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Bhutan Observer
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What can the new government do for education?
Administrator, August 16, 2013
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Over the last decade, quality of education has been the reigning issue for the Ministry of Education. Decline in the quality of education, perceived or real, is a great cause for concern not just for the education ministry but all the other organisations because no organisation would want to take in mediocre performers as employees. The quality of education has become the talk of the town because it’s education’s quality that denotes the progress of the people.

Interestingly, many insiders have defended through the media that the quality of education hasn’t gone down with reasons that are unconvincing. But deep down, they themselves know that they are refuting what others are saying simply because it is their job to defend anything said against the ministry. If everyone agrees that the quality has gone down, their defensive approach citing the studies done on one or two selected schools is but a futile attempt to put the matter to rest. Sometimes, common sense serves better than research done with set objectives.

The ministry of education under the DPT government had done a commendable job to try to improve the quality of education. To ease the problem of teacher shortage, contract teachers were employed, community teachers were recruited, and GNH education was introduced in schools throughout the country. But all these did not help the stressful work ambience which many teachers, if not all, think as one of the main causes of quality decline.

We must admit that improving the quality of education is not an easy task. It will take time and constant effort from all the players. Straightening the systemic flaws will consume a lot of time and energy. The DPT government did all it could within the stipulated term of five years. We have our honest appreciation for that.

But what the PDP government has in store for the education ministry, we do not know yet. Will it build upon the foundation laid by the preceding government or will it bring an entirely new set of ideas which could take another five years to be ready for implementation. As far as possible, continuity is preferred. And the ministry’s idea of Educating for GNH should continue whichever government comes to power. What will the new government do to lift the teacher morale, which the former education minister tried so hard to achieve within his term of office? Will the new minister pick up the thread? Will the GNH education in which many schools have produced laudable results in making learner-friendly environment continue or will we import scores of new ideas knowing fully well that such things haven’t worked before?

There are a few things that the new education minister should work hard on. We need to lift the morale of the teachers. Teaching allowance, which is expected to boost teacher morale, hasn’t really helped. What can we do? After all, teacher morale is such a crucial thing. We can’t afford to ignore it anymore. And what about encouraging the best and the brightest to join the teaching profession? As we know, teaching is among the last on the job preference list of our graduates. If the noble profession is least preferred, there must surely be something amiss.

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