Bhutan’s story of 100 years of feat in education is truly remarkable. Bhutan’s attempt to be the knowledge hub and create a knowledge society is still a work in progress. At the turn of the century, to assess Bhutan’s strides in education is humbling and, yet, bewildering.
So where are we exactly?
The most recent stride in education is the launch of Bhutan Education City proposal for an upcoming international education hub in the country. Literature on Education City in many of the countries reveals stories of struggle and challenge. So have we taken a step too soon?
Delinking the medical institutes in 2011 to be tied as constituent colleges of University of Medical Sciences (UMS) is a notable change in the educational scenario. Is the university system of UMS in place to handle its constituents, or should they still be with the Royal University of Bhutan (RUB) to receive its second treatment until UMS comes in full force?
RUB as Bhutan’s only university produces graduates every year to form the formidable group of youth to take their positions in the different sectors, besides graduates from outside the country. To have a huge number of graduates with RUB’s co called double degree program as qualification, will it serve to fulfill the needs of the organizations and sectors who call for specialists?
School education in Bhutan has seen a massive change with two distinct types of schooling parents. It matters what family you are born into to go to any one of these schools. Private schools have made their mark in the urban areas and rightly so. Rural education system on the other hand is like a transport back in time with dearth of teachers and the type of schooling as old as time itself, with even syringe wielding teachers to train the minds of the future.
The education ministry’s attempts to resolve issues and tries to tune in to the social realities and is one of the highest spenders in re-creating its system to make it more dynamic. Education has to be made socially relevant and child-centric to serve its purpose, but has school curriculum even been put through that perspective?
In a healthy learning process where learners are participative, the approach to teaching is discussion than mere imparting of facts. Have the new textbooks served its function then? Were the old textbooks not as lively and as informative as the new ones? Have we given ourselves up to more pictures and less words in the age of new media?
Finally, our examination system is crafted to determine ‘pass’ and ‘fail’ tag on our students and can we then rest the blame on the incompetence of teachers? Our education scenario in Bhutan is at a crossroad, but who is taking note.