Passing the buck on a pledge?

Govt. says it awaits pvt. sector proposal so as to set up three new colleges in the east

Education: Establishing three new colleges in the east would not be possible in a short period of time, but upgrading the existing ones would address immediate issues, home minister Damcho Dorji said at the Assembly’s question hour session yesterday.

Lyonpo said that, although the government had received several foreign direct investment (FDI) proposals for the establishment of three colleges, the government is waiting for a private entity to come forward.

The home minister said this, on behalf of the education minister, in response to Bumdeling-Jamkhar’s member of parliament (MP) Duptho’s query.  MP Duptho asked for an update on the pledge of establishing three colleges in the east, as part of the government’s “rising east” programme, which has to date shown no sign of commencement.

Lyonpo Damcho Dorji further said that, if no Bhutanese private individuals were interested, the government would upgrade the Jigme Namgyel polytechnic in Samdrupjongkhar, Yonphula technical training institute in Trashigang, and the zorig chusum institute in Trashiyangtse.

However, MP Duptho probed further and said that what was pledged and what’s being planned now was different.

“If private individuals are to establish the pledged three colleges, it won’t provide free education for students,” he said.

Dramedtse Ngatshang MP Ugyen Wangdi added, “People in the east cannot afford to send their children in private colleges.” Moreover, private individuals, he said, could establish colleges anywhere in the country.

Opposition MP Nidup Zangpo reminded the house that the pledge was about establishing new colleges and not upgrading the existing institutes.

Meanwhile, North Thimphu MP Kinga Tshering suggested exploring possibilities of increasing admission in Sherubtse College in Kanglung.

On what was being done for the contract teachers, whose two-year contract ends this December, the home minister informed the house that, at the time of the recruitment of community based teachers, they were thoroughly briefed that they were recruited on a temporary basis, and an agreement was accordingly signed.

“What we need to understand is that it’s RCSC that provides jobs in the civil service and not the government,” lyonpo Damcho Dorji said. “If all jobseekers join civil service, who will do farming and who will join the military?”

However, he informed the house that the education ministry was submitting details of the community-based teachers to the ministry of labour and human resources to explore other avenues.

The government was also questioned on why some of children in the community weren’t enrolled in the central schools.  The home minister explained that one of the reasons for establishing central schools was to avoid informal boarding, so that students need not walk hours to reach school.

But if there are few cases of community members, whose children have not been enrolled in boarding, he said, it was because they preferred going to school from home.

By Nirmala Pokhrel

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