The programme and its reform work have been handed back to MoLHR

Yangchen C Rinzin   

The Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) programme is back with the labour and human resources ministry.

Layog lyonpo (labour minister) Ugyen Dorji confirmed that the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) had handed back the TVET programme and told Kuensel that the labour ministry would implement the TVET reform.

However, Lyonpo did not explain why the TVET reform was handed back to the ministry. “The TVET programme is back to ministry almost after two years,” Lyonpo said.

Until recently, the programme was looked after by the interim TVET reform office with the PMO.

The government in 2019 initiated TVET reforms, and the PMO took over the TVET programme from the ministry.  As a major leap in reforming TVET, a transition team was officially formed in March last year in the lead up to form an autonomous agency.

The team was led by a new chief executive officer for the TVET reform initiative, Kinga Tshering, the former parliamentarian from North Thimphu.

One of the suggestions was to rename the future autonomous TVET as Bhutan Innovation and Technical Education.

The team was supposed to report to the PMO during the transition until it became an independent organisation.

The team consisted of four full-time workers, a CEO assisted by about 10 officials from the labour ministry whenever required.

An autonomous TVET agency also meant to delink the department of TVET from the labour ministry once the service conditions, legal framework and Standard Operating Procedures were ready.

However, the PMO’s decision to hand over the TVET reform back to the ministry also means that agency autonomy may take time and the department may not be delinked as of now.

As for the interim office, which was named National TVET Council, it was not clear whether the office would be dissolved.

Layog lyonpo said that there were no directives on the interim office.

However, Kuensel learned that the TVET reform programme was handed over to the ministry informally, and officials were verbally instructed to carry forward the TVET reform and continue work in the same structure as before.

A MoLHR official said that the interim office team had already submitted about four reports that the team has worked towards TVET reform: an innovation hub concept, TVET governance, education pathway, and a foreign bank support concept paper for TVET.

“Ministry has been asked to  refer the reports. We were informed verbally that it was being handed over because of the pandemic that has affected the plan and huge resources involved, so the autonomy might take time,” the official said.

The initial goal was to take in about 4,000 students after the first Gyalsuung cohorts complete by 2023.  The interim office was already working on the strategic transformation.

The team had already carried out reform strategies like curriculum frameworks, transformation action plans and international collaborations.