Education: The education ministry will deliberate whether the class III and VI board exams are still required during its national education conference next week.

The class III and VI board exams are among the many issues that will be deliberated.

Around 170 officials including education officers, principals, teachers and representatives from the ministry, the Bhutan Council for School Examination and Assessment (BCSEA) and the Royal Education Council (REC) will converge to discuss various issues of the education system.

According to the education ministry’s Facebook page, Sherig Bhutan, BCSEA has proposed to do away with the class III board exam and decentralise class VI exams to the dzongkhags.

However, it is added that BCSEA will continue setting the exam papers for class VI but the dzongkhags will be responsible for evaluation.

The conference will also deliberate whether to adopt the international student assessment- PISA-D. “The results may be good or it may not be good but the benefit and the value addition of participation is, it will give us a clear picture of the education status of the country in comparison to international standards,” school education department’s chief programme officer Phuntsho Wangdi said.

Another issue the conference will deliberate will be on whether Dzongkha should be reinstated as a main and compulsory subject as recommended by the Dzongkha teachers during the last national curriculum review. “There will be discussions whether we should have Dzongkha teachers teach Dzongkha at the primary level particularly classes III and below,” Phuntsho Wangdi said.

Currently, general teachers teach Dzongkha. Having one teacher teach only one subject will also be discussed.

The conference will also deliberate human resource issues particularly, the career track and progression of teachers, vice principals and principals. Phuntsho Wangdi said that it will be deliberated if such employees can be promoted until the specialist level.

The conference will discuss the opening of premier and special schools. For instance, premier school for maths and science aimed at providing alternative education pathways to outstanding students.

Phuntsho Wangdi said that the premier schools will not be established immediately but that preparations will begin so that such schools can be operationalised by 2018.

The education ministry will also present findings of its independent review on operation of central and autonomous schools. This review is conducted as per the delivery and performance agreement signed between the ministry, dzongkhags and schools.

Key intervention strategies will be discussed on how these schools will be improved in the future in terms of management, administration, financial use, resources, and human resources allocation. “Strategies to boost the morale of both students and teachers will also be discussed,” Phuntsho Wangdi said.

A proposed change in the winter and summer vacation will also be discussed. The ministry has proposed to shorten the winter break by two weeks so that schools resume by February 1 for teachers and February 4 for students.

If the proposal is accepted, the summer break will be extended by two weeks and will start from June 1 and end by July 31.

To further the resolutions of the national curriculum review, REC will present the strategic plan to implement the resolutions of the national curriculum review, which the conference will endorse.

“Once endorsed, respective agencies will roll out and implement these strategic plans,” Phuntsho Wangdi said.

With teacher workload being a perennial issue, the conference will explore ways to withdraw teachers from non-teaching activities.

Besides these issues, a presentation on the teacher recruitment exercise and professional development is also on the agenda, along with transformative pedagogy and non-formal education.

Tempa Wangdi