Friday, March 01, 2013

Deteriorating the quality of education in Bhutan

Today, Bhutan’s the Quality of Education became the talk of the market. People constantly debate and discuss about it in online forums, in hotels and bars, in homes and offices, informally and formally, over the country. It became national concern and scholars and educationists are working on it. Some says quality has deteriorated and on the other hand some debate no. To comment on this topic there has to be a valid data and statistics. Therefore, in this essay I have mentioned few points to prove that the “Quality of Education is deteriorating”.

Most of the teachers in Bhutan are teacher not in love with their professions. They come to teaching when they fail to get selected for any other professions. It is the destiny that brought them, they believe. Trainees (here in PCE, Paro) would be teachers very soon but if we ask if she/he love the teaching profession, one will say---‘NO, I don’t want to but I have no option as I didn’t qualify for other profession or higher Education’. I too am same. Teaching wasn’t my choice, but as of now I love to be a teacher. And I will try my best to improve the quality education.

This is happening because teachers are underappreciated and receives very little respect, despite working hard under poor conditions. Does anyone love working so hard when it is not appreciated and valued? I am damn sure, nobody like it rather it undermines the faith and commitment. Education secretary, Aum  Sangay Zam, has told in one of the article in Kuensel that to retain teachers they don’t give no objection certificates (NOC) especially to Mathematics and Science teachers to apply elsewhere, because there’s already a shortage of these teachers though there are teachers who want to leave the job. What does it mean? Forcing a person to be a teacher when he/she is not willing to work?  How can one possibly let the horse to drink the water when it is not at all thirsty? If he/she doesn’t have interest in teaching, how can we say that he/she will teach well? We have to think more to improve the quality of education. Our education quality will not improve when those de-motivated and uncommitted teachers are involved in the system.

Yesterday I was in front of the laptop and mind mapping to starts with my essay, many points didn’t strike my mind so just to refresh I logged on to face book where I have chatted with one of my friend who is currently studying in India, “what is the difference between the Bhutanese student and Indian students?” I asked him and the immediate answer he gave me was, “When I come here and sit with Indian friends I feel like I haven’t learnt anything.” So, I realized that Bhutanese children receive free Education unlike India. This system has actually overwhelmed the perception of the Bhutanese students to learn because they don’t feel the pinch to get Educated. People without experiencing the pain don’t understand the value of Education and they don’t study at all despite attending the classes.  When students sit in the class just for attendance and warming the bench, we can never expect the quality of education to improve, rather it would deteriorate spontaneously. Thus, it brings down the Quality of Education.

School functioning without conducive environment is another reason why quality of education is declining. For example, school like Gangzor Primary school in my village has no proper facilities. No class room for class III students. So, parents were called and they constructed bamboo temporary hut, with the plastics roof. During summer no rains drained out. The classes were overcrowded with no space for the teachers to move through for active interactions. That lack of space did not allow teachers to use their active and innovative teaching methods. How can we study in a place like that? Where is the environment for the learners?

Another factor solely responsible for the decline in quality of education is the students’ attitudes.  They come to class without any interest in learning.  Thus, it declines the quality of the Education. If we compare between the present youth and the learners of the past decades we will see that the students at present are not very interested in school educations. As compare to my father who studied up to class eight, I am still far behind in English to him. Today, especially the children don’t like learning Dzongkha. Today Graduates are doing three months course before they seats for PE, because they are not able to write application in Dzongkha. If we go around and ask our trainee teachers to write the application in Dzongkha, I think maximum will fail including me.
Every coin has two sides and let’s not forgets this universal truth. Though Technologies has helped people in many ways but it too has disadvantages. A modern technology like mobile phone is useful for communication but writing SMS hampers youth’s grammatical structures and spellings.
Another reason is due to internet. These days students spend most of their time in internet rather than either playing or reading books. It said that physical activity such as playing outside also helps in improving the minds of a person. But rather than doing that, they play online games which only disturbs their mind and consumes most of their time. Also online chatting makes their written as well as spoken language decline tremendously which ultimately affects their education. Using calculator has done more harm than the help. Students who use calculators from his early school days don’t know the product of 9 and 8 because they depend too much on calculator.

The quality of education is declining because there are good numbers of untrained teachers employed in the various private schools of Bhutan. Similarly, in the Government Schools also, we have contract teachers, teaching without having any proper teaching practices.  Class XII pass outs are teaching the students, how  will they teach well when we (trained for three years) couldn’t do the presentation well, how will they apply the different teaching strategies for different learners and teaching skills for different topics? These are serious threat to the quality of educations. When those trained and experienced teachers face difficulties in managing classroom and keeping students engaged to learn, imagine those untrained teachers. How do we expect not to decline the quality of educations when the students are taught and brought up by the untrained teachers?
Quality of Education will keep on declining if no measure is taken care by the Department. Education Ministry introduced the “Double Promotion System” for the students; not based on the academic merit, but be given to students, who are late beginners, i.e., starting school at the age of eight, nine or 10. As I have seen in Ganzor Primary shool where double promoted students of class six doesn’t know how to frame a simple proper sentence. New system was to fast-track older students, who meet the minimum academic requirement for higher classes, so that they can cope with the higher levels according to their age. But where is the quality that they are taking care of? Though they are doing this to reduce the number of drop-outs and also to help everybody receive basic education but they are neglecting the fact that it will deteriorate the Quality of Education in future adding taste to the already deteriorated quality.

To conclude, unappreciated teacher,  free education, under-prepared teachers, lack of appropriate curricular resources, poor learning environment and little in-service training for teachers were the main reason why classroom practices were ineffective, which finally leads to decline in the quality of education. As many schools in Bhutan lack essential infrastructure and curricular reform is quiet by a lack of sufficient orientation and resource support to deliver the curriculum. And teachers, the agents of providing quality education, work in poor conditions and have low motivation.

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