Education is at the heart of the nation’s development. Including all Bhutanese in the system has been our endeavour from the first day. Looking back, our investments have been more than worthwhile.

Although, the nation is grappling with issues like rising youth unemployment, which indicates the failure of our education system in parts, we have done exceedingly well in some other parts. Where accolades are due, we must give.

Non-formal education (NFE) has been a huge success in the country. We have been recognised with international awards. If we look at the goodness of the programme today, close to 200 beneficiaries of the NFE programme are already in leadership positions in the grassroots governance system.

We are bringing the issue of NFE because NFE has been facing some complications. At least 1,142 learners dropped out in 2014, of which 666 were basic learners. Currently there are a total of 7,390 NFE learners. But there has been significant dropout rate in the programme.

Dropout rate, however, should be looked at from the right perspective. Enrolment is dropping at the NFE centres because we have reached almost all the target population. But there are those that drop out of conventional school system and will in the future avail of the services of NFE.

That’s is why the grievances of the NFE instructors that they brought to the limelight last month should be considered in the right context.  NFE teachers are among the employment groups that are the lowest paid. They do not get most of the perks that other teachers enjoy. This has led to job dissatisfaction and many are looking to leave the system.

At one point of time we were told that grievances of the NFE teachers was taken to the Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC) so that they could be included as part of the civil servants and to place them at grade S5A. However, we now hear that RCSC has not even recieved any information from the Ministry of Education.

We have a national dream, which is enhancing adult literacy rate to near 100 percent by 2020, providing learning opportunity to illiterate, neo-literate and dropouts, providing lifelong learning opportunity through continuing education programme. NFE is a critically important part of it.