Education: Class nine students will have Environmental Science as an optional subject from this year.

The subject will be introduced in class nine and eventually be offered between classes nine to 12.

While it will be introduced across the country it will not be compulsory for schools to offer the subject to the students.

Department of Curriculum Research and Development (DCRD) specialist, Wangpo Tenzin, said that the purpose of having Environmental Science is to give importance to the environment as it is one of the pillars of Gross National Happiness. The other purpose is that environmental science has many opportunities for research as it will require learning through life related activities.

“Having environment as a subject is not a new idea, it is a part of the 10th Five Year Plan,” said Wangpo Tenzin. “We also found good reasons to have Environmental Science as a subject.”

He said students are in environment and through environment they will try to understand issues. Students have many opportunities for learning using environment.

The subject includes topics like pollution, biology, the eco-system, climate change, people and environment, and sustainable development.

DCRD curriculum specialist Wangchuck Rabten said the subject is about raising awareness so that the environment is protected.

“The subject will be about environment like global warming, climate change, conservations, and give idea to students about how we can go sustainable development,” he added.

DCRD officials said local authors were asked to produce the class nine and 10 Environmental Science text books for Nu 50,000 a chapter. However, the resulting text book was similar to journal reporting with lots of information and no concept, he explained. He said it is important for a text book to have concept and each chapter to have 12 to 15 pages.

The text books were made with the assistance of the Centre for Environment Education (CEE) in Ahmedabad, India. About 70 – 80 percent of the text books written by the local writers have been altered but the information provided still used.

DCRD, Royal Society for Protection of Nature (RSPN) and school teachers conducted the final review of the book.

DCRD will improve the text book based on feedback from teachers and students. After two-three years of use, DCRD will publish the first edition of the text book.

More than 70 teachers, who will teach the subject, were trained by RSPN and science teachers in Bajothang in January. Currently, another 107 school teachers are being trained in Gyalpoizhing.

Teachers nationwide were invited to attend the training. Officials said that based on the number of participants, almost all schools are interested in introducing the subject.

“Having this course will give children more options to choose in place of IT and Economics,” said an official.

The introduction of the subject is a joint effort of RSPN and DRCD. Bhutan Trust Fund for Environmental Conservation funded the introduction of the subject.

By Dechen Tshomo