KP Sharma

The education ministry has merged about 18 extended classrooms (ECR), four primary schools, and upgraded nine schools in Chukha, Dagana, Wangdue, and Samtse.

Merger and upgradation of the schools were proposed by the dzongkhags, which according to a ministry official, would result in effective management of resources and delivery of quality education.

He said that although the teacher-student ratio of 1:18 in Bhutanese schools is the best in the region, teacher shortage was a major issue facing the country.

According to the official, schools with fewer students have limited resources and facilities, which hamper learning, adding that students in bigger schools get better exposure and perform better as students have access to better educational facilities and environment.

“Bigger schools also have qualified teachers,” the official said.

According to the Annual Education Statistics 2022 the numbers of schools and educational institutes have decreased over the last three years.

Tali Primary School in Zhemgang was closed because the school had only eight students. Similarly, Kezari Primary School in Chukha, which has 50 students and six teachers, has been merged with Sinchula Primary School.

According to the ministry, ECRs should have minimum of 20 students and primary schools with 50 students respectively.

While merging the schools, the ministry said that schools that have bigger ability to foster development of the society in future were given the exception.

The Cabinet directed the education ministry to explore the possibility of merging the schools in 2019.

The ministry was asked to restructure the existing schools to either primary school having classes PP to six or high school with class seven to 10.

Accordingly, the officials from erstwhile Gross National Happiness Commission (GNHC), Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC), and education ministry started working on the proposed change from 2021.