In a desperate move to solve acute shortage of teachers in Gayshingoan Primary School in Samtse, the school and gewog administration and parents collected voluntary contributions to hire volunteer teachers last year.
They recruited three high school and fresh university graduates and paid them through their own contributions.
School’s principal Gap Tshering said that without proper training, the new recruits struggled to teach and had to be monitored. “But we are out of options.”
The move has raised questions on the quality of service delivered but the school and parents wanted someone to engage their children in learning rather than leaving students unattended in empty classes.
“As the ministry could not provide sufficient teachers, we allowed temporary measures like joint school-parent initiative,” said Samtse Chief Education Officer Karma Sonam Chophel. “It compromised the quality of education.”
This year, the school has six teachers which is much lower than the required number, said Gap Tshering. “There are eight sections in the school and we are short of two teachers. We are planning to recruit contract teachers.”
The volunteer teachers were relieved last month.
But Gayshingoan is not the only school facing teacher shortage in Samtse. This year, the dzongkhag is short of about 60 teachers even after recruiting 102 regular teachers.
The dzongkhag is in need of mostly Dzongkha, Science and general subject teachers.
As a result, for the past three consecutive years, the school was ranked 24th among those with the poorest quality of education.
Member of Parliament (MP) for Tashichhoeling, Dil Maya Rai questioned the Education Minister JB Rai during the question-answer session at the National Assembly yesterday.
The education minister admitted the problem. He said that the ministry had allocated the highest number of teachers to Samtse this academic session. “We have teacher shortage across all dzongkhags. Of 578 new teachers, 102 were deployed in Samtse.”
The ministry would recruit contract teachers to replace those who left for studies, maternity and extraordinary leave to address the temporary shortage, the minister said.
Meanwhile, Maenbi Tsaenkhar MP Choki Gyeltshen asked if the government had any plans to regularise contract employees in schools to deliver efficient services. The MP said that when contract employees in schools go out seeking regular jobs, some classes were left unattended for days and weeks, even.
Lyonpo said that although the ministry had talks with the Royal Civil Service Commission, it wouldn’t allow.