Education is in the limelight yet again. Not for any encouraging reason, however.
Schools in Thimphu are bursting at the seams. Some schools in the capital are forced to convert laboratories into classrooms because of excessive admission pressure. At the same time, schools in rural pockets of the country are experiencing drastic enrolment drop.
This is an interesting development that has been happening for a while now. It is also a development that is disturbing. Media tried their best to highlight the problem and to launch a serious national debate.
If reiteration is necessary, here it is: why are schools in Thimphu facing increasing admission pressure year after year when opposite is happening in schools in the rural parts of the country?
One 50-year-old school in Thimphu is facing such admission pressure that it is forced to find an alternative to cope. The school is using officers’ old mess of the Royal Bhutan Army as classrooms for 12 sections of the school.
Decentralisation is an idea that has done us much good. We are where we are today because we dared to launch an idea into practical use. Effective service systems have reached the lowest level of our communities.
Alas, with education and schools, we did not meet with the same success. Where did we fail, and how?
With all the goodness of decentralisation policy, we still seem to be pursueing a development path that is sadly very centralised. It’s a national myopia that gives rise to all the problems of shortages and repercussions myriad.
Why, for example, can we not have some of our ministries spread out in different dzongkhags? That happening will actually help create employment and economic opportunities outside Thimphu, which in turn will ease admission pressure in the schools in the capital.
Why must every important office be in Thimphu? That is the question.
Big questions come from small problems. Small problems become way too big if we fail to address them at the right time.
Good governance is about empowering the citizens with productive environment to learn so that the process of building our nation prospers to benefit all, not just a few for all their greed and vanity.
The success of education lies in our ability to give our heart and soul for its development. One ragged section of students under a collapsing shanty will cost us dear.
Time will come, and very soon it will, if we give no heed to the changing tides. Why are things the way they are? Why are some of our schools seeing drop in enrolment when others are facing growth beyond their capacity?
Future generations will hold us responsible for what space we gave them to grow.