Seventy-four labs have been completed and over 11,000 computers distributed across Bhutan in preparation to implement the new Information, Communication, and Technology (ICT) curriculum beginning with the next academic year.
Through the Digital Drukyul Flagship Programme, bringing internet connectivity to schools is underway. And, through the Education Flagship Programme, attempts are being made to ensure that the students are engaged with ICT from pre-primary onwards.
As part of the flagship programme, the Ministry of Education identified 120 laboratories that either had to be remodelled or reconstructed. Forty-six labs are under construction despite labour challenges, and are expected to be completed by the next academic session.
“By September 2021, all the schools, including ECRs, received computers and those with an ICT lab in place started implementing a revised ICT curriculum,” said an education official.
However, a few schools in high-risk zones (Samtse, lower Chukha, and Phuentsholing) could only begin teaching ICT by November due to the lockdown.
According to Sang Ngag Chholing Lower Secondary School’s principal, Kezang Choden, the school has 28 working computers, out of which 23 were provided by the ministry.
The school has 275 students. The computer to student ratio stands at 1:12.
Teachers across Bhutan were also trained in coding to facilitate the implementation of the curriculum.
Education officials said that around 1,000 teachers were trained in coding, enough to teach the curriculum in schools across Bhutan.
There are plans to train a few more teachers in coding.
“Moreover, the ministry is planning to train teachers in the pedagogy and assessment aspect of coding,” the official said.
However, some principals are worried about limited coding teachers.
One of the principals said that with only one teacher trained to teach coding in his school, he was worried the teacher could be overburdened.
In Merak Primary School, Trashigang, fiber optics installation has begun. The school has over 200 students.
In Sang Ngag Chholing LSS, a tentative date for installation of the fiber optics has been issued. Kezang Choden said the existing broadband connection in the school is weak.
Out of a Nu 1 billion budget, Nu 800 million has already been spent on the flagship programme.