Teacher shortage is growing. It is a cause of big concern.
More than 345 teachers have left the school system in the past six months. Some schools are making do without specific subject teachers, especially in STEM subjects.
At a time when Bhutan is trying to give a leg up to STEM and other vital subjects!
For example, Class 11 and 12 Commerce students of Samtengang Central School in Wangdue have not had an accountancy teacher after the midterm break. As exams near, students are worried.
Samtengang Central School is just a picture in the news today. Even the thromde schools that are somehow more privileged are facing a severe shortage of teachers.
There is a big change happening in the country today, which is good. The education sector, however, seems to be lounging about.
The impact is going to be serious. For all the change that we are aiming for, the education sector has to be at the centre of this movement.
The simple truth is that today higher education has no scope and purpose in Bhutan. After the completion of high school certificate exams, children choose to go abroad because in doing so there is a double advantage for them. One can study and earn, at the same time.
What this trend can bring about, in the long run, is a massive gap that the country can never be able to fill. When young people leave and those the state of who man the system here looks more volatile, the country is not nurturing and attracting fresh talents.
Teacher management has been a problem for a long time. None of the ways that we tried has worked because the solutions we looked at have been ad hoc at best.
Between 2020 and August 2022, 710 teachers resigned from the system—504 teachers resigned voluntarily; 136 teachers superannuated; 37 took advantage of the retirement scheme; 30 left on forced retirement; three were terminated. More are expected to leave.
But the question is: why are our teachers leaving even with a handsome salary raise.
Teachers are leaving because the system is failing them. Their leaving is going to have a huge impact on our schools.
Looks like we are losing development focus. We have first to strengthen the sectors that will put the country on the front foot. Agriculture, for example, and private sector development. These are the two sectors that can strengthen Bhutan’s economy. When the country’s economy is on good footing, education keeping pace with it, can keep our people inside the country.
Losing teachers is the sign that should nudge us to stop and rethink. When our schools do not have enough teachers, nothing will go right.