The Kasho indicated establishment of Council 

Yangchen C Rinzin

It is almost a month after the kashos (royal edicts) were issued but both the Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC) and the Ministry of Education are not sure how to go about the establishment of the councils.

Both the ministry and the RCSC are expecting the government to take the lead and give directives on council formation.

Who will form the councils and what are their jobs?

His Majesty The King, on February 2, symbolically handed over to the people of Bhutan two kashos on the reforms decreed for the education and civil service on December 17.

The kasho on the civil service decrees that the Civil Service Reform Council be established to recommend to the government directions to fundamentally restructure the civil service to have a renewed vision for the 21st century.

The kasho on education reform decrees that a time-bound Council for Education Reform be established to prepare a visionary and workable roadmap for the 21st century.

RCSC’s chairperson, Karma Hamu Dorjee, said that, although the Commission is waiting for the government’s directives, the Commission is continuously working on its initial five areas of reforms.

“We’re working in line with the vision of Royal Kasho,” the chairperson said.

Sherig Lyonpo (education minister) Jai Bir Rai said that, while the ministry continued to work its plan and discussed how to meet the Royal vision, it was still not sure about the formation of a Council.

“We’ll have to wait for the directives on the Council formation, and there are no directives as of now,” Sherig Lyonpo said. “It’s still not sure who’ll form and what are the modalities, but we continue to receive feedback on how we can improve.”

Officials from both the ministry and the Commission say they will have to act upon how the Council would direct the reforms.

However, Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering told Kuensel that Councils were a component of the kasho, but there are no clear directives/indication to form the Council.

“Once the government receives clear directives on the formation, we’ll act accordingly,” Lyonchhen said. “However, the transformation must go on, and everyone must start working on it.”

Lyonchhen has directed all ministers, secretariats and the Commission to continue the work they have been doing in line with the Royal vision. “All reforms will be incorporated and go through multiple discussions. But for now, there’s no specific time frame to form the council and how, but it’ll be formed at the appropriate time.”

However, Lyonchhen reminded that all Bhutanese are members of the Council because the kasho was issued to the people of Bhutan. “We all are Council members, and everyone must be included to think and share their ideas towards reforms. For instance, how education should be in the country, research best practices, what can be changed and how are some ideas everyone can help with.”

Meanwhile, many observers have expressed that the government must ensure that the Council consists of members from diverse backgrounds and it was important to be transparent on the members of Council.

“It’ll depend on who’ll be the members of the Council,” an observer said. “If we’re going to have the same sets of people from the civil service, then we can’t expect anything new or reform.”

Some shared that if the Council consists of members from the present executive levels, there will be no change in the reform because these sets of bureaucrats would not accept that there was a need for change. “They believe whatever they’ve done so far was perfect. They’ve worked in the same agency for long that they’ll not have new ideas or are rigid,” an educationist said.

Many said that it was not clear what is the next step after the kasho was issued. “We hope that the kasho will not remain inside the frame hanging on the office walls,” a civil servant said. “The members could be a mix of bureaucrats and politicians.”

Many also shared that civil service should stop defending the criticisms they receive.

Some civil servants and people in the education fraternity shared that the Council should be formed from a varied group of experts who know well the service delivery and its shortcomings. “The expert group should be able to provide ways to make service delivery efficient and go for automation.”

A former educationist said that there must be representatives from technical group, finance services, administrative services, and education services, including teachers. “Currently, every reform is done by administrators and there lies the main problem.”

Many civil servants haven’t read the kashos, even today.