All of us would have heard about this term GDP (the Gross Domestic Product) of countries — especially during the COVID-19 times, when it is quite obvious that our focus turns into the Economy of countries which are badly affected.
Have you heard of GNH (Gross National Happiness)?
Welcome to Bhutan, the country in which the Government is guided by the metrics of Gross National Happiness!
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Bhutan as a country is known for its breathtaking views of nature and dedicated followers and practitioners of Buddhism. Interestingly, the country has never been invaded and colonised as the history reads and it’s the only carbon-negative country in the world, mastering the sustainability aspects.
Bhutan’s Education System
Let’s take a deeper look into the education system of Bhutan and analyse the various aspects that impact the learners and the teachers of the country.
The formal education in Bhutan is offered through a model of 7 years of primary education cycle followed by 6 years of secondary education leading to tertiary education.
The students undergo board examinations in Grade VIII, Grade X and Grade XII. It is interesting to note that the option to study their relevant fields of interest is open to the students once they pass the Grade VIII, but more specialised fields open up only after Grade X and Grade XII.
By 2017, the overall literacy rate is 60.83% — at the different age groups, the rate differs. In the younger generation of the students, the literacy rate is 93.09% (93.27% Male & 92.89% Female), which is quite amazing! This number has increased 13% over the span of 12 years. (Source: UNESCO)
The official local language of Bhutan in ‘Dzongkha’ — it is taught in all the schools. In the year, 1979 the department of education declared that it is,
“The responsibility of each and every Bhutanese to learn Dzongkha”
and subsequently they published a Dzongkha dictionary in 1986.
English is the medium of instruction in the schools.
The adoption of English as the medium of instruction has not led to a neglect of their national language. It is taught as an important subject in schools and we could see teachers who specialize in it and students who do well in the subject. Reference: Improving the quality of schooling. Some observations from Bhutan.
The curriculum of education is prepared by the Royal Education Council under the Ministry of Education. It is interesting to see that their official website is well updated and contains all the necessary e-resources including textbooks for the students and teachers.
With a total 80 positive cases (until 6 July 2020) among a population of 7.54 Lakh in the country, Bhutan is fighting well against the pandemic. In the education front, they have designed a Prioritised Curriculum (PC) for the students.
According to the update on the website,
The Prioritized Curriculum (PC) is a distilled curriculum that emphasizes on the primary, most fundamental and essential learning contents and concepts that are aligned to the most carefully selected learning outcomes and objectives in each learning area for each class level. It encompasses procedural knowledge, skills, values, strategies, and processes. The PC comprises 65% of the actual curriculum content which has been developed based on the remaining instructional time left for the academic year 2020. Know more.
In 2018, the Government of Bhutan allocated a budget of around 6.64% of GDP and 22.77% of total government expenditure on education. The numbers have increased over 50% in the past 8 years. Source: UNESCO
By 2019, the unemployment rate of Bhutan is 2.19%. During the 2009 recession period, the numbers were 3.96%. The numbers have gradually reduced over the past 10 years. Source: Statista
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I will conclude the article by stating a specific thing that stood out to me in the response statement to COVID-19, by the Minister of Education, Bhutan.
“As we prepare to brace ourselves to the noble endeavour of education, we must remember a few things with reverence and prayers, for education is not only what you learn within the school walls but a major portion of education is learning from your environment which includes examples of leadership, sacrifice, honor and hard work of so many people, some of you would not even have thought about.
That’s why it is being said, “it takes a village to raise a child.”
This sums up the efforts of the government to bring reforms in education to impact all the students of Bhutan even during a challenging situation like the COVID pandemic. It is to be noted that the country is filled with mountains and remote villages which are inaccessible.