Treating the cause, not the symptom

There is no sector more important than education. We are talking about building our society with capable and responsible citizens. Commerce and relations are important, all right. But they do not help raise our young minds, who in their time, will have to steer the course of this nation’s future.

And, at the heart of successful education lies a healthy pool of teachers. We are increasingly losing good, passionate and experienced teachers. It is painful to witness this reality while we try out new, often irrelevant ideas, in the system. Long-term impact will be pitiful.

Our teachers are overburdened. They can do only so much with corrections to do every evening, lesson planning to do every night, and lesson itself to be delivered every day. And they have to oversee and make sure that non-academic activities are on track. That’s why our teachers feel that they are made to work way beyond what they are paid for.

And so our teachers leave the profession. The rate of teachers leaving the job is increasing by the year. And we seem to let this roll on as if nothing will happen. Of course we can never pay our teachers well, because what they offer is priceless. But we are not giving our teachers the space to perform to the best of their abilities so that they feel gratified about their all-important contribution.

Let our teachers do the academic job that they are trained for. Leave the rest to others. Arrangements must be made. When we engage our teachers in areas non-academic, quality of their delivery will suffer. We are already mired so deep in the debate about the declining quality of education.

We try various methods to raise the quality of education. The idea of the central school is one. We seem to be addressing the symptom, not the cause. And this is where we are getting it wrong.

Good news is that education minister Norbu Wangchuk has commissioned a task force to study the workload of teachers in the country. It is a good beginning. We hope that officials who are assigned the job of doing this are honest and recommend necessary actions. One wrong decision that we take will result in ruining a generation of Bhutanese who otherwise could contribute in the process of building our nation commendably so.

There can be nothing worse in our school system than a demotivated teacher. Do not overload our teachers. The task force will have to submit an ‘in-depth’ study and provide recommendations.

“…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.” This is from a letter that Lyonpo Norbu Wangchuk wrote to some 8,000 teachers.

And yes, there is no “other force that is as powerful to create a future that we desire.”

Recognising the work that our teachers do is important. What is more important, however, is how well we take care of our teachers.

Losing teachers is painful. Losing experienced teachers can be detrimental.

2 replies
  1. MIGNIEN
    MIGNIEN says:

    As every time of his comments , I aApologize IRFAN for the deepness of his comments of APRIL 12 .
    But Iam astonish that his comment was accepted by the moderator although my proper coment of APRIL 10 about religous personnel is still in awating moderation .

    And FORUM COLUMN is still “NOT FOUND” despites my numerous mail to the redaction staff of kuensel ???

    jcmignien@orange.fr

  2. irfan
    irfan says:

    The new Education Minister has commissioned a task force to study the workload of teachers in the country. The news itself is a new beginning provided that we all want to see some change in today’s education. Also good to hear is that the Minster himself has mentioned these words…”I was also a teacher. I am still a teacher at heart” in his letter to all the teachers in the country. If all our issues and challenges in today’s education are related to our teachers alone; only a teacher in his time may probably get things back on rails. Huh! Or is it that so simple a task to perform?

    If our teachers are struggling with ever increasing workloads; the students, at such a tender age group, are equally struggling to cope with education related pressure and study loads. If the demands of teachers for better working conditions, better salaries and better perks are justified for all the good reasons; the parents of a child struggling with his education loads can’t always demand subsidised education loads from the government. And when a child struggles with his education, even his parents feel the burden of our Education System in place. So what reform, if demanded, can be made available to the students as well!

    The proposed changes in the science text books and curriculum from class III to class XII can definitely be considered a reformation in thinking in education. It’s always difficult to find one with these words…”I was a student once. I am still a student as I continue to learn and teach my fellow students, juniors and even seniors at times”. But for teaching to happen for effectiveness, learning happening with students matters.

    And probably this can’t be denied that every student can actually learn on his own from what text books he reads or what study materials and learning assignments he gets. So is it possible that we can think of a learning student, whether at schools or colleges or universities, where his education is possible without the teachers or lecturers or professors? Can we think of bridging the gaps and giving direct access of a knowledge infrastructure to the students directly without the teaching agents in place? Can our teachers together produce a knowledge that can make our students learning teachers teaching their own needs for education?

    If education is an intellectual need for our philosophical and psychological growth in society; exactly what should be done with the knowledge on offer to make students learning scholars. Scholarships are much easily available in today’s education system than a process turning students to teaching scholars.

    So how do we create that environment of learning in our education system without considering the delivery agents for a moment? If knowledge can be created to device a new delivery mechanism bridging the gaps between learning to happen and students eager to learn; probably our teachers will be relieved from so many of their unnecessary workloads. Somewhere there is this high need to trigger creativity and innovation in our students when they are young at schools. They must see what they want to vision and they must learn to analyse and study what they want to observe as education to them. So exactly how a curriculum for teaching and books for learning be developed so that we can trigger self-learning behaviours for educational needs at our schools!

    Probably we have things to change in education for our teachers to feel lesser workloads. In every class of learning, a student must have the answer to the enquiry…”why this education for me and exactly where and how do I apply it?”. If we want education to be the backbones of a nation building process; a time in future must arrive faster when every student today can look into the mirror and say these words of motivation to himself…” I am what I wanted to be with my education. I am an One Man Nation”. And you need the responsibility that of an intellectual on your shoulders to say those words.

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