Education: Dzongkha could become one of the main subjects should the upcoming national education conference endorse it as recommended by Dzongkha teachers during the national curriculum review.

The education ministry will discuss whether the environmental studies (EVS) subject should be merged into other subjects. As per the proposal posted on the education ministry’s Facebook page, Sherig Bhutan, EVS content will be infused with other language subjects so that students can focus on language and numeracy. The move is also intended to reduce the subject burden on students.

Without EVS as a separate subject, students of classes preprimary (PP) to III will have only three subjects. More periods will then be allocated to the learning of Dzongkha to enable students to build a stronger foundation in the national language. This is also done to prepare students to take on additional subjects at later stages with better understanding and greater proficiency in language and numeracy.

The conference will deliberate strategies to promote Dzongkha as a national language. One such solution as per the Department of School Education’s chief programme officer Phuntsho Wangdi said is by having Dzongkha teachers to teach Dzongkha from PP to class III.

“The other strategy is to make Dzongkha the main subject wherein if students fail in Dzongkha, they will be failed,” Phuntsho Wangdi said.

But it is unsure what recommendations will be made by the participants, which will be comprised of education officers, principals, teachers and educationists. “Some might even suggest to increase the pass mark for Dzongkha to 55 or 60 so that the children are serious in Dzongkha,” he said.

The Royal Education Council primary Dzongkha curriculum developer, Dorji, during the review last year said making general teachers teach Dzongkha for classes PP to III is one of the reasons contributing to the national language’s decline.

“The schools have submitted that Dzongkha for PP to class III be taught by professional Dzongkha teachers and even if general teachers were to continue teaching Dzongkha, they should be trained in the language first,” Dorji said. Feedbacks from the schools also suggested reinstating some of the old Dzongkha textbooks like namthars (biographies), ngagdren (dictionary) and sumtag (grammar).

Meanwhile, the National Council members expressed concerns over the children’s waning interest in Dzongkha during its 18 th session.  While much of the deliberations dwelled on re-introducing textbooks for subjects like history, civics and environmental studies in Dzongkha, it also extensively discoursed strengthening the Dzongkha curricula.

The House also went onto recommend the reintroduction of old Dzongkha textbooks such as Legshey Langdhor, Chudhang Shingitenchey, Sheytring and namthar of Khandro Drowa Zangmo in the curriculum. Currently, the students study a textbook condensed from all these old textbooks.

Members pointed out that the existing practice of leaving Dzongkha as an optional subject in schools is one of the flaws contributing to dwindling interest among the children in the subject.

Members also reiterated the need to increase Dzongkha subjects in the colleges. The members pointed out that business and commerce students study Dzongkha only in one semester of their three-year course, that too, for just two months. Therefore, the House submitted that Dzongkha should be made the main subject.

Meanwhile, National Council members including the chairperson Dasho (Dr) Sonam Kinga cautioned of ramifications of reversing Dzongkha. He said reversing Dzongkha as the main subject could lead to failing many children because of not passing in one main subject even after passing in all other subjects.

Tempa Wangdi