Yangchen C Rinzin

Royal Education Council has decided to allocate two classes for Information and Communications Technology (ICT) literacy from class IV to X in the next academic session.

This decision was made after many schools reported inadequate time for ICT classes.

Literacy with ICT curriculum for classes IV to IX was implemented from 2017 to 2019 depending on the readiness of the schools. It was in line with iSherig 1 (2014-2018) and Bhutan Education Blueprint (2014-2024).

However, only a class a week was allocated for ICT to provide students time to practice ICT skills.

REC director, Kinga Dakpa, said that while ICT was implemented with good intention to support students to learn and apply their acquired ICT skills in other subjects, limited period allocation posed a challenge.

He said that REC is focusing on the coding and artificial intelligence and one period in a week was not enough to learn to code. “In a year, the students get only 32 periods for ICT literacy.”

Kinga Dakpa said REC discussed the issues. “So it was decided to increase the classes, as recommended by the ICT committee.”

It was also found that there was lack of infrastructures like laboratory and computers, especially in lower secondary schools. In many schools, it was found that at least three students had to share one computer for the literacy class affecting the classes.

The director said that the extra class for ICT would be adjusted with the classes allocated for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) club in all the schools.

It was learnt that TVET club would not be implemented from the next academic session, which was supposed to start from class IV because of the lack of budget.

“We need to train the teachers to conduct such club for which we need budget,” Kinga Dakpa said. “We need to rationalize further, as it requires vocational and hands-on skills so, we hope we’ll be able to start from 2021.”

With the government’s plan to have education flagship, which is digitalising education and revamp TVET system, REC also decided to wait for government’s directives on the TVET clubs.

“We’ll wait for the flagship and revamp to finalise before taking any decision on the curriculum,” Kinga Dakpa said.

However, the additional ICT classes will not be implemented in seven schools that have already implemented TVET optional subject for three classes a week.

According to the Annual Education Statistics 2019, 253 public and 279 private schools have computers.

However, in terms of student-computer ratio, 23 students share one computer in public schools, while 16 students share a computer in private schools on an average.

The education ministry has targeted to achieve a student-computer ratio of 1:10 for secondary schools and 1:30 for primary schools.

While the ministry aims to enhance I-Sherig in the schools, the report found that more than 35 percent of both the public and private schools (5.3%) in the country do not have Internet connectivity.