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An initiative of the National Assembly to add variety to its regular agenda and table other national issues came under intense scrutiny as members debated if the House should pass a resolution on the recommendations.

Chairperson of the Social and Cultural Committee and Maenbi-Tsenkher MP, Choki Gyeltshen, presented its report on the SDG 4 – Quality Education and National Key Result Area (NKRA) 7 of the 12th Five Year Plan. The committee proposed eight recommendations.

Panbang MP, Dorji Wangdi questioned the Speaker why the issue was being discussed at the House and said that there should be a resolution following every discussion.

He said that if there were no resolutions to be passed then what was the purpose of the discussion.

Speaker Wangchuk Namgyel said it was important to dedicate time and hold open discussions on such national issues like national key result areas and the sustainable development goals (SDGs). “It’d be good for everyone to know about these issues,” he said.

He said that this was only the beginning and resolutions on such issues could be drawn in the future as the process gains momentum and the committees gain experience.

However, when the Speaker called a vote on whether the House should pass the recommendations as resolution of the House, most members did not agree.

Bjee-Kartshog-Eusu MP and a member of the committee, Ugen Tenzin said the House would have erred if it decided to pass the recommendations of the committee as resolutions.

He said that the committee had met with the ministry officials only once to discuss on the issues, and could not carry out enough consultations with the stakeholders.

The Speaker admitted some error on the part of the NA secretariat having asked the committee for general and not exhaustive recommendations. Despite that members said that recommendations tabled were relevant and significant.

“However, there was no objection raised when the House deliberated on the SDGs and NKRA in the health sector earlier,” the Speaker said, adding the feedback was crucial to improve the system.

Members spent most of the time deliberating on the issue that they could not go further than the second recommendation.

In the end, the Speaker asked for a vote on if all the recommendations should be sent as proposed by the committee to the education ministry.

 

Recommendations

The House asked the ministry to review and determine the pre-primary age limit.

The Speaker highlighted the recent issue of underage school admission and children being denied admission for not meeting the set admission age by few months.

“What we have seen is that instead of the school or the teachers, the parents and children are bearing the brunt of it,” the Speaker Wangchuk Namgyel said.

The chairperson of the committee said that with the qualifying age set at five and a half years, in the confusion, children between five and six years were being left out neither admitted in pre-primary nor in the ECCDs.

“So as per the international norm, it would suffice to set the age to six years,” he said.

The House recommended the ministry maintain class size as per education policy guidelines, 24 in lower classes and 30 in higher schools.

The National Key Results Area of the TVET course is included under the ministry of education, whereas the programme is kept with the labour ministry. “Therefore, the NKRA shall be aligned with the programme,” he said.

The House recommended to review and implement the system of shifting from examination based to holistic assessment in few schools as a pilot project, which is key result of education.

“The new early child care and development centre shall be established even for 10 children aged between 3-5 years and the programme has to be promoted nationwide as a priority.”

The committee also observed that the education Bill should be in place because education is the key sector to the country. “Therefore, it shall be submitted to the Parliament within the 12th Plan,” the recommendation stated.

During the recruitment of new teachers, both experienced and inexperienced teachers are recruited. The House recommended that the new recruitment policy of teachers be reviewed and determined.

The policy of central schools needs to be reviewed and determined for sustainability and the schools with classes PP to XII be reviewed.

Khamaed-Lunana MP, Yeshey Dem and a member of the committee said, “The ministry needs to review the distribution of central schools, admission of students, and provision of facilities.”

She said that while government provided even basic items in central schools, there are schools in south without proper fans, schools in the high altitude areas had no heating facilities and services to ferry students from far off places to school.

Tshering Palden 

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