Education ministry is bringing in much-needed changes in the school system. Although its decision to shorten winter vacation by two weeks and to lengthen summer break to a month has not been popular with many teachers and parents, the decision to recruit over 200 wardens and matrons is being received well.

Royal Civil Service Commission has already approved the recruitment of 200 matrons and wardens this year. Going by the plan, at least 402 support staff will be recruited in the next four years. What this will result in is reduction of burden from our teachers who are today heavily overworked. Because teachers have to also shoulder the responsibilities of non-teaching activities, they end up working not less than 18 hours a day.

It has been found that our teachers are engaged in five periods of 50 minutes each daily besides their regular involvement in extra-curricular and co-curricular activities. Many are bogged down with management and administrative work, which does not give them enough time for lesson planning, assessment and research. Also, teachers are engaged even on Saturdays and government holidays preparing for various national and dzongkhag-level events.

Reducing teacher workload will take some time and effort. It will not be easy and swift considering the shortage of about 3,000 teachers we face today. Recruitment of support staff so is a good beginning. And the ministry has a plan to recruit about 1,630 trained teachers by 2020. Reducing workload of teachers from 18 hours and day to 14, thus, looks very much achievable. In fact, it looks very likely that we will even succeed with our “One-subject, One-teacher” policy.

When our teachers are tired and burnt-out, it affects their performance. And they do not stay. More and more teachers have been leaving the profession over the years. Our teacher morale has suffered because we could not make teaching an attractive profession. For education to succeed, we must first look at the teachers. How do we keep them in the field? Losing seasoned and dedicated teachers will have serious implications.