PM orders immediate solution to B.Ed issue

This comes in the wake of RCSC announcing 182 vacancies for 417 B.Ed. graduates 

Employment: Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay called for an emergency meeting yesterday for the Royal Civil Service Commission, education ministry and labour ministry to review the B.Ed. graduates issue and come up with immediate solutions, while also exploring job prospects for them in the coming years.

The education ministry and RCSC were directed to immediately undertake a re-assessment of the teacher deployment, and decide how many of them could be employed on contract.

“Lyonchhoen directed education ministry, Gross National Happiness Commission Secretariat and RCSC on recruitment of B.Ed. graduates on contract in the central schools,” a press release from the prime minister’s office stated.

This comes after the B.Ed. graduate outcry on the number of vacancies announced by RCSC.  RCSC announced 182 vacancies for the 417 graduates, who are attending civil service selection interview currently.

On the same issue, the prime minister in the last meet-the-press session had said while it was wrong for B.Ed. graduates to expect a guaranteed job in the civil service on completion of their four-year teachers training, it was also a failure on the part of the government all along to have misled the graduates.

“So far, B.Ed. students have understood that, after graduation, they’d get a government job automatically, that was wrong to begin with,” he had said.

Referring to the existing Bhutanese teaching in Thailand, who are happy and satisfied, lyonchhoen asked the labour ministry to immediately get in contact with relevant agencies for enhanced recruitment of Bhutanese in Thailand and abroad, according to the press release.

The prime minister, at the recent Vibrant Gujarat summit, talked to the Australian delegation about sending young Bhutanese to Australia, which, he said, had been received positively.  He said that he would work on it on a priority basis.

In yesterday’s emergency meeting, Business Opportunity and Information Centre (BoIC) was instructed to “aggressively” pursue a plan of action to develop entrepreneurial skills in young Bhutanese for self-employment and to generate jobs.

A joint proposal outlining strategies to address the issue would be submitted at the end of the week.

While the issue of teacher shortage has remained a chronic problem for the education ministry, the country has enough teachers in terms of numbers, education officials had said several times in the past.

Although the Royal University of Bhutan has already notified class XII graduate students, who would like to seek admission to any of the colleges, but it was yet to be decided if the university would continue to enrol the same number of students in the two education colleges.

Vice-chancellor Nedup Dorji said, while the drastic reduction in vacancies was quite unexpected, it was realised that this day would come, and it was the reality at the end of the day.

“For RUB to review its strategic plans, it’s crucial for us to know how many teachers are required for another 5-10 years,” he said. “We’ll have to adapt to the situation. Be agile and respond to external forces.”

He added that the university’s job was to produce quality teacher for the Bhutanese market.  If the decreasing vacancies meant there were enough teachers, he said, RUB might have to diversify some programmes, and focus on professional development courses.

“Education ministry, RCSC and RUB needs to discuss further before the next batch of students are enrolled,” he said.

Meanwhile, in the last two years, 865 new teachers from the two colleges of education were recruited into civil service.  They were B.Ed, post-graduate diploma in education (PGDE) graduates and contract teachers.

But in those two years 440 teachers, including community-based teachers, civil servant teachers, expatriate contract teachers and national contract teachers, left the profession, according to the annual education statistic, 2014.

In an earlier interview, chief human resource officer with the education ministry, Kinley Gyeltshen, had said that the sector was not comfortable with the number of mathematics and physics teacher today, but heading towards becoming comfortable.

“If we go as per student-teacher ratio, we’ve enough teachers,” he had said.

The scarcity allowance that was introduced in the past, when there was teacher shortage, has also been withdrawn since last July, after the finance ministry got an assurance from the education ministry that there were enough mathematics and physics teachers.

According to the education statistics, there are 8,572 teachers as of 2014, with 7,873 teaching in government schools and 699 in private.

By Nirmala Pokhrel

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