Council: After finding a number of flaws in the existing recruitment procedure of teachers, the National Council (NC) is deliberating whether teaching courses should be offered to university graduates instead of class XII graduates.

The deliberation transpired while discussing the special committee’s recommendation to strengthen the existing recruitment procedure and criteria while selecting trainees for the Paro and Samtse education colleges.

Paro NC member Kaka Tshering said going by the abundance of university graduates in the country, the profession should be offered to university graduates. “The qualification should be raised since children are only aged 14-15 when they complete class XII and they are too young to know whether they want to be a teacher,” he said.

NC deputy chairperson Tshering Dorji also said that the existing practice of recruiting from class XII should be replaced with university graduates. “Proportionate and simultaneous change in the courses offered in the teacher training colleges should be made,” he said.

Tshering Dorji said that an in-person interview should be added to the existing recruitment process.

Trongsa NC member Tharchen said though a trainee’s attitude and aptitude should be a selection criteria, it isn’t in the existing recruitment process. “There is also a need to include continuous assessment of trainees till class XII during the selection to teacher training institutes,” he said.

The committee also recommended reviewing the selection process of teachers by the civil service through written examinations. “Under the prevailing civil service examination,  it doesn’t consider the trainees’ behaviour and attitude while in the institute and their dedication towards teaching,” Tharchin said.

The House propsosed that royal univeristy of Bhutan and education colleges conduct the teacher recruitment instead of civil service examination.

The committee also recommend revisiting the current teacher workload to ensure adequate time for lesson planning and assessment by deploying instructors for sports, music and arts. NC chairperson Dasho (Dr) Sonam Kinga said that the committee should look into the existing discrepancy of number of instructors between the primary and high schools.

“While there are many sports, music and arts instructors in the high schools, there isn’t an adequate number of these instructors for primary schools though it is at this level where more care and facilities are needed,” he said.

But Samdrupjongkhar NC member Jigme Wangchuk asked to review whether the detailed lesson plan is even needed.

Chukha NC member Pema Tenzin said that there is need to reduce the wide gap of the student-teacher ratio. While the education policy states that a teacher should teach a class of 24 students, as per the committee’s report, teachers are teaching classes of between 35-50 students today.

Pema Tenzin also questioned if the children are not bogged down with the bulky curriculum. “Going by the number of hours children struggle from 8am to 11pm, it makes us question whether the strategies and objective of education itself isn’t flawed,” he said, reiterating the need to implement the existing policy of making teachers teach for only 22 hours a week. The committee reported teachers work for around 57 hours a week.

After teacher incentives did not materialise earlier, the committee submitted to offer attractive remuneration and incentives and raise the existing entry-level grade to attract more competent and qualified applicants and to retain the experienced.

Mongar NC member Sonam Wangchuk said that even now there is not a single person who would have joined teaching because of their love for the profession. “Teaching still remains the least preferred profession, which is only opted for because the students failed to qualify for other professional courses and university studies,” he said.

The chairperson said that the committee should also deliberate on making differences in the benefits of those serving in the rural and urban areas.

But Kaka Tshering asked whether there should be a separate rules and regulations to guide over the 8,000 teachers in the country. “Because there are over 8,000 teachers, it becomes difficult to get trainings since most of the time other civil servants who are much fewer in number gets the opportunities,” he said.

To iron out deployment issues, the committee recommended to revisit the current teacher deployment system aligned to subject specialisaton and needs of the schools. As per the committee’s report some teachers were posted from one rural area to another. For instance, a teacher from Sakteng was transferred to Martshala and to Lhamoizingkha.

Jigme Wangchuk reiterated the need for the ministry and dzongkhag to work in coordination since the latter posts new teachers to primary schools in remoter areas even though the teacher was meant for high schools.

Punakha NC member Rinzin Dorji said that it is important to reduce shortage of teachers. “There are cases where a school has no math teacher but cannot be provided one because there are too many English teachers in that school,” he said.

Though education policy requires every teacher to get 80 hours of training, a teacher was found to have received only 37 hours of training, that too inclusive of trainings on disaster management, environment and health. The report also states that teachers from remoter areas like Dagana got the least hours of training with just over six hours.

The committee therefore submitted to review the existing teacher professional development programmes and strategies with proper monitoring and impact assessment. The committee also proposed that a full-time counsellor be provided since there is increasing need in the schools.

Pema Tenzin said counsellors are a must since there are many children in schools from troubled families and other youth related issues. “It is doubtful if the rising youth problem isn’t because of robotic education since the overburdened teachers are unable to give education with humility,” he said.

He also said that there were reports of counsellors resigning after facing family problems in the process of helping students withtheir problems. The committee wil also deliberate on the possibility of deploying one male and a female counsellor each to every school since there were reports of gender hampering counselling.

All the recommendations however will be further deliberated in the committee meeting.

Tempa Wangdi