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.