To address the housing shortage faced by the teachers, especially in remote dzongkhags, the education ministry plans to provide housing to about 80 percent of the teachers within the school premises in the 12th Plan.

The ministry has already instructed dzongkhag administrations to assess the requirement for the staff quarters and propose it in the 12th Plan as priority. The construction of quarters would focus on large boarding and central schools.

In an earlier interview with the Kuensel, education minister Norbu Wangchuk said this would mean the 12th Plan would see the construction and provision of teachers’ quarters in the boarding schools. “Apart from addressing the housing shortage, this would also enable teachers to engage meaningfully in the school programmes and other student development activities.”

An official from the planning division said that the plan is also in line with the objective of 12th Plan’s greater decentralisation to dzongkhags and thromdes, which means they would be carrying out any infrastructure construction. “This time, the ministry would focus more on the policy direction and setting standards. The focus would be more on large boarding schools, as students studying as day scholars go home after school.”

The official said that although the plan is to have 80 percent of teachers reside within the school premises, dzongkhag administrations, to start with, have been asked to propose for quarters based on the number of boarding students in the schools.

“This is because a block with four units would costs about Nu 7 million. This would incur huge cost to construct houses for 80 percent of the teachers because if the school has 70 teachers, 40 teachers should get quarters,” the official said.

In terms of the proportion to student number, it would mean if 50 percent of the students are boarders, only 50 percent of the teachers should reside within the premises.

He said that construction would slowly increase to achieve the target to provide 80 percent of housing by the end of 12th plan.

However, the staff quarters’ construction would not be in the thromde where private houses are available.

The recommendation is to propose quarters as per the existing standard design, which is a two-storey structure with four units. The design could vary based on the location.  

Currently, apart from principals, vice principals, matrons, wardens and few teachers, quarters are not available to all teachers.

“From the ministry’s point, the quarters are important to give teachers a decent housing that would help students in schools. The quarters would be distributed based on seniority, couples, or school committee’s decision, but they should make sure that quarters are allocated to warden and matron.”

There are 8,644 teachers in government and 771 in private schools according to the education statistics 2017. There are about 150 boarding schools, including central schools.

Yangchen C Rinzin