Question hour: The academic curriculum for the three new colleges to be established in 2017 in the east, has been confirmed.

Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay during the question hour session at the National Council yesterday told the House that the Gyalpoizhing Central School will become a college for social sciences. The Yonphula Centenary Institute of Education in Trashigang will provide a Masters in English programme and the Zorig Chusum Institute in Trashiyangtse will become a college for Rigzhung with specialisation in Zorig.

Lyonchoen confirmed the curriculum for the new colleges while responding to a question raised by the eminent member, Dasho Tashi Wangyal.

Dasho Tashi Wangyel raised concerns over the government’s rationale behind establishing three new colleges while the rest of the existing colleges and schools in the country have been suffering from challenges such as poor quality education because of lack of adequate financial supports.

Lyonchoen said that the main reason behind establishing the colleges was to address the ever-increasing number of class XII students every year. He said that last year 9,736 students in the country completed their higher secondary  education.

“It is estimated that this year 10,833 students will complete their class XII and next year 11,500 will complete theirs. By 2019 we will have some 13,016 students who will have completed their class XII,” said the Prime Minister.

He added that the nine colleges under the Royal University of Bhutan (RUB) are able to take in only 3,500 students annually. He said that in addition some 200 students are sent to study abroad on government scholarships every year.

However, Lyonchoen said that more than 6,000 students are still left behind. He said that annually around 5,000 students go abroad to study on private expenses.

The Prime Minister said that on an average a single student spends a minimum of Nu 200,000 to study abroad adding that annually around a billion is spent on studies abroad. “This is not a healthy practise for our economy,” said Lyonchhen.

Lyonchoen said that one of the reasons for establishing the colleges was also to curb the expenditure made on such practices. He added that the quality of education in colleges outside the country was also questionable.

He said that some of the graduates who completed their studies from colleges abroad were not recognised by some of the government agencies in the country. While many of the students go astray without proper monitoring, as a result of which investment made on them by the parents is being wasted, he added.

Lyonchoen said that the establishment of the colleges was decided after carrying out feasibility studies in consultation with relevant agencies.

He said that on the directives of the Cabinet, a committee at the ministerial level and a task force was established to carry out the study for the establishment. Some members of the task force were from RUB.

Lyonchoen also said that Gyalpoizhing Central School was identified because the school has 65 teachers of which 15 hold a Masters degree. Moreover, he said that the school campus has an area of 54 acres of land with adequate facilities.

The Centenary Institute of Education in Yonphula has basic infrastructures apart from having 73 acres of land, which was feasible for a college, according to Lyonchoen. He added that the Trashiyangtse Zorig Institute was feasible because the institute already had a curriculum in Zorig including adequate area and infrastructures.

Younten Tshedup