The National Council will propose for assistants for teachers in view of increased workload with the government deciding to do away with exams for classes PP to III during the recently concluded annual education conference in Phuentsholing.

During the deliberation on the 12th Plan, Chairperson of the National Council, Tashi Dorji, yesterday decided that the proposal would be included in the House’s recommendations on the Plan. The recommendation was proposed by Mongar’s representative, Sonam Pelzom.

With the government doing away with Saturday classes, MP Sonam Pelzom, who is a former teacher, said that teachers’ workload would be increased significantly because of the need for an increased workload related to ongoing assessment. “A proper policy needs to be formulated for implementation of the reforms in the education sector,” she said.

Meanwhile, Lhuentse’s member of National Council Tempa Wangdi said that most of the youth related incidents occur during Saturdays and that alternative programmes should be designed for youth to remain engaged.

“We shouldn’t rush when it comes to implementing such policies. These decisions were made in the recently concluded annual education conference in Phuentsholing,” he said.

Deputy Chairperson and member from Samdrupjongkhar, Jigme Wangchuk, also expressed his concerns about lack of alternative programmes to engage students on Saturdays. “More youth related problems may arise if schools remain closed on Saturday,” he said.

Member from Samtse, Tirthaman Rai, said that infrastructure in schools should be improved for better working environment for teachers. Given the work teachers do, Samtse’s representative, who is also a former teacher, said that teachers needed better perks.

The 12th Plan document states that while accessibility to education has improved significantly, various studies have pointed out the need to urgently address issues around the quality of education. An education quality survey of primary schools in Bhutan (Classes II and IV) conducted by the World Bank in 2007 concluded that the overall rate of learning was low.

During the Plan period, the education ministry aims to provide 80 hours of professional development to each teacher to enhance their knowledge and skills through in-service trainings and workshops at national, dzongkhag and school levels, and will also provide prestigious scholarships and fellowships outside the country. The programme is aimed at ensuring efficient deployment of teachers by subject. The programme will be implemented by the ministry.

The government will strive to provide postgraduate programmes especially at masters and doctoral level for teachers, according to the Plan. Under this programme, RUB also aims to equip campuses with state of the art facilities for quality learning and comprehensive student support services. The programme will be implemented by RUB.

MB Subba