Following grievances against the Individual Work Plan (IWP), a performance evaluation system for teachers, Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay has commissioned a review of the IWP for the education sector through an executive order.

The executive order, signed by the education minister Norbu Wangchuk, which was released on the ministry’s Facebook page on May 15, stated that the review should be submitted to the Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC).

The ministry has constituted a task force with seven members. Department of school education’s, director general, Karma Tshering is the chairperson while the members include a principal, two vice principals from two schools in Thimphu, dzongkhag education officer, chief HRO, and chief of education monitoring division.

“The task force is advised to review the IWP and recommend measures and changes that may be needed to improve the IWP system and its implementation,” the order stated. “The task force would be considering concerns of teachers and schools.”

The task force would also look into concerns like increased documentation burden on the teachers such as gathering evidence for the work done causing administration workload burden, moderation exercise carried out in the teacher resource centres (TRC), potential risk of diverting teacher attention from the actual teaching and assessment to other activities, and potential unfairness in comparing teachers’ performance with the performance of other administration and management personnel in the schools.

“It would also look into the use of Performance Management System (PMS) rankings, which uses averages of the PMS scores and provide undue advantages and disadvantages to schools and the risk of causing disharmony in schools and impairing collegiality between school leadership and faculty, amongst teachers, between support staff and teachers,” the order stated.

The review should be completed and submitted to the education ministry by July 2 according to the executive order.

Most teachers Kuensel spoke to on the request of anonymity shared that although the IWP was introduced with good intention, the main issue is the moderation process, which has unrealistic criteria.

The IWP based on six domains – leadership and management practices; green domain initiatives; curriculum practices; holistic assessment; broader learning, and community vitality.

Some teachers shared that this has caused an overburden of workload because teachers have to keep records of other activities besides the daily lesson planning, book correction and preparation of teaching learning materials.

One of the teachers from Trashigang said that whether there is a reason or not, he tried to conduct several parent meetings in a month to make sure he gets good ratings.

“We’ve to gather evidence for the work we’ve done which is against the government’s initiative to go paperless because this involves lots of paper works,” a teacher in Pemagatshel said. “An individual who can keep evidence manages to get good ratings and this has made us busier and we cannot concentrate on the academics.”

Many said that this has led to nepotism and favoritism when it comes to performance ratings because if a teacher has good rapport with the principal, he or she is rated very good or good and even outstanding while other teachers, even if he/she is doing a good job is rated as need improvement.

A principal in Thimphu said there were also incidences where the Chief DEO, Dzongkhag HR officer and Principals in P2 A level carried out the moderation and the supervisors had a tough time to prepare and collect the evidences for his/her employee to justify the proposed rating.

“The principals have to provide evidences for putting someone in outstanding or need improvement category,” he said, adding sometimes there could be incidences where potential employee will be endorsed by the committee in ‘need improvement’, as his or her principal was not able to justify a higher rating.

Few shared that the teachers themselves have agreed to take turns to get the need improvement rating because the IWP mandates that someone has to be in the need improvement category.

“IWP is not fair because if one student in the class fails, it is reflected in the teacher’s IWP as under performance,” a teacher in Zhemgang said. “This compels the teacher to give good marks to weak students.”

Many teachers also pointed out that the ministry’s plan to retain teachers by reducing the workload to enhance professional development programme is in contrast to IWP.

The six domains in the IWP are same for the teachers and non-teaching staff and a challenge for non-teaching staff to set the target.

Meanwhile, RCSC chairperson, Dasho Karma Tshiteem, said that RCSC is proactively engaging the teachers who have raised concerns.

In an email interview, he said that most of the concerns appear to be due to misunderstanding of what should go into the IWPs and not the system itself, since performance management system in the form of the Performance Evaluation Rating (PER) existed even before.

“There should not be marked difference in terms of the administrative burden,” he said, adding the RCSC is working to address such issues through close monitoring and engagement of the education sector.

He added that RCSC has implemented the same to rest of the civil service without issues.

“Civil servants understand that a good performance management system has to make individuals accountable for their deliverables, align individual work plans to the organisations’ targets and differentiate those who perform from those who do not.”

Yangchen C Rinzin