The National Council of Bhutan deliberated at length on the Bhutanese education during its 17th Session in 2016. The deliberation lead to the formation of a Special Committee for Education to carry out a review study to better understand the situation of education in Bhutan. The Special Committee, comprising of six members [Honourable NC members], came out with a report titled “A review report on the quality of education” in November 2016. The reported teased out four strategic areas: Teacher Performance; Relevant Curricula; Student Learning Outcomes; and Resource Allocation for the purpose of study. However, I’m not sure if I came across anything that thoroughly discussed on the quality of education in Bhutan as the title of the report suggest and I thought this was unfortunate.
I believe that such a technical study should have been best left to the academicians and researchers. By saying this, I ‘m not undermining the research abilities of our Honourable members of parliament, but just making a reference that there are many factors that affect such “social” research which, needs to be considered. One of the important “influence” would be Honourable Members’ “position” and “title”, leading to “constructed” answers from the respondents. The report also states that the Special Committee members visited Druk Padma Karpo School in Ladakh, Deyana Anglo Vedic public School in Shimla, and Vasant Valley and Sanskriti Schools in Delhi. However, the report doesn’t make any justification on why these schools were visited nor the report has any substantial findings from the visits. I thought, reflecting the basis on why these schools were visited would have made more sense.
It appears that Bhutan is moving through the debate of education quality and it has become trendy to talk about it these days. A recent editorial in Kuensel [link below] makes this bold statement: “The real challenge facing us today is the declining quality of education in the country”. I’m referring to this statement as “bold” since kuensel makes the declaration of declining “quality” of education in Bhutan. How on earth can we make such a statement when we don’t even have any empirical evidence to suggest the trend? [Or do we have it? should we have it, I regret my ignorance] Forget the data on much-debated education “quality” in Bhutan, we don’t even have the definition of “quality” with reference to our education system. It appears that we are expecting too much from our youths that we are starting to compare their “quality” of intellectual performance [including writing notesheets; drafting letters; computer literacy; filling in travel authorization and bills; making an adjustment in muster-rolls etc.] to ours which was built through many years of experience. Let’s first get our basics right and start defining what “quality” of education mean in our context and how should it be measured so that we have a basis to compare in the future.
“Quality” of education is much more than grades; much more than the rank of schools. One aspect of “quality” of education could be a conceptually driven classroom rather than textbook driven. “Quality” could be achieved when our students cease to complain “out of syllabus” questions for “conceptual” questions. “Quality” could be a critical ability of our student to think and solve problems. Etc….
Paldhen Drukpa Gyel-Lo