MoE launches SIM for students without TV, internet and e-learning facilities

Thinley Namgay 

There were no children. Nor were there cards or hugging teachers as a group of teachers celebrated the Teacher’s Day on May 2.

The teachers of VTOB (Teachers of Bhutan Volunteers) dedicated the day to His Majesty The King with the theme “My King My Greatest Teacher” at Motithang Higher Secondary School.

Commemorating the day, VTOB also launched a five-minute VTOB YouTube channel. It is one of VTOB’s five future projects.

In this project, teachers and students can contribute a five-minute video on themes such as inspirations, academics, life skills, values, music, and awareness. Teachers or students portraying in the video should be in national dress and VTOB committee will verify the video before uploading.

Other future projects VTOB presented were Druk Lopens, Bhutan Children’s Writeshop, Lopen Lobthru Zhibtshoel, and the Lobthru Lamtoen.

Officiating Secretary with the Ministry of Education, Karma Tshering launched the SIM

Officiating Secretary with the Ministry of Education, Karma Tshering launched the SIM

Druk Lopens programme will help to create a VTOB magazine either in print or online. Bhutan Children’s writeshop aims to build writing habits in children both in Dzongkha and English.

Lopen-Lobthru Zhibtshoel is a teacher-student collaborative research project to enhance knowledge for students beyond classroom learning. Lobthru Lamtoen is a programme that will inculcate values, competencies, skills and attitudes for the students.

A Teacher’s Day musical video dedicated to His Majesty The King was also launched. Besides lyrics and the tune, singers are all from VTOB.

VTOB Lozey was also presented which highlights the journey of VTOB and collaborative effort at this time to prevent Covid-19.

A press release from VTOB stated,  “There is no greater opportunity than now, amid the Covid-19 pandemic, to honour the greatness of leadership beyond the self and earth, to His Majesty, our beloved King, for his unwavering love and support to our people.”

The day also marked the parinirvana of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel and the birth anniversary of the Third Druk Gyalpo.

VTOB coordinator, Sonam Norbu, said that the day was unique. “In schools, students celebrate Teacher’s Day, but this year VTOB teachers are celebrating the day on behalf of all the teachers in the country to pay tribute to His Majesty The King.”

Another teacher, Kinley Tenzin, said that His Majesty is an extraordinary teacher. “VTOB celebrates the day with pride and respect.”

Since the Covid-19 apprehension, the VTOB group has been preparing video lessons to engage students meaningfully. More than 400 video lessons were completed so far.

Currently, there are 4,404 VTOB teachers in the country, and around 500 are in Thimphu preparing video lessons.

Chief guest and the officiating Secretary with the Ministry of Education, Karma Tshering said that teachers must work hard to fulfill the aspirations of His Majesty The King and the society.

“Understanding the importance of teachers, the government has increased the teaching allowance. Teachers have to work towards producing nationally rooted and internationally competent youth,” said Karma Tshering.

Meanwhile, the education ministry launched the Self –Instructional Materials (SIM) on May 2.  The printed form of SIM is aligned with the video lessons which were broadcast on BBS television channels.

The activity-based SIM would benefit approximately about 17,000 students in the country who are staying at far-flung villages without access to internet, television, and e-learning facilities.

Materials are divided into five packages or volumes for classes PP to XII.

A total of 85 video lessons made into SIM were already delivered to 20 dzongkhags from April 25-28. It is a part of 238 video lessons to be converted into SIM in the package one and two.

The package one lessons began from May 2, and it will end on May 8. Package two materials are in the printing process.

Phuntsho Lhamo, an education specialist and advisor to the department of the school education said that a pilot testing of the SIM had been carried out for 66 students of Thimphu, Paro, Punakha, and Dagana.

“MoE got feedback from those students in terms of illustrations, concept, clarity of the language, and instructions being not clear. MoE would fix these issues in the second package,” said Phuntsho Lhamo.

For the convenience of classes PP to III, the ministry also launched the recorded radio lessons of the SIM.  The lessons will be aired daily on Kuzu FM from 10:30pm to 12pm and BBS radio from 2pm to 5pm.