KP Sharma 

Members of the National Assembly yesterday voiced their dissatisfaction with the lack of a strong education policy in the country, resulting in multiple challenges and obstacles within the education sector.

Despite having a draft policy called the National Education Policy 2019, nothing has been done so far to implement it.

Raising concerns, Bardo-Trong MP Gyambo Tshering pointed out the issue of Arts stream students being deprived of the opportunity to pursue tertiary education due to abrupt changes in policies.

Gyambo Tshering said that more than 5,000 Arts students have been affected by the recent changes made in the education sector.

He urged the ministry to develop a comprehensive policy to address such issues in the future.

He said that despite the ministry’s efforts to offer scholarships to 395 students, students who did not study mathematics were ineligible for the courses.

“Samtse College of Education is offering 140 slots for B.Ed secondary in Information Technology, but it requires Mathematics background to be eligible,” said Gyambo Tshering.

He said that such an unclear policy has destroyed the aspirations and dreams of the students. He asked for clarification from the minister about the criteria used to select students for the courses.

Dewathang-Gomdar MP Ugyen Dorji said that the policy regarding online learning was not clear.

He said that although online learning has been adopted during the pandemic, some schools and teachers still practice it while others do not. “When homework is assigned to the students, they seek parents’ help, which has burdened the parents.”

He said that it has led to a digital divide among the students based on their backgrounds.

According to the MP, rural students are disadvantaged as they do not have adequate facilities to access the service.

Menbi-Tshenkhar MP Choki Gyeltshen said that the government should come up with a clear policy to address the teacher shortage.

He highlighted the lack of a policy that has demotivated teachers and made it difficult to retain them. “The ministry says the dzongkhags are empowered to recruit contract teachers, but education officers in dzongkhags say that they see low turnouts due to unfriendly policies.”

Choki Gyeltshen said that the ministry should develop a clear policy to have a vibrant system.

Education and Skills Development Minister Jai Bir Rai acknowledged the challenges created by the changes in policy.

He informed the House that the scholarships offered so far were not the end. “We are still working on it to ensure that the deserving ones get to pursue their tertiary education.”

Lyonpo said that the ministry was aware of the inconveniences associated with online classes.

According to the minister, the pilot project called the Learning Management System (LMS) is expected to resolve all these issues once the system is implemented.

Lyonpo said that it was not mandatory for teachers to conduct online classes. “The ministry has equipped all schools with ICT facilities and the work for laying fiber cables has been completed.”