This is the new education minister’s first directive

Education: On the day the new education minister, Norbu Wangchuk took charge of the ministry, a memo commissioning a task force to study the workload of teachers in the country was issued.

This is one of the first initiatives of the minister who assumed ministership of education on April 8.

The chief programme officer of the school planning and coordination division, Phuntsho Wangdi said teachers have to fulfil both an academic and non-academic role. Besides teaching, teachers also have to monitor other co-curricular activities like clubs, sports, cultural activities, among others.

“In the process, they (teachers) land up over-loaded,” he said. “We may have good system, good curriculum and good schools but if teachers are not motivated, quality of education is compromised.”

This, he said, is the new minister’s priority. A five-member team comprising of officials from the Royal Education Council, teacher professional support division, blueprint implementation division, a principal and a teacher, has been established.

Phuntsho Wangdi said the task force has three weeks to conduct an in-depth study and provide recommendations to the ministry for necessary action.

Officials said the new minister is also posting more than 8,000 letters to individual teachers and principals across the country, expressing his gratitude and assuring his support.

“My dear teacher, I am certain that you are busy in the swing of things at school, working hard to provide the best to our children every day, going out of your ways and beyond duty. I know this because not very long ago, I was also a teacher. I am still a teacher at heart…” it is written in his letter to the teachers.

He writes: “besides education, I do not know of any other force that is as powerful to create a future that we desire.”

He expressed his gratitude to all teachers working long hours, sacrificing personal comforts, sleeping late, preparing lessons and correcting students’ work.

“The stakes in our profession are high. If we fail, our nation fails,” he writes.

On his part he promises to give his best. “I do not bring extraordinary talents but be assured that I will work tirelessly for the cause of teachers who want to be good teachers – making a difference to our children.”

He also wrote a similar letter to all principals separately. In his letter, he said principals are true leaders, enduring hardships and sacrifices, going out of their ways to ensure that students get the best of care and guidance.

“Our schools have progressed a lot and I know this first hand because I have had the privilege of visiting many of you in the course of the past three years,” he writes. “Your actions and inactions will either make or break our schools.”

He has also assured his support to transform the education system into one of the finest in the world.

As a minister, he writes that he will work in close consultation with all teachers and principals because he justified that the best of policies would fail if people implementing them do not deliver as expected.

“That is the gap I will always try and fill,” he writes.

The letters will be circulated today.

 By Tshering Dorji