Friday, 6 May 2016

A Promised Revolution

Education in Bhutan has witnessed a steady growth and amelioration over the years. Time has revolutionized our age-old monastic education into the current modern education. The ramshackle school buildings of the past has been transformed into elegant structures of the present while the slates and chalks we used for writing have become obsolete with the ingress of assorted materials of books, pens and pencils in the writing market. Many have changed, yet many remains to be changed.

With the voluntary resignation of Lyonpo Mingbu Drukpa as the Education Minister, a new promising protagonist has emerged on the scene adorned with all his embellished promises and propaganda. The new Education Minister, Lyonpo Norbu Wangchuk, has taken a bold leap into the oceanic world of education in Bhutan. He can unquestionably be called the ‘Moses’ of Bhutanese Education System who has pledged to offer us the ‘Promised Land’ and a decent future.

The Education Minister, during his visit to Lungtenphu Lower Secondary School under Thimphu Thromde on 21st April 2016, elucidated on his unwavering dedication to revolutionize the education system in the country. The back-breaking workload of teachers, the ageing curriculum and School as an Institution was immaculately described as the tripod for the escalation of education in Bhutan. The ‘three critical pillars of education’ as expounded by the Education Minister is a manifestation of his impeccable comprehension of the education system in Bhutan. The success of education in Bhutan, indeed, rests on this tripod.

Elucidating on the first pillar, School as an Institution, Lyonpo Norbu Wangchuk stated that schools must be ‘made conducive for learning with a proper environment’ in respect to physical, social and emotional greenery. Most of the ‘forgotten schools’ of our country has survived through the ages with poor physical facilities. The intimidating roofs of schools which threatened to fall any moment, the large unattended gaps between the planks, the dripping teardrops from the water taps and the bountiful inhabitants of pitifully small classroom are some, amongst many, which has become an inseparable picturesque of Bhutanese schools. An amelioration of these standards would undoubtedly augment the quality of education in Bhutan.

The second pillar, teachers, or ‘foot soldiers’ (as he put it), play a pivotal role in the success or failure of any education system. The quality and the level of motivation of these ‘critical players’ weaves itself very intricately into any educational web. Apart from the teaching prerogatives, a teacher is expected to carry out multiple other academic and co-curricular responsibilities. Babysitting, negotiating, counseling, barbering, doctoring are but few expected roles besides the normal responsibilities of delivering lessons and correcting their works. The laudable initiatives of other agencies and departments find seepage into the mainstream adding on to the already inexhaustible list of responsibilities. Arming these ‘foot soldiers’ with weapons congruent to the challenges of a modern education system will indubitably bring unconditional proliferation in the quality of education.

The third pillar, curriculum, is a topic of deliberation for both the wise as well as amateur minds like my own. Foreign curriculums have penetrated into the Bhutanese education system. These glamorous systems with all its promises of superfluous results have dominated the gullible mindsets of the Bhutanese educationist. All attempts have been made to modernize the education system, only leading it to further westernization. No foreign system can work miracles on the Bhutanese soil; for we are we and they are they. One must not expect to grow sub-tropical fruits in the Himalayas. It’s time we teach our children what they ought to know, rather than stuffing them with all the primordial facts. We must focus on preparing our children for the future by providing them with a vivacious curriculum at present.

These matters, explicated in a pellucid manner, have brought unconditional hope and motivation to the teacher audience. Most could envisage the prospect of an enhanced future. Many a frayed hearts were sutured, many more were convalesced.

The thunder has cracked; let’s wait to see the lightning.