At the Annual Performance Agreement (APA) mid-year review February 7, education secretary Karma Yeshey requested Prime Minister to drop the pretest-3 for PISA-D as a success indicator.

Karma Yeshey explained that the ministry received the first orientation on PISA-D test administration only during the National Project Manager’s Meeting in New Jersey, USA due to late registration.

“Later, we learnt that Bhutan should abide by their standard sampling protocols for all students of 15 years from grade VII-XII,” he said. “This has completely changed the PISA-D sample of Bhutan, which left us with barely more than a month to complete the pretest 3.”

He said that the education ministry and BCSEA decided to drop the activity due to time constraint and massive preparation required of for changes in sample.

Karma Yeshey informed that instead of pretest 3, new PISA-D sample schools were introduced to PISA-D Assessment Framework and instruments where the materials were administered in new schools.

PISA-D domain experts provided PISA-D orientation programme to all PISA-D school coordinators across the country from Royal Education Council, education ministry, and BCSEA.

Although the timeline to develop teachers’ standard was December 2017, Karma Yeshey said that the ministry was unable to meet the deadline and requested prime minister to extend the target until 30 June 2018.

He also asked if the success indicator (success indicator) could be changed to timeline by which draft teachers’ standard is submitted to the Teacher Education Development Board.

“The ministry has been working on teachers standards and could develop the working document with in-house capacity with further technical support from the UNESCO/UNICEF,” Karma Yeshey said. “The ministry is working on English Standards for Teachers supported by the Royal Tutorial Project, Thimphu and the English standard test materials will be developed in February to March 2018 before the training assessor.”

The proposed masters degree, which will replace the existing PG Diploma in Education at the two Colleges of Education in Samtse and Paro is also being worked on to raise the entry qualification of teachers.

“Due to such initiatives, the ministry is not able to meet the deadline as agreed,” Karma Yeshey said.

He also requested the prime minister to change the target of a two-week time required to recognise the qualification from the day of application. The ministry requested to extend the timeline to two months for ex-country.

“The Department of Adult and Higher Education reported that since this is a fairly new area, they initially thought that they will be able to provide qualification recognition in two weeks and set an ambitious target,” the secretary said, adding some of the universities, especially those in India, take a long time to respond despite concerted efforts.

Of the 45 SI for the ministry, 10 have already been achieved, 32 are on track, and three indicators are at risk.

The ministry has achieved 100 percent target of primary completion (Class VI) and almost 100 percent in secondary completion rate (Class X).

Some of the success indicators were initiation of National Drama festival, supply of fortified rice to government stipend schools, and establishment of additional schools with special education needs programme.

The adjusted primary net enrollment ratio (6-12 years old) stands at 98.8 percent, which indicates that the ministry has achieved universal primary education, access to education through central school, and expansions of primary and secondary schools.

“This means only 1.2 percent of our children are out of school. The basic net enrollment ratio from 6-16 years old stands at 95.7 percent, which also indicates success in terms of basic education,” Karma Yeshey said.

The ministry has selected and awarded loan to 120 students from economically disadvantaged background.

Total revised current and capital budget of Nu 2.1 Billion was allocated to the ministry, of which, Nu 981 million has been released. Of the released budget, Nu 648M has been spent.

Prime minister said instead of doing away with the PISA-D as success indicators, discussions should be held with the Government Performance Management Division (GPMD) and look into the indicator again. He also asked the ministry to discuss with GPMD and National Technical Committee for the other two SI indicators at risk.

“PISA-D is something that most countries take very seriously because it is a standardised test based on competency and not on the work learning,” prime minister said.

He added that PISA-D exam has already been appeared and the result would be out this year. “Education Minister has already reminded and asked me to be prepared because there is a chance that the result might show our standard to be not very high.”

Yangchen C Rinzin