Yangchen C Rinzin

The 1,800 Class XI students who would be enrolled in 20 private schools on government scholarships this year could be the last batch.

This is because the government, starting next year, plans to take in all students who are awarded the “pass certificate” in government schools. This also means there will be no students on government scholarships in private schools.

The government will absorb 9,849 students in 65 public higher secondary schools with about 291 sections this year.

After the education ministry did away with the Class X cut-off point in 2019, most students were absorbed in the public schools and the remaining were provided full scholarship and enrolled in private schools. The scholarship fee was Nu 40,000 for day scholars and Nu 70,000 for boarders.

An official from the private division said that a few schools were upgraded with additional infrastructures to create extra classrooms to accommodate extra students this year.

“If we create a similar extension by next year where constructions are already underway in three schools, we shall be able to take in all students by next year,” he said. “Then this year will be the last batch private schools would be getting students.”

The official said that although there is no formal letter that this will be the last batch, the government had already indicated since the beginning that the distribution of students will decrease yearly and the government would absorb all students in public schools by 2022.

About 7,808 students were absorbed in public schools in 2019. The 21 private schools received only 4,003 students on government scholarships.

Last year, private schools saw 2,068 students on scholarship after negotiating with the government that they would have to close schools if the government absorbed most of the students in public schools.

However, one private school closed down last year following the loss in business.

The official said that as per the request made by the Private School Association of Bhutan and as approved by the education ministry, the admission will be kept free and let the students choose the private school of their own choice.

“The association has also requested not to distribute students based on the equal division, which means dividing 1,800 students by 20 schools.”

Students who are interested in the private schools can start registering once the registration opens from April 18 after the Class X result is out. Once the private schools are filled with 1,800 students, rest would be absorbed in the public schools.

However, if admissions are not registered online will not be considered for the government scholarship.

The students will have to also top-up the fees if the school’s approved fee structure is higher than the scholarship fee. “But no additional fee would be charged if the students fall under needy students,” an official said. “Once the student is admitted to a particular school, the student will not be allowed to change the school.”

The ministry also requires all schools to maintain a good teacher-student ratio in the classroom to facilitate effective teaching and learning, and maintain a class size of 34 students.

The official claimed that the public schools have maintained the required class size, which is why schools are extended wherever possible to absorb all class XI students.

In an earlier interview with Kuensel, Education Minister Jai Bir Rai said that the decision to absorb all students in public schools is not new. It was, he said, decided when the ministry decided to do away with the Class X cut-off points. “The students that would be enrolled in a private school on government scholarship this year would be the last batch.”