Some thoughts as we head back to school

Good news there have been aplenty and not-so-good ones too. Heavy rains broke our levees and washed away our roads and bridges. Conduits cut, challenges myriad were thrown at us to wade through. And we did. Storms raged and destroyed our crops, leaving our farmers sitting by their hearth, worried about foodstock that would have seen them through the year comfortably. Although we could only vainly wish for more, moments of sunshine and hope visited us in measure by all means no less.

All in all these thirty long days was a good time, especially for our teachers and students. The long summer break gave our children the time to go back to their parents and help them with their seasonal chores. Our happy little society being what it is, more farmhands in the fields is always good. At a time when our traditional social structure is fast breaking down due to the unrelenting power of urban glitz and glamour, connecting or going back to our roots has become critically important. Our real values and identity are in our villages where our aging parents are. Although it was not very popular in the beginning when idea rolled down from the minister’s table, the summer break allowed our children to connect to our past and present so intimately they are grateful the break was long. They now have a clear vantage point to look far into the future – their own future and of this country’s. And this is all very good.

Our teachers spent good part of the break attending professional development (PD) programmes. For the professional lot who do not get a lot of training opportunities and a lot of perks they feel they rightly deserve, the PD programme was more than a refresher exercise. At the heart of the programmes lay the aspiration to empower our teachers with effective pedagogic novelties of the modern age and to encourage them to give their best. PD exercises besides, though, a lot more will be required to motivate our teachers. Initiatives to reduce the burden that our teachers today shoulder besides classroom teaching is laudable and welcome. More such sensible and urgent interventions coming from the ministry might then culminate in the flowering of what Education Minister Norbu Wangchuk calls change in education through 21st century pedagogy. Ideas are just as good as what we make of them.

Vacation is over and it is school time again. But as we prepare our satchels and tidy our shoes, we are yet again faced with that deeply searching question which never seems to go away: Why are our teachers leaving? This half of academic session alone, we have already lost 120 teachers.

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