Teachers across Bhutan will attend orientation programme for National School Curriculum (NSC). This will happen from April, to better equip teachers in teaching the National School Curriculum (known earlier as the New Normal Curriculum).

Since the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic, the way we educate our children had to change. It wasn’t a small change; we are still learning to adjust to cope with the new system. What we must understand is that this change was a long time coming.

Understanding the basics, NSC is about teaching students “why and how” rather than “what” of learning, which is aimed at competency development. This is not altogether new because the education ministry has been making earnest effort to this shift, slowly, because an about-turn is always difficult—preparation, which is about the country’s future, is not easy.

Since roll-out of NSC from academic year 2021, gaps and opportunities have been found. As Wangpo Tenzin said, internet connectivity, especially in rural areas, lack of orientation for teachers to properly deliver the competency-based curriculum, and in the assessment of the students in the new curriculum are still major challenges.

That’s why orientation for teachers is critically important. Teachers will need robust training to depart from the past system. For example, many primary school teachers, internet connectivity is the main challenge. And NSC is ICT-based. Even with the new system, assessment tools have remained the same.

The orientation must address these problems. Otherwise, nothing will change with competency-based education theory with much emphasis on competency.

“Competency can be seen with pen and paper assessment … but what we cannot assess and what has been lacking earlier is that we haven’t been giving any emphasis to emotional, and psychosocial development,” Wangpo Tenzin said.

All these changes must be seen in the reality of rising unemployment. Why are Bhutanese youth not finding employment? The bigger question is why are even the best qualified Bhutanese leaving for Australia?

The Bhutanese education system must rise above the system that served Bhutan well then. This is a new century. Bhutan must aim to bring down unemployment to zero and even find top jobs abroad. The New Normal Curriculum can give us this; but we must nurture the new system well.