YK Poudel

Pelkhil School in Thimphu will become Bhutan’s first private school to offer a Cambridge curriculum from next year.

The school is expected to be accredited by Cambridge International Education next month.

The Bhutan Council for School Examinations and Assessment (BCSEA) held a consultation meeting with 20 private schools on September 4.

In August 2022, the Cambridge International Education group was established, streamlining Cambridge Assessment International Education, Cambridge University Press Education and Cambridge Partnership for Education. The unified entity was able to offer schools and governments worldwide a seamless experience of working with Cambridge.

Principal of Pelkhil School, Rie K. Dorji said that the school plans to start with Cambridge Primary in 2024 and keep upgrading every year.

“Students of class PP, I, and II next year will be the first batch of students who will be taking up Cambridge board,” she said.

The class size will be smaller in strength ensuring better attention and growth of the student.

Dzongkha will be a separate subject which every student must take.

“The Cambridge board offers and establishes a firm foundation of language and numeracy skills in preparation for the later years. Cambridge Primary curriculum gives flexibility to ensure that all students move forward together without overly burdening teachers with too many subjects,” she said.

The need, Rie K. Dorji said, came after His Majesty’s national address in 2020 emphasising the need for diversity and choices and to be accountable to the parents and students who have invested in the school.

According to the Principal, many parents are sending their children abroad for schooling in internationally accredited and recognised schools. “Things can be improvised in Bhutan with input from the schools and the ministry. This can help address the burden on the teachers when the attrition rate in education has been increasing at a leap-bound rate.”

She said the National Education Assessment (NEA) report found that 52 percent of the student studying in class three missed their classes due to poor health. “Such things have to be considered by schools to improve.”

The school has shortlisted six teachers to attend training on the Cambridge board. Then they have to be certified to teach the international board.

Muna Chhetri, a Phonics Teacher at Pelkhil said that the school has already been teaching the blended Cambridge subject for the students. “The way they learn with the mixed mode is a new experience for the teacher and the students.”

“The Cambridge guide offers an opportunity for the students to learn differently,” she said. “The module is well-balanced enhancing creative thinking, reading skills, listening, writing and analysing skill of the students.”

Officiating Controller of Examinations, BCSEA, Kinley Dorji, said that BCSEA has been assigned for a consultation meeting with the private schools and the report has been submitted to the ministry. “The consultation meeting is not the final one. Education and skills development ministry will review the report and proceed.” The schools were allowed to look into internationally accepted boards and propose such initiatives. “For now, schools cannot decide what to do on their own.”

The school has to pay about 3,500 pounds to Cambridge as an annual registration fee. However, the principal said that this will not affect the registration fee.