The national council questioned the education minister’s preparedness and capacity to include Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) as a fourth stream for classes XI and XII.

The house recommended the ministry to strengthen the existing TVET systems implemented under the labour ministry instead of starting a whole new set up, which could be of duplication.

Education ministry during 19th national education conference decided to include TVET as the optional stream starting from 2020 academic session instead of doing away with the class X cut off point, as pledged.

Eminent national council member Tashi Wangmo said that it would be better to enhance the existing TVET programmes as the ministry is lagging behind in infrastructure development and mobilization of human resources to implement the plan.

The initiative was aimed to enable students to acquire skills that are required in market, provide skills-based studies, curb skills and job mismatch, and reduce unemployment problems, which is similar to the objectives of existing TVET programmes, according to the NC member.

Bumthang council representative, Nima said that it was important to know whether a preliminary assessment or researches would be conducted before such big decision was taken at the national education conference.

The NC member said that implementing programmes would challenge schools and education system facing difficulty in successfully implementing the existing curriculums and syllabus.

“There is a need to conduct a proper assessment before implementing such plans. I feel that we are hurrying to implement the plan, which would waste resources and time,” he said.

Council representative of Gasa, Dorji Khandu said that it was worrying to learn about the education ministry’s plan to implement TVET programme while the same programme under labour ministry faced many challenges.

“I am not sure how competent the students studying 20 percent of theory-based studies be, compared to TVET graduates studying 80 percent of practical lessons,” he said.

A research report by a special committee of National Council found that TVET programmes were faced with the challenges in access, relevancy, and quality of skills.

Lack of TVET policy stewardship, inadequate attention on developing professional TVET services, partial implementation of Bhutan Vocational Qualifications Framework (BVQF), weak TVET-industry linkages, and lack of adequate financial and human resources were identified as major factors impeding the development of TVET according to the report.

Assessment of the TVET sector also showed a lack of competitiveness on the part of TVET graduates. Of the TVET programs offered in the country, 81 percent are at the certificate level.

TVET graduates continue to face difficulty in upgrading their educational qualification and career progression.

Education minister, Jai Bir Rai said that the initiative was aimed to help students get employed and create employment through education. “Until date, there were only three options; Science, commerce and Arts that helped students get employed.”

The implementation of TVET streams in schools is aimed to change the perception of the programme being related to a blue color job, which failed to gain the interest of students. And change the insights of the programme considered as a choice of the children from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

It is also aimed to provide TVET graduates an opportunity to upgrade their educational qualification and career progression like other streams, according to the minister.

The minister said that the need to improve and enhance TVET system was included both in education and labour ministry’s blueprint.

While more than Nu 240 million budgets are allocated for the education ministry in the current plan, the ministry plans to mobilize additional USD 12 million from Asian Development plan to implement the plans.

However, the Lyonpo said that the ministry was concerned about the development of infrastructure, managing required facilities and plans to enroll experienced trainers to implement TVET streams.