One of these include whether the current assessment system is still relevant

Education: School textbooks for some subjects like history might be done away with if the education ministry finds that students can learn better from online references and Youtube it was pointed out at the national school curriculum conference, which ended on October 31.

“Now we’re exploring if some of the subjects like World History should not have textbooks,” education minister Norbu Wangchuk said, adding that students should be equipped with up to date materials.

The conference has considered doing away with textbooks for history given the availability of online resources. The minister said that this is being done in the larger interest of the students to enable them to look into a variety of interpretations of world events rather than just narrowing their understanding to one person’s view of World History written over 30-40 years ago.

“We will tell them to pick up any resources and references such as documents, documentaries from Youtube,” Lyonpo said.

Resolutions to bring about major changes in policy, standards, implementation and assessment in the school curriculum were decided at the conference.

Lyonpo Norbu Wangchuk who attended the closing day of the conference said that major changes will be made to the curriculum.

As per the resolutions of the main conference, resolving the existing problems in the school curriculum will begin at the policy level. The education policy document such as the national education policy,  national education and curriculum frameworks, ICT and curriculum digitisation will be consolidated and standardised to strengthen the systematic approach towards education.

For instance, the conference resolved that each subject should have a curriculum framework to guide the textbook since only a handful of subjects have curriculum frameworks.

“We have to have a curriculum framework for all the subjects,” Lyonpo said.

Standard operating procedures will also be developed with different stakeholders to develop and implement the curriculum.

To provide greater subject choices to the student, the curriculum will be diversified and made inclusive while a different curriculum will be introduced for specialised schools. The differentiated subjects will be categorised into science, humanities and performing arts.

This will be achieved by diversifying the curriculum for special schools for science, humanities and performing arts. “While they would study all the subjects, they will have emphasis on their own specialised subjects like science for science and humanities for humanities and likewise,” he said.

As part of the same programme, vocational subjects will be up-scaled and deepened. To enhance teaching and learning outcomes, one teacher for one subject will be given more importance.

“Once they are focused on one subject they can specialise and think through on making their lessons powerful for the student,” Lyonpo said. These schools will have additional curriculum as per their specialisation.

Research-based teaching and learning will also be promoted in schools while greater focus on language and numbers will be given in primary education. The ministry will also see to it that primary school teachers get adequate professional development and capacity-building opportunities.

Since value education and life skills education are indispensable in the smartphone world, value education will be strengthened and streamlined through integration and mass coverage.

Meanwhile, validation and certification of different curriculums will be institutionalised with relevant stakeholders. Affiliation to international systems will also be sought.

As per the resolutions on curriculum standards, focus must be on bridging the gap between education taught in the schools and requirement in the job market particularly for higher classes. The curriculum will also be reviewed for relevancy.

While the curriculum should be designed to facilitate international recognition and accreditation, it also mandates its relevance to the Bhutanese context wherever applicable. Access to ICT for all subjects will be made available in order to improve teaching and learning materials.

The resolution also recommends continuous teacher competency training programmes to bridge the gap between the intention of the curriculum and its implementation since this was one of the major issues raised in the curriculum reviews from the dzongkhags. “Curriculums of the Colleges of Education, Royal University of Bhutan must be aligned to facilitate the school curriculum,” the resolution document states.

Comprehensive guideline for implementation of the curriculum must be developed and adequate resources for schools should also be made available to facilitate effective curriculum implementation.

The existing assessment system, which has come under fire from teachers, will also be assessed to see if it’s relevant. A task force will be formed to assess the existing assessment system.

“We either have to have no assessments or have assessments where only extremely necessary,” Lyonpo said.

Uniform guidelines for all levels focusing on formative assessment from summative will be formed. Teachers will also have to be provided with trainings on formative assessment according to the conference resolution.

A strategic plan for the resolutions of the national school curriculum review will be developed, which will be categorised into immediate, mid- and long-term goals. “Respective agencies will then start working as per the strategic plan,” Department of School Education chief programme officer Phuntsho Wangdi said.

Tempa Wangdi