Education has lately been in the limelight, but for all the wrong reasons.

The Covid-19 pandemic caused a severe disruption in all the sectors, but heavily on education. Schools had to be closed for a year almost. Online learning proved to be a major problem as we tried to keep the schools remotely open.

And now we are faced with a new impediment, so to speak.  We have the New Normal Curriculum (NNC) 2021. That’s all right. Time has come for Bhutan to strategise its school education system. We do not blame the old systems because they did what was good for the country in their time. But the new reality is demanding a better and more responsive education system.

For a small nation and economy, this is by far more important than most of our development plans.

The schools have at long last reopened. The New Normal Curriculum has been rolled out. But all is not well the way we are implementing the change. The teachers, who are at the centre of education, are today confused as to what their new role is with the new curriculum in place.

This is a serious problem. If we fail to address this problem early on, the consequences could be far-reaching.

The realities: Moving away from textbook-less system will present a formidable problem. Harnessing the advantages of IT is challenging because internet connectivity and coverage needs to improve—NNC is all about going digital. The fact is that we have IT teachers who do not have even a laptop to teach the basics of computer.

Class size is going to be a major problem because NNC will require teachers to give more attention to students. Teachers argue that curriculum developers ought to have consulted them first. That, reportedly did not happen. And, so, most of our teachers are at a loss. When teachers aren’t sure of how and what they must deliver, there is a problem.

We haven’t lost it all, thankfully—we can sacrifice a week or two to familiarise the teachers with the NNC. In many schools the classes haven’t begun formally. But failure to act sooner will land us in deeper and darker problems.

Train the teachers immediately. Efforts must be made to take internet connectivity to the last village. Infrastructure and resource allocation must happen, the quicker we can do this, the better. If the education ministry can’t do it alone, collaborate with the telcos. But the process cannot wait.