The first batch of Diploma in Physical Education and Sports Coaching (DPESC) graduates from Paro College of Education had to take up the post of School Sports Instructors (SSIs) as the graduates were left without any employment opportunities after completing the course in July.

According to the course objectives, the graduates were supposed to work as Physical Education (PE) teachers and coaches, claimed to be proficient in teaching and coaching through teaching practice and sports specialisations.

Fourteen out of 19 DPESC graduates were given opportunity to work as School Sports Instructors (SSIs) by the Department of Youth and Sports (DYS) under its Sports and Physical Activity programmes.

DYS started the initiative of recruiting XII passed out students for the post of SSIs since 2008 to meet their objective of providing every secondary school in the country with one SSI each by 2018.

Sherab Gyeltshen, a DPESC graduate, said that it is demoralising when they not given a right opportunity.

“We were told that we will not be allowed to conduct HPE classes in schools. We will not be able to implement what we have learned,” he said.

Sherab Gyeltshen was placed in Yoezerling Primary School for a 45-day teaching practice. He said that the physical education in the school was all about giving kids a ball and letting them play on their own. “Only kids interested in games were kept involved. Our courses mandate us to include all children without differentiation, encourage them for the physical movements, including a differently-abled child.”

The course was the initiative of Paro College of Education. Programme Leader Puspalal Sharma said that the course was based on teaching games for understanding, a model practiced worldwide based on a contemporary model of physical education. Course modules were designed in collaboration with Singapore International Foundation after conducting adequate market and needs analysis.

Education ministry issued a letter to the Paro College of Education asking for the list of trainees undergoing Diploma in Physical Education and Sports Coaching on December 6, 2016.

“The ministry would like to inform the college administration that the ministry is planning for the recruitment of School Sports Instructors (SSIs) in the schools,” stated the letter.

“We expected the first cohort to work as SSIs after graduation, but it’s disheartening to learn that there is a gap between the qualifications of the graduates and the job given by the concerned stakeholder. Diploma graduates of other colleges are placed in higher grades, whereas DPESC graduates are given the opportunities that are at par with the class XII graduates.” Puspalal Sharma said.

Assessment Study on the School Sports Instructors, 2013 commissioned by the Department of Youth and Sports revealed a disparity in terms of inadequacy of sports facilities, shortage of HPE teachers, instructors, and lack of coordination among the stakeholders.

DYS’ deputy chief sports coordinator, Nima Gyeltshen, said that there was no consultation with the department of youth and sports, and the ministry while the course started.

“There was no official correspondence from the college and we did not assure jobs for the DPESC graduates. The minimum requirement for SSIs is XII passed out with the sporting background. It was open to all who fulfilled the minimum requirement. However, they have to sit for the selection interview as per the RCSC rule;” he said, “we considered their qualification and gave them priority while shortlisting.”

Nima Gyeltshen said that the initiative of recruiting SSI began in 2008 as the interim measure to meet the immediate requirement of the sports instructors.

“The requirement was urgent. We could not wait for the first batch to graduate in 2017,” he said.

Today, there are 139 SSIs in the country. There is no record of the numbers of Physical Education teachers in the country.

“Physical Education in the schools is taught mostly by general graduates. The SSIs would supplement PE teacher with the technical works and sports programmes. SSIs are not allowed to take up PE classes. However, the department is in consultation with the ministry to streamline the situation,” Nima Gyeltshen said.

He said that the department is comfortable with the current position as they have no authority to upgrade the position. However, the department encouraged the SSIs to upgrade their qualification through the courses offered by Bhutan Olympic committee and the federations.

“Immediate up-gradation of the post is not possible. However, this would be possible once we have enough qualified people in the field,” said Nima Gyeltshen.

DYS expects each school to have a minimum of one HPE teacher and an SSI each in the future.

Puspalal Sharma said that the college would collaborate with DYS in the future to reduce the gap.

“We will review the programme after two batches as per the norms of the academic wheel. However, it is equally important for DYS to observe the courses offered. We are planning to begin a degree programme in the future to meet the current situation,” he said.

School Sports Programme is coordinated by the Games and Sports Division under DYS. HPE curriculum developed by Royal Education Council is administered and implemented by DYS since the beginning of year.