Graduates of Bhutanese and Himalayan Studies (BHS) from the College of Language and Cultural Studies (CLCS) are not eligible for postgraduate diploma in education (PGDE) in History but can apply for PGDE in Guidance and Counseling and public administration, according to the Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC).

During the recent National Graduate Orientation Programme, a CLCS graduate had requested the civil service commission to recruit BHS graduates for PGDE, History if they graduate with honours.

At the orientation, a senior human resource officer with the RCSC, Jigme Norbu, said that a technical committee during a study of the course found that the course did not provide in-depth study about History, which was not enough to teach the subject in schools, especially for classes XI and XII.

The issue first came to the commission’s notice in 2015, when the first batch graduated, an RCSC official said. This was the third time BHS graduates have raised the concern with commission. The graduates claim that they are capable of teaching History subject in high schools. A total of 399 graduates have graduated in BHS so far.

“We also wrote to Royal University of Bhutan (RUB) earlier stating reasons why such graduates are not eligible for PGDE in History,” the official said. “We had also explained during the 2016 orientation programme when one graduate asked the same question and explained everything about what the committee observed in 2015.”

The official added that when the first batch of BHS graduates applied for PGDE in History, the commission received a request from the Vice Chancellor to accept these candidates for PGDE in History.

“The request was made, as the graduates have studied comprehensive courses on histories and heritages of Bhutan in relation to other Himalayan countries. A committee with representatives from relevant agencies reviewed the course content based on the request.”

A Bachelors degree in the relevant field is required for candidates to appear the Bhutan Civil Service Examination, according to the commission. For instance, to be eligible to apply for PGDE in Dzongkha, a candidate must possess B.A in Dzongkha. A one-year training focuses only on pedagogy.

During the review, the official said it was observed that RUB selects candidates for Bachelors programmes based on the marks obtained in class XII examinations. For instance, a candidate should have high marks in Science subjects to be selected for B.Sc courses.

“However, BHS candidates are accepted if they have pass marks in History but with high marks in Dzongkha and English subjects,” he said. This selection is in contrast to the criteria used for selection of candidates for B.A in History & Dzongkha where a minimum of 60 percent in History subject is required.

The review also found the course lacking content on civic education, and medieval and contemporary world/international history required to learn in high schools. The History syllabus for Class X and XII contains 60 percent World History and 40 percent Bhutan History.

“One year Honors will not make any difference as course content is not related to History subject,” the official said. “RUB is an autonomous and independent institution, so the RCSC is not consulted when the course is developed.”

Meanwhile, the president of ILCS, Lungtaen Gyatso, said that the course was designed to provide in-depth study about Bhutanese and Himalayan Studies, and not specifically meant to teach History or to become History teacher.

“But the general statement made by the RCSC that the course did not have in-depth study about History is not clear and misleading. We don’t understand if they are questioning our quality of the programme in general or only talking about the History subject,” he said. “But if they meant teaching History as a subject, then we agree. Our intention was never to teach History in schools.”

He said the BHS mainly focuses on Bhutanese History, which is taught in-depth, although, one module consists of World and Indian history in general. The course is to make students learn and be able to talk about Bhutan and Himalaya.

“We did a survey and found that it would be a perfect content for Bhutanese, even for international level and the course was relevant and important in Bhutan,” he said.

However, Lungtaen Gyatso, said, that any course needs to be reviewed every five years. “But for BHS, since it has become an issue, the college is already reviewing the programme to revise and make it relevant, dynamic, and current from 2018.”

According to the programme document, BHS was introduced in 2012 and the course is the first of its kind in the RUB system, covering in-depth course of study addressing the cultures, histories, and heritages of Bhutan in context of other Himalayan cultures.

Director of Academic Affairs with RUB, Yangka, said the course is not a History programme but about Himalayan studies. “They can appear for general category and get employed if they get through,” he said.

Yangchen C Rinzin