Of the 21 registered private schools in Bhutan, 15 private schools have agreed to enroll students who scored less that 59.4% with a set amount of Nu 30,000 for day scholars and Nu 50,000 for boarders.
However, high performing schools such as Ugyen Academy, Jamphel Higher Secondary School and Karma Academy to name a few have refused to the ceiling set by the government.
Education Minister JB Rai said that the cost disparities of these schools are based on their capital investment and the preferences of the students. “The private schools have their own calculations and reasons not to accept the proposal,” said Lyonpo.
The education minister said that among 2,060 seats reserved for boarding students, 1,690 are for day scholars and the rest (475 students) can go to their choice of school. “If students are willing to study in the six private schools which did not agree with the government’s ceiling, a top up amount can be added over the amount by the government as well.”
He added that Dzongkhag Education Officers and Principals are responsible for identifying students who are in need of boarding facilities.
The Prime Minister added that a lot of fuss has been created ignoring the bigger picture and that what the government did is the biggest facelift in the education system. “It is a policy shift to improve quality education from summative to formative culture,” said Lyonchhen.
The Prime Minister added that the cutoff point does not define quality of education because if that is the case the cutoff point for class X students should be increasing yearly and fluctuation in cutoff percentage shows the availability of seats in government school. “If the government is not able to provide seats to students till class XII, these students will be given full scholarship in private schools as well.”
Additionally, Lyonchhen said that he has made it clear to all private schools that after two to three years, the government will be able to enroll all class XI graduates and therefore this is the right platform for the schools to change their way of doing business. “Private schools have to revitalize improving the standard and quality of education so that those who can afford will prefer private schools.”
He added that only a few private schools are considered better and equal to government schools with regard to academic achievement hence private schools have the opportunity to upgrade to private colleges. “In this way, the number of students studying outside Bhutan can be reduced drastically and we can invite students from other countries to study.”
According to Lyonchhen, plans of various diploma courses, TVET programs and scholarships to ex-countries will be there for Class XII graduates. “The government is investing, not spending,” said Lyonchhen.
Meanwhile the Foreign Affairs Minister, Dr Tandi Dorji, said that the government is tackling the unemployment crisis since students will get ample opportunities ahead after class XII. “This is the right time to shift from archaic practices to world class ones,” said Lyonpo.
Phub Dem from Thimphu