… MoE to spend Nu 900M on building computer laboratories and on computers

Yangchen C Rinzin 

The education ministry (MoE) in an effort to digitalise schools, as a part of the Education Flagship Programme, has started to install computers in all schools, including extended classrooms.

The flagship programme attempts to ensure that the students are engaged with ICT Technology (ICT) from pre-primary and make students IT literate. Ministry officials said that teachers are also being trained.

Most of the schools across the country have a host of issues such as shortage of ICT teachers, computers, internet services, lack of budget for internet, and replacement of computers.

This is why the education ministry, as a first step to achieve digitalisation of schools, has started with the construction of computer laboratories in schools that lack both laboratory and computers.

MoE has identified around 120 laboratories that need to be either remodelled or construct new labs. The ministry has constructed around 33 labs so far.

MoE’s ICT deputy chief programme officer, Yeshey Lhendup, said that investing in ICT infrastructure is expensive. “But we’re trying to construct labs and supply computers as much as possible,” he said. “This will ensure all primary schools have dedicated labs and adequate computers.”

Yeshey Lhendup said that ICT literacy curriculum from Class IV-X was also reviewed and IT has been made as a compulsory subject from Classes PP-XII with a major focus on coding.

The ministry is also revamping the existing local area network through ICT flagship project.

All secondary schools and 50 primary schools have also started implementing revised ICT curriculum (coding).

“The remaining schools will start implementing it as soon as they get computer labs. The work has already been awarded for construction and supply of computers and laptops,” Yeshey Lhendup said.

Schools with computer labs have already started teaching revised ICT curriculum beginning this academic session.

The ministry has also supplied 4,696 computers to all primary schools and extended classrooms that do not have ICT infrastructures.

A total of 3,420 computers have been distributed to secondary schools of 15 dzongkhags or thromdes and 2,900 computers will be distributed to secondary schools of remaining dzongkhags or thromdes by the end of August.  

Yeshey Lhendup said that about 1,000 teachers have been trained on the coding aspect of the revised ICT curriculum. “While the training on Python was conducted for secondary teachers, Scratch and CodeMonkey were trained for all teachers including private schools.”

He added that once the supply of computers and laboratories are completed, the ministry is hopeful that rest of the schools who do not have the opportunity to attend ICT subject, will have an opportunity to learn at the beginning of the second term of this academic session.

The government was allotted Nu 1 Billion for the flagship programme. The ministry would spend close to Nu 900 million by December this year. The expenditure includes for completion of ICT lab, supply of computers and laptops, and peripherals and capacity development of teachers.

Meanwhile, the education ministry is also working with the information and communication ministry to strengthen internet connectivity for all schools. The work is looked after by the department of information technology and telecom.

“The Internet is important because without this, even if we manage to supply all computers and establish labs, ICT would be difficult,” Yeshey Lhendup said. “Simultaneously, the education ministry will have to also keep building on teachers’ capacity to teach coding.”

Edited by Tshering Palden