Revision and rationalisation of school curriculum and instructional time, one of the recommendations of the Bhutan Education Blueprint 2014-2024, which has been long overdue, is here finally. Any further delay would have been costly.
The Royal Education Council has notified the schools about the changes to be incorporated effective immediately. Although new edition of textbooks will take some time to hit the schools, teachers have been given a sort of guide to implement the changes seamlessly.
The changes in curriculum and instructional time were compelled the idea of 21st century education that necessitated rethinking school curriculum in the backdrop of the country’s changing economic and development realities. More important, schools had been using textbooks with outdated information. Contents were peppered with errors. Curriculum thinning had to be done also because it was found that Bhutanese students were carrying heavy bags which affected learning. In many remote parts of the country, children still have to walk miles to and from school.
Revision and rationalisation of school curriculum and instructional time should therefore be viewed as an important first step in the great enterprise of transforming the nation’s education sector. Even as we speak, many subjects still do not have curriculum framework which makes measuring learning standards and outcomes of a subject challenging.
Besides developing curriculum frameworks for ten subjects—History, Geography, Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET), Accountancy, Commerce, Economics, Social Studies, Values Education, Media Studies and Bhutan Civics, among others, radical transition is being planned. Subjects could go textbook-less as World History for Class XI-XII already is to make students more creative, critical, analytical and research-based learners. With the plan to include TVET as the fourth stream, curriculum framework for TVET and teaching-learning materials in nine selected trades has been developed.
The new changes are expected to address some of the major problems facing the nation’s education system today—declining quality of education, shortage of teachers and inadequate infrastructure. However, the changes should be well researched and planned. The danger is that we could otherwise be heading straight to a kind of disaster that cannot be repaired easily. Damage on the future generations will be expensive and sad.