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Sunday, June 23, 2013

Quality of Education in Bhutan

[This article was born on 17th April 2008. Soon after its birth, I made an attempt to find a space in an issue of RABSEL, the CERD education Journal but to no avail. “We cannot compromise the Quality of Education by one person”, responded the person in charge to me.
This paper has in no way attempted to stab and ambush the growth of education in Bhutan. It is purely my personal opinions. There’s no impure dirt in it]      

Quality of Education in Bhutan

Mr. Lungten Wangdi currently enrolled for Ph D in Lovely Professional University and myself during convocation
This is an edifying quantifiable literary account that I felt worth sharing, experiencing incredible pedagogical repercussions after multi-grade teaching (MGT) has crop up my first year teaching.
While this narration does not contact any paradigms of educational research, it is not a case study nor a survey either. It attends on its own approach and thus befalls without intersections, to be personal fora of reminiscences.
This conviction ferments and dawdles in me, like the most celebrated educationist Nietzsche asserted: “The value of things sometimes lies not in what one attains with it but in what one pays for it-what it costs us”.
Currently, I am a teacher and I do not accredit teaching as a cost factor. I refer to MGT which contorted me assigning a new vista in teaching. I screamed of getting deployed in a community primary school, further. The mere fact that I be subjected to a training of a formal classroom teacher underrated incredibly, when forcibly metamorphosed to a MGT teacher instantly after the graduation. I was lucky that I had attended at least Bhutanese Education System (BES) module on organizing the MGT classes at Samtse college of Education. Now, I do not claim as an expertise but with literary integrity, I dispute to be embraced of theoretical organization and least, I am not a stranger to it.
Apart from it, gobbled up with anxiety, there was a drop in the capillary of my enthusiasm. Just a dogmatic conviction: Letting ‘a square peg fit on a round hole’, it pronounced in me. Because, in the course of three years intensive Bachelors Degree in Education, with its honorary nomenclature in streams, it was privilege for me to have categorized in B.Ed Secondary with Physics and Health and Physical Education as my major electives. It was otherwise a ban (or a boon as some may argue) for secondary B.Eds to have mere oscillations with its secondary courses only, without brushing over primary curriculum, that pertains solely in management of pre-primary classes,. After all, when secondary B.Eds are placed to a community schools, “right person to a right place” sounds cliché like.
The physics teacher to the current statistics is meager in number and therefore, shortage in secondary schools, only recruiting from abroad. Because, Bhutanese trained teachers are positioned only in peripheral learning centers, its growth today manifest to be in facile. This superstitious myth was religiously uncovered when the storm of the deployment broke the twigs of my stand against a physics teacher. In addition, when I have to load multi-learning areas (which I have not specialized in) in the school, it spoke of my proficiency and educational implications in low calibration.
One moment, I read RABSEL, my unrivalled education journal, produced by the Centre for Educational Research and Development (CERD), dusted in the school library, where Dhal (2007) labeled:
To meet the demands of the community and primary schools, the government has spent huge amounts in training the Bhutanese teachers for multi-grade teaching. Many of these teachers were trained in foreign countries. They have the capabilities to do the job they’re trained for. Are these trained teachers placed in schools where their multi-grade teaching skills are required? Many of these teachers were immediately posted somewhere, some as heads and others as administrative officers, where their specific teaching is not directly involved. The schools where there are serious needs are at the mercy of the fresh graduates from the training institutions who we feel have lots of potential to meet the demands of the school, but eh reality may not be as expected. He/she may not have the experience to meet such expectations when alone in the field. (RABSEL, Vol. X Spring 2007:88-9)
Assessing the authenticity of this writing, besides armed with my own rationales to write, it constituted to be palatable domain of my pamphlet  which I believe will be of some use to others. This piece of a personal narrative would have been to many dear teachers a melody of a pandemic humdrum, while the intact lyrics is projected to message the immediate present and distant future teacher trainees to readily tune with it.
Where complacency envisage, the fibers of challenges is never easier to string, in a way we crave for. Thus, the purpose is never mystical and to the stakeholders concerned, it’s a hymn, that the insights may help us to see things that we do not normally pay attention to, yet that matter to us.
Of late, “Quality of Education” has been the biggest concern in Bhutan. Few have confuted that the quality has declined, which in reality is not sustained by any obstinate substantial research, while, others have picked the track to yowl in the same tune. Not many seems to remain watchful and alert, when relating the term “Quality” in education, but when questioned, they are explored less defensible. To their cheapest response, they censor teachers for not doing well and thus, demoralize for their best efforts.
But I am not skeptical to argue that teachers should remain as the core reason of this concern, as many disputed. In fact, they are the real artist who paint and manufacture thousands of future nation builders. They are the perfect economist, who studies the value of one child, keeping vigilant the cost of nation’s future. Kohl, Herbert, (1986) asserts, ‘a teacher has to become a construction expert, someone who know how to draw together skills and resources to create a harmonious functioning whole, or who know how to renovate a structure that is dysfunctional or damaged’.
Further, an Indian educationist, Safaya (1995), compares that ‘the child is like clay in the hands of teacher. It is his teaching skills, his personal influence, his character, his dynamism and his life force that turns them to be truly human, contributing their best to the humanity. Books may teach a child, but a teacher educates them’.
There should be a sturdy justice that can vividly address that, teachers be liable as a cause in decline of the quality of education. Otherwise, interference is detrimental, gnawing away the teachers’ enthusiasm and hard work.
Purpose of Education in Bhutan
Aware of the value of education as integral to the success of development and to unlock the potential of its people, the Royal Government of Bhutan has always attached a high priority and deep commitment to expanding equitable access to schools, improving quality and strengthening the efficient use of educational resources in pursuit of the goal of education for all. (Millennium Development Goals: Progress Report 2002, 2003:16). A productive discussion of the purpose of education must acknowledge that schools are established to serve both individuals and the larger society. As such education must meet the needs of (a changing) society and educate children in all their diversity for the responsibilities of adulthood in a democratic society (NIE Paro and Samtse, 2005: 7).
Further, the ‘education can and should influence the kind of society we want to develop. Qualities such as morals, values, knowledge of rights, citizenship, tolerance, respect and even happiness have been identified as important objectives of education (p.7). Dorji (2005:130) sees that ‘the purpose of education is to help children be knowledgeable, productive and loyal, duty bound, confident, contented and happy’. ‘Education must be guided by a holistic concept based upon the total development of the child and the need that the innate potential of each and every child is fully realized (Bhutan 2020:53).
Realizing that, ‘basic education is an indispensable passport to life that will enable people to choose what they do, to share in building the collective future and continue to learn (Delors, 1998:118) as cited by Thinley (1999:4), the Royal Government has established the foundation of education based on western modern schooling. ‘It is certain that the western model of school made its beginning with the first school in Ha as early as 1914 (Dorji, 2005:10) under the leadership of Sir Ugyen Wangchuk, the first hereditary monarch of Bhutan. ‘Education in Bhutan had traditionally emphasized knowing and particularly on acquiring of itemized or codified information, organized around the traditional subject areas (Thinley, 1999:1). Another fundamental purpose was to familiarize people with basic skills in literacy and numeracy.
Later, the establishment of learning centers was largely felt and innumerable learning sprung in the nook and corner of the country. Today, ‘the steady and increased growth of enrollment has also been largely the result of growing awareness of the value of education of schools. This is including the widespread and introduction of community schools across the country that has reduced walking distances to schools considerably (Bhutan Millennium Goals Report 2002, 2003:17).
Subsequently, a drastic rise in the number of schools in the country made the government to realize and ‘ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girl alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary education (p.15). Quite fortunately, then and till now, ‘from the age of six, every Bhutanese child has a right to eleven years of free ‘basic education’. This consists of one year of pre-primary school, six years of primary school and four years of secondary school, which will take the child up to class X (Black and Stalker, 2006:43). National targets indicate that attaining universal primary education may be achieved as early as 2000 (Bhutan Millennium Goals Report 2002, 2003:15). The gross primary enrollment is 102.1 percentage and the net primary school enrolment is 79.4 percentage (boys-80 percent and 79 percent girls), (Black and Stalker, 2006:44). ‘The gross primary enrollment rate has grown from 55 percent in 1991 to 72 in 2000 with enrollment growing at between 6-7 percent annually (Bhutan Millennium Goals Report 2002, 2003:15).  
During the subsequent decades and especially during the 1980s, the government increased the number of schools offering education; by 2006 there were 349. It also did so in an innovative and flexible fashion-so as to arrive at the most appropriate solution for reaching very scattered communities (Black and Stalker, 2006).  At this moment, a speech delivered in an address at 7th SAARC summit, Dhaka on April 10-11th, 1993 by our fourth king Jigme Singye Wangchuk is worth noting:
‘Were it not for the large scale destruction of the schools, health centers and other social infrastructure by the terrorists in our southern districts Bhutan would have been in a position to achieve universal primary education …long before the year 2000 (Bhutan Times Ltd, 2007:138)’.
Right now, Bhutan, as a member of the UNICEF, has realized a full advantage as their plan advocated the far-sighted vision of our fourth king. ‘One of the primary, UNICEF’s Medium-strategic plan for 2002-05 in line with the child convention, spells out that a long-term goal of the UNICEF is that “all children have access to and complete an education of good quality (UNICEF, 2003:1).
Relating Quality in Education
While not many seems to remain alert, cautious and watchful of the terminologies defined, there has been huge hue and cry over the perceived decline in the quality of education in the country. Dakpa (2006:63) in his survey report states that, ‘it is in fact, difficult for anyone to make generalizations on standards or quality, especially with regard to education without first having the term ‘standard’ or ‘quality’ adequately defined and qualified (RABSEL, Vol. IX). Without the lucid comprehension and substantial knowledge of its application he fears that, ‘perhaps without a least suspicion that quality of education can be argued only within the limits of definitions and validation of the terms used in the argument (p.63). As well, Beeby (1966:10) found it crucial to argue that, ‘nor, for that matter, were planners all agreed on what constitutes quality in education, and they certainly had no universally accepted method of measuring it’.
With the firm adherence to the genuine research, educationists consequently concluded that there lie no fixed standards and indicators to evaluate quality. It is therefore, considered unwise to apply quality to education without proper apology. In this essence, he explicitly warns that, ‘….an attempt to arrive at the definition of “quality” in education would probably do more harm than good. For that matter, one of its underlying themes is that the concept of good education varies, for all practical purposes, with the stage of development of the system and of the teachers who serve it (p.10). Karmel et al (1985) regards quality as ‘a complex phenomenon and its definition is multi dimensional (in Dorji, 2005:180).
There is no simple ingredients that can be prescribed to enhance quality under all situations and in any country. Quality is therefore a relative term and depends upon the situation and time in which the education system occurs (Dorji, 2005:180). It’s obvious that quality of education connotes different things even amongst educators (Lhazom & Chhoeda, 2003:1-2). Yet, there is a total mistaken certainty in Bhutanese understanding of both ‘quality’ and ‘education’. On a large scale, the meaning is misconstrued and debated in vainglory without grounding to its profound etymology and usage. The interpretation has been a variable that withered in itself the application without the discrepancy of its native significance. At its disposal, there is a huge degree if variation and the degree make the difference.
In a similar essence, ‘education’ is conceived in both terms of process and product largely varies in its substance. Education, in its cheapest Bhutanese connotation necessarily explains a systematic and formal institutional setting designed to regulate a change in behavior and report academic grading. While, this would, in a pinch, spell the narrow concept of its relevance, in a profound justice, the meaning would be academically equivalent. Thus, it resides as a situational commodity witnessed with the different understandings and are employed for varied purposes.  
Peters, R.S (1981) agrees that, ‘nevertheless, there are usages of the term ‘education’ which it would be difficult to encompass in any piece of definition’. Therefore, the basic interpretation could be the acceptance of its profundity and tangibility. It is in a way, simply abstract and a dynamic entity. But he cautions that ‘this doesn’t mean, however, that there are no criteria of ‘education’ which are co-extensive with most of its central usages. It only means that terms in a natural language develop a life of their own and send out shoots which take them far away from the central trunk of the concept’.
As a result, there is still a room to debate on quality of education. However, Beeby (1966) proposes that quality of education may be thought of at different levels, which is worth sharing.
 At the simplest level is the ‘Classroom Conception of quality’. In the classroom understanding of quality, it is ‘quality seen by an inspector of schools’ (p.10). Today, inspector is replaced with supervisors, as it is ‘intended to convey an impression of professional leadership rather than authority (p.10). He emphasizes that, classroom conception…obviously embraces such measurable skills as ability in the 3Rs, and the acquisition of a given range of facts about history, geography, hygiene and the like. Less measurable but equally acceptable are habits of industry, tidiness and accuracy and attitudes for authority and love for country (p.10-11).
At such circumstances, particularly for the classroom conception of quality, ‘one index of a schools success in achieving some of this humble but necessary ends it the speed at which pupils pass through the grades and the number who achieve the final certificates, particularly if this is warded as the result of an external test(p.11).
The second phases to understand quality takes outside the classroom. In the Market Place, ‘the quality of education is measured by its productivity (p.11). He explicitly perceives the fallacy of judgment on quality between an economist, a presiding judge in the market and the school masters. Thus, he remains firm that economist…may show an interest in the relation between the ‘input’ and the ‘output’ of the school system as a measure of its immediate productivity and efficiency, but he contuse to hanker for a criterion more directly related to the economy (p.12). They are mostly questions of quantity, and because of his training and detachment, he feels no discomfort in discussing them in purely quantitative terms (p.19). For the educator, ‘experience has taught him that quality is of the very essence of most educational problems, and he will become increasingly unhappy in the new partnership unless questions of quality play a bigger part in discussions of educational planning..(p.19). Fortunately, there are signs that both sides are becoming aware that it is neither theoretically nor practically possible to separate quality and quantity in attacking the educational problems of emergent countries (p19) 
 Beeby’s third phase of judging quality is ‘Broader Social Criteria’, which incorporates sets of values with the inevitable clashes of opinion. ‘At this level every one becomes an expert on education, and each of us judges the school system in terms of the final goals we set for ourselves, our children, our tribe, our country (p.12). This system of nomenclature is not standardized by Beeby, but is the basis through which quality of a good education is viewed from.  ‘It would be easy to exaggerate the discrepancies that exist among judgments, at each of the three levels, of what constitutes a good education (p.13). A wide variations and prejudices are expected while defining quality of education.
Quality Education in Bhutanese Context
Over the years, there has been an increasing criticism about the education and concern about the quality going down. Some of these are prompted by nostalgia while others relate to subjective definition of quality (Lhazom & Chhoeda, 2003). Whether the criticisms are crafted after accepting the tangibility of these words is still mysterious. Like the pioneer of education in New Zealand, Beeby (1966), for practical purposes, regarded to argue with first studying the evolution of the system and the teachers who work within the system. Aligning the same, Dorji (2005), relates to the ‘situation and time in which, the education system occurs (p.180).
However, ‘the quality education’ in the Bhutanese context is defined as provision of wholesome education where the emphasis is placed not only on reading, writing and understanding but on the all round development of all the individual (Lhazom & Chhoeda, 2003). On the whole, it means excellence in academics is important while acquiring the technical and vocational skills is also necessary. Thus, ‘in our context…the attainment of wholesome education is an indication of quality (Dorji, 2005:180).
Linking with the Beeby’s propositions to understand quality, our concept cannot quit befalling into all levels. Within the classroom conceptions, priority is on reading and writing, keeping in view the statistics of students who pass the grades as a result of the external examination. Our schools work within the framework of strict syllabus implementation and much of product is viewed on how many children get through the examinations. Sometimes, this reveals that, ‘one standard measure of quality is the competencies attained by children against a given set of educational objectives set in the syllabus (Lhazom & Chhoeda, 2003:2). In the market place, the bigger ratio of student graduates from the colleges and institutes for employment, promotes the economic productivity.
Our education system based on wholesome education, where emphasis is laid on a holistic approach incorporating the values and skills, easily fulfills the Broader Social Criteria. ‘As they leave school, our young adults should possess adequate knowledge of science and technology, of culture and faith, of values and traditions and of ethics and good living. Apart from these, we expect our young adults to have adequate skills to be able to deal with the day-to-day challenges at their work places, to be gainfully employed and to think critically and morally for the benefit of self and society. We then might say that these constitute quality of education in Bhutan (Dorji, 2005:180-1).

Five Strategies in assuring Quality Education
The Eight Annual Education Conference (2004) held at Khuruthang, Punakha have discussed the five strategies/ pillars to build the quality education:
i.              Quality infrastructure and facilities
ii.            Quality curriculum
iii.           More instructional time
iv.           Enhancing wholesome education
v.             Quality teachers
1. Quality Infrastructure and Facilities
The essence of good school is characterized with the provision of quality infrastructure and facilities for conductive learning. Only with the provision of quality infrastructure, one may argue of a sound delivery of the pedagogical instructions. Otherwise the belief of ensuring quality education would be in bleak and faltering, for the teachers won’t be equipped with the basic necessities. Wangchuk (2008) writes, ‘once they are in profession, teachers must be provided the right kind of professional tools and resources to get the job done. That is to say that, if there are better working conditions for the teachers, there will be better learning conditions for the learners. And that will make all the difference’ (Bhutan Observer, Vol.III 18, 2008:5).
The assurance on prioritization of quality infrastructure is definitely a connotation for ensuring the ‘enabling conditions’ for the teachers at their disposal for the sound delivery of quality education. Getting equipped with the modern amenities will enshrine ‘pedagogy of enquiry’ so that teachers will not discover ‘knowledge as a commodity, which is transferable (NIE Paro & Samtse, 2005:11), but identify their presence in demonstrating children to discover their innate potentialities-the fibre of their genetic gift.
Only with the provision of appropriate and adequate teaching learning accessories along with ICT facilities, one may find quite favorable to contest their opinions related to quality. With these facilities in place, ‘the continuity of teacher’s own education will ensure a dynamic school education. When teachers stop developing their knowledge and skills, they will stop developing their students’ (p.43).
2. Quality Curriculum
Parkey and Standford (1998) defines curriculum as the experience, both planned and unplanned, that enhance (and sometimes impedes) the education and growth of students (as cited by Sherpa, 2007:6). In the mind of Grundy (1994), it is a ‘social construction and that it is determined at particular historical times in particular locations, within a particular society or even a particular school, according to what is judged to be the most appropriate subject matter, learning environment and ways of learning (as cited in Yeshey, (2007:21).
Morris (1995) understand curriculum as a plan if activities that are carried out in a school to promote the intellectual, social, physical and personal development of the learners (in Dorji, 2005:41). While Dorji (2005) agrees that ‘at the classroom level the plan promises to fulfill the experiences, to acquire some level of knowledge and skills enable them to serve their family the community and the nation in the future’ (p.41). He conceives that ‘at the broader level it must also reflect the national goals of economic development, social change, cultural and spiritual values and above all the political philosophy of the country’ (p.41). The curriculum is the blue print of all learning experiences that take place for the students in the school (CAPSD, 1996:6).
There isn’t any precise and concise definition that can exactly encompass the meaning of the curriculum. Therefore, ‘Quality curriculum’ is yet another taxing and daunting connotation. Because ‘curriculum policies vary from country to country and are generally determined by the social and political beliefs’ (Dorji 2005:44) a successful curriculum is never always definable at all times. It is subject to review times to time so that it remains sensitive to the relative and immediate needs of the present times.
‘In Bhutan the 1976 paper on education, though very brief, was perhaps the first curriculum  policy that promised to maintain a close link with the culture and tradition of the country while expecting the challenges posed by the growing technological development in the world at  large (Dorji, 2003:44).  As a result, ‘the Division of Education is responsible to provide a Nation Wide System of School Education which is:
·         responsive to the expectations of the country;
·         relevant to the needs and aspirations of the students;
·         efficient in the use of available resources and;
·         effective in the achievement of high quality and sustainable educational programmes.
                                                           (The Purpose of Education in Bhutan, 1996:3).

 3. More Instructional Time
To accommodate a minimum of 180 days instructional time, school start from February 20th instead of the March 10th. This has been instituted since 2005 (Ministry of Education, 2006).
The Eight Annual Conference has further discussed the number of terms, start and end date of the terms, and duration of the term break. They have made a resolution that, only two terms be instituted in all schools starting 2005 academic session, which is labeled as below:
First Term: 20th February – 30th June
Second Term: 1st July – 15th July
Third Term: 16th July – 18th December
The normal classroom teaching is started from the first day of the school term. The teachers report to school on the 10th of February every year, and the school ensure that the time fro9m the 10th to 19th February be used towards achieving greater preparedness for the start of the session. (Eight Annual Education Conference, 2004:11). Teachers spent most their time in the schools right from 8:00 A.M in the morning to 5:00 in the evening to ensure the adequate instructional time.
4. Enhancing Wholesome Education
The Bhutanese education is typical in nature that it stresses on wholesome approach of child development. While literacy and numeracy is deemed meaningful accessories of education, the holistic approach with the provision of vocational and technical skills useful for real life situations are identified exclusively indispensable.
Wholesome in its literal meaning pronounces a great deal of influences that exhibits morally good implications. Its attachment to the world ‘education’ promotes a denser significance, as the education itself firmly speaks of bringing desirable changes acceptable in the society-a relative term for self enlightenment.
Dorji (2003:130) shares that ‘the idea of wholesome education is to make students physically, emotionally, and ethically sound’. It is ‘an effort to develop children physically, morally and intellectually’ (p.132). At its general prospect, he relate to a method of ‘preparing children to be good. This means that, in educating, we make all efforts to help develop in children, all the qualities of goodness, such as gratefulness, appreciation, respect, cooperation, compassion, love, understanding, loyalty, dedication, honesty and truthfulness’ (p.131).
Making it more comprehensible and culminate wider meaning, he asserts to ‘a definite purpose, that is, to make the child literate, responsible, skilled, and mature and a productive citizen’ (p.134). It ‘involves helping and guiding children to learn as they grow and develop in body, speech and through processes. It involves caring and protecting them from all kinds of abuse and self destructions, and being sensitive to their needs and feelings’ (p.138).
In any way, ‘the essence of wholesome education is therefore giving children enough opportunities to learn to grow in their knowledge, analytical skills, with positive attitudes, culturally sensitive, socially responsible and physically and morally sound citizens’ (p.159).
Bhutanese approach in understanding wholesome education is unique, as it is ‘also interpreted as inclusive, bringing together children with varying abilities to learn’ (p.133). The education system fosters a balanced opportunity for children of diverse abilities. Seven major learning areas have been widely accepted, with the aims of blending academic abilities with skills and attitudes. The major learning areas are:
1.    Languages:
·         Listening and speaking
·         Reading
·         Writing
·         Literature
·         Listening and speaking
·         Reading
·         Writing
·         Literature
2.    Mathematics
·         Mathematics
3.    Science
·         Science
·         Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Computer Science
4.    Human society and its Environment:
·         Environmental Studies
·         Social Studies
·         History, Geography and Economics
5.    Creative and Practical Arts:
·         Visual Arts and Craft
·         Songs, dances and music
6.    Health, Physical Education and Personal development:
·         Health and Population Education
·         Games and Sports
7.    Socially Useful Productive Works (SUPW)
·         Agriculture and Social Forestry
·         Socially Useful Productive Works
                              (The Purpose of School Education in Bhutan. 1996, 6-7).
5. Quality Teachers
While all of above strategies strongly accounts for assuring quality education, an analysis of the fifth strategy, ‘Quality teachers’ in a great deal would seriously uncover wider meaning of this writing.
The PROPE team (1995:54) has a remark that ‘if any single factor can make the difference between a poor school and a successful school, it is the commitment and initiative of the teacher (as cited in Dorji, 2005:68). So, ‘whether there are adequate resources or well-written curricula, it is the teacher who ultimately matters for improving the entire system of education’ (Dorji, 2005:182). A teachers’ work will make the difference in the success or failure of an educational innovation… Teachers are morally, intellectually and emotionally an integral part of the process of teaching and learning (Dorji, 2000 as cited in Dorji, 2005:68).
Therefore, it is vividly reasonable to bring into limelight the current trend of the teacher status in Bhutan. Even in a well equipped school with quality infrastructure, standard curriculum, and an adequate instructional time, if the quality teacher is not warmly recognized, would endure mediocre result. Hargreaves (1994:11) argues, ‘unless profound attention is paid to the processes of teachers development, improvement in buildings, textbook, materials, technology…would result in little achievement (as cited in Dorji, 2005:70). Teachers are therefore, crucial and critical agent in the sound delivery of a quality education.
The quality of teachers according to Beeby (1966) depends strongly on two factors, ‘the level of general education of the teachers’, and ‘the amount of trainings they have received’, (as cited in Dorji, 2005:71). Dorji (2005), on the other hand, proclaims that ‘there are two other points that affect the teacher quality at their work place. One is the condition under which they work including culture, leadership and management in the school. The other is the development opportunity that the teachers avail during their career (p. 71).
Being one of the pioneer Bhutanese educationists, he understands that, ‘in Bhutan, teacher quality also depends upon the conditions in which they work. It is in improving qualifications and the conditions for working that a teacher-centred policy has been initiated. One’s emotional capacity is also a determinant of the quality of a teacher (p.86-7). Bhutanese teacher lack a serious emotional vigour and for most of the time, they are put into pressures. 
Perceived indicators of declining Quality of Education
1.    Teacher shortage, subject recognition and the deployment
2.    Teaching environment
3.    Teacher-Parent relationship
4.    Acknowledgement an motivation
 1. Teacher shortage, subject recognition and the deployment
One of the major challenges the educations sector is faced with at the moment is the shortage of sufficient and competent teachers (NIE Paro and Samtse, 2005:3). This is in fact a global trend as, ‘many countries face a shortage of teachers, and more specifically of an adequately trained teachers’ (p.9).
In Bhutan, at present, 13.9 percent of the total teaching force is made up of expatriate teachers, consisting almost entirely of Indians (General Statistics, 2005: 21) besides, using apprentice and practicing teachers from the two Colleges of Education to outstrip the huge gap of insufficiency.
‘…while the quality of the teachers is the single and most influential factor for students’ achievements, (NIE Paro and Samtse, 2005:9), it is crucial for the country to recruit and retain professionally qualified teachers. It means, while the qualification of teacher is necessary, the professionalism in pedagogy is also inevitably important.
Since, ‘the development of our children as adults with high moral standards and values, right attitudes, adequate analytical skills, and disciplined minds are in the hands of teachers (Dorji, 2005:81), it is much rewarding to employ the trained and qualified teachers. The current statistics has revealed that ‘most of the untrained teachers with academic qualifications are Indian nationals’ (General Statistics, 2005: 20).    
Consequently, ‘some of them are found academically and pedagogically incompetent in delivering the much espoused quality education (Tenth Annual Education Conference 2007:9). 
On the other hand, the governments with the hopes to bring wider changes in education, their ideals are juxtaposed, while ‘many leave as and when opportunities are available in their own pace putting the school in a difficult predicament and disrupting the smooth functioning of the school’ (p.9). At such circumstances, muscular optimism and hopes of thousand students are crucified and bankrupt, while none would explore this interventions rather than contesting their judgments on students’ fragile performances as a result of poor teaching.
The teacher deployment to the right place for what they had been trained to be, was viewed with a paramount significance. However, the most disheartening fact is the lifeless panorama of an exquisite implementation. At times, the decentralization of the teacher deployment exposes a shift of authority only to outcast tempestuous disgruntles and discontentment. Policy makers seem to negotiate without paying enough heed on what they have put into black and white. The Ministry of Education has raised four points for assuring quality education, out of which two spelt out that,
i)             Secondary teachers must be posted in secondary schools and likewise B.Ed primary teachers posted in primary schools
ii)            Generally, subject combination of teachers must be respected (EPGI, 2007. Annexure XXII).   
Quite recently, the deployment of teachers connoted a burden of taking additional time to dispose the teacher graduates wherever necessary irrespective of their specializations. There are cases, where fresh graduates have to be a multi-grade teacher in a sterile community schools without any formal trainings. ‘The use of multi-grade classrooms has helped to increase access to education but placing taxing loads on teachers and limits amounts of time and attention that teachers can spend with students (UNICEF, 2000:34). Because, these teachers do not directly apply their related subject skills and knowledge in the classrooms, they remain confiscated from the deficiency of multi-grade teachings and skills.
There is neither a distinction between secondary and primary B.Ed and as satisfactory acknowledgment on their subjects. Secondary B.Eds are placed in far flung community schools, only to image idleness with their two subject specializations. A sensible recognition should surface to figure that these degrees of variations make the difference and these discrepancies are necessary. Otherwise, there is no reason in classifying themselves right from the induction course before they join the real teaching.
 2. Teaching Environment
Lhazom & Chhoeda (2003) states that ‘while infrastructures such as classrooms are the first requirement and the easiest to provide, subsequent demands on teachers, materials, training and support system are harder to provide (p.1). In most of the schools in our country, ‘over crowding of classrooms, shortage of qualified national teachers and inadequate learning/teaching resources are some of the factors strongly affecting the quality of learning in primary education (Millennium Development Goals: Progress Report 2002, 2003:16).
Moreover, ‘the workload of the existing teachers in the schools are huge and we cannot expect the teachers to provide quality education when they have to grabble with issues that they cannot address like huge classes, huge teaching loads, numerous activity to carry out and concerted teaching they have to do (Tenth Annual Education Conference, 2007:8). In classrooms with high student-teacher ratio and where undifferentiated group interaction is the norm, teachers may not detect individual learning needs (NIE Paro & Samtse, 2005:9).
The expertise and commitments of teachers... must be combined with good working conditions, supportive community and enabling policies to allow quality education take place (p.45). All educators are aware of the complexity of teaching. It only makes sense that continued excellence in such a field requires continuous growth and refinement (Daniel & Abrutyn, 1997:37). It is only a person in teaching profession, who is expected to lead the younger generation, and hence, he is expected to have a broad based knowledge in addition to specialization in a particular field (Safaya, 1982). It is therefore necessary to provide avenues for teachers to continue their education. By now we know enough that the teacher is the most important factor that can make a difference in the success and failure of a school (Dorji, 2005:170).       
The recruitment of ‘…competent and committed teachers to help every student reach his or her potential, is a critical factor in the provision of quality education (NIE Paro and Samtse, 2005:45). Thus, the government should ‘continue to support schools in more remote and isolated districts utilizing both financial and human resources to improve conditions and the quality of education… (UNICEF, 2000:35). It also should ‘continue to promote and support teacher’s professional development, especially in rural areas, particularly in-service programs, distance education, and information exchange on new initiatives and topics of interest (p.35). Only with ‘…the combined force of good teachers, school conditions, management and leadership and adequate learning materials available are necessary for an enriched learning environment (Dorji, 2005:181). We need to identify and pay more attention to teachers who can and will use appropriate method to help children learn and help improve those who think completing the syllabus is more important than anything else (Dorji, 2005:168).  
3. Teacher Parent relationship
Although, ‘educating children is a common responsibility of all adults and not the teachers alone (Dorji, 2005:149), at the moment a good parent-teacher relationship is lacking in our society (Choden, 2008).
Parents need to understand that sending children to school itself is not enough. Monitoring their performance and checking on them on a timely basis is mandatory for every parent. Each one of us has to play our part equally in the education of our children (Choden, 2008). While ‘parents are the main stakeholders in their children’s education (Dorji, 2005:148), it is known that, ‘in a great many situations, the support or lack of a support of parents is the key to the child’s success in the school (Richards & Earl, 1999:85). In their view, ‘the effectiveness of a school’ program is dependent upon the successful collaboration of principal, teacher and parents (p.90). ‘The more interaction there is between the school and the community, the stronger is the bond between the two (Ministry of Education, 2005:20).
Presently, the minimum parents’ participation may be because, ‘there is a huge misconception among many parents that, once the child goes to school, it is the responsibility of the school and the teachers to take over charge of the child (Choden, 2008). There must be healthy and trusting relationship between parents and teachers (Dorji, 2005:149).
Therefore, ‘it is very important for parents to attend parent-teacher meeting in the school. It is an open forum where issues of mutual interest may be deliberated at length’ (Choden, 2008). Also important is the responsibility of parents to become involved in school activities to show their children that they are concerned about learning. Teachers need this parent support (Rickards & Earl, 1999:86).
‘Parents instill in their children the desire to learn by showing an interest in learning themselves. This, in turn, is transmitted to their children. When parents are in different toward school and learning, their children see no value in attending school. Such an attitude increases the difficulty of providing appropriate instruction for student, and also increases the likelihood of their failure (p.85-6). ‘By the close parent-teacher relationship, a child could be saved from falling into bad habits and company. Juvenile delinquency can be reduced and productivity enhanced. In the end we would be producing a successful individual, a proud parent and a satisfied teacher (Choden, 2008). Besides, ‘they could encourage teachers to focus on children’s education and remove any possible conflict with the community by extending their full cooperation in physical development and maintenance of school properties (Dorji, 2005:149).
Consequently, ‘it’s advisable for parents to know her children’s every teacher and for the teacher to know the child’s details and background. This can be achieved only if parents and teachers share open communication and collegial relationship (Choden, 2008). While, ‘still remaining free, parents must now provide support by creating an enabling environment in a school where their children are enrolled. They need to participate in school activities by providing moral support to teachers and not join the cynics in lashing unwholesome criticism at them (Dorji, 2005:148-9). Involving …parents in the evaluation process will lessen the livelihood that misunderstanding will occur. As teachers, we are concerned with growth and student’s progress over time, such as during a grading period, semester or year; however, parents are typically more interested in the product than the process (Rickards & Earl 1999:87).
4. Acknowledgement and Motivation
 His Majesty the fourth Druk Gyalpo in his message during the Silver Jubilee Celebration of Sherubtse College (1993) stated that,
‘The greatness of the country is determined by its people. The productiveness and character of the people is in turn determined by the quality of education they receive”.
So, ‘schools have vital role to play in molding students intellectually, morally, socially and culturally. Those are the aspirations of our King, country and its people, which, we proudly refer to as Tsa-Wa-Sum (Ministry of Education, 2005:10). The ‘school education delivered with the intention of bringing out the treasures otherwise hidden in the individual, requires the greatest of efforts by our teachers (Dorji, 1999:42).   Teachers, therefore, become the most reliable sources from which to emanate the lights of vision (p.42).
To make the vision come true, much is expected and demanded of teachers. Much more efforts need to be made for improving the quality of teachers. Improving the quality of education requires the recruitment, training, social status and working conditions (p.43). A child’s first teacher must be well trained and motivated, so that it will help build a sound foundation on which all subsequent learning will be built (p.43).
As modernization opened many opportunities within the government and the private sector, teaching began to lose its luster and began to be associated more to drudgery and as a profession for those who did not qualify for other vocations (Lhazom & Chhoeda, 2003:3). Today, ‘the pressure on our teachers has never been greater any other time and the challenge for them to deliver the goods never more difficult than now (Tenth Annual Education Conference, 2007: 8).   The Indian educationist Safaya (1982) sincerely understands that ‘the financial stringencies, the huge domestic responsibilities, the professional work-load and the environmental factors disturb the mental health of the teacher.
So, even in our context, ‘…there is a general feeling that the Royal Government needs to put in adequate incentives into the system such that the best teacher are attracted and retained (Tenth Annual education Conference 2007:4). The ‘teaching allowance’ as a gift to the teachers in July, 1998, from the fourth king Jigme Singye Wangchuck to ‘enhance the morale and motivation of working teachers’ and to bring ‘improvements in personnel administration as well as (other) incentives for excellence’ (Education Division, 1998 as in Dorji, 1999:43), has been completely washed away. Incentives are necessary for our teachers because the lack of such provisions is posing a negative impact on job satisfaction. Teacher “morale” (an emotional state which rises and falls according to circumstances-CERD, 2007:19) is low and the prospect of movement up the career ladder is bleak resulting in quite a few of them leaving for greener pastures outside of education. There are strong signals coming from the field and unless the Royal Government reads these signals and put in schemes, not only to help retain the existing teachers but also to attract new teachers, the children of Bhutan are going to face the prospects of poor delivery of education (Tenth Annual Education Conference, 2007:4-5).
It is therefore, basically understood that, ‘teachers were expected to make a lot of sacrifices but very few schemes were there to improve their lot (Lhazom & Chhoeda, 2003:3). So, ‘the Royal Government shall have to put in incentives to the teaching profession to retain the existing staff as well as attract new and competent teachers. Otherwise, it is a dejected teacher group with low morale that we are holding accountable for delivery of quality education to our children (Tenth Annual Education Conference, 2007: 8).
There is uneven discrepancy between national and non-national science teachers too. Nationals, though equally qualified and certified to teach, are deployed and retained in community and primary schools to labor the same job devoid of any scarcity allowances. The reason is microscopic in nature a one may interpret, but affords a superior impact on being overlooked. These sorts of taxonomy in the teaching profession paint a negative color whether Bhutanese trained teachers are inferior to teach or the syllabi in the training colleges are futile.
The fact that, ‘the principal goal of our school is t provide quality wholesome education’ to our student (Ministry of Education, 2005:11), a strong and effective education system is integral to individual success, social cohesion, progress and national prosperity (NIE Paro and Samtse, 2005:45).
Our education system should identify that ‘improving the quality of primary education is another important consideration that cannot be ignored while seeking to enhance quantitative progress in enrollment (Millennium Development Goals: Progress repot 2002). Higher proportion of enrollment would not necessarily designate better quality. Sometimes, ‘there may be need to focus more on ‘non-enrollment’ as  a challenge  than to dwell on ‘enrollment’ as an indicator of success (NIE Paro and Samtse, 2005:45). Our education being ingrained with the provision of quality wholesome education, the ‘children who are not enrolled, those who repeat and those that have dropped out must become a priority interest of education planners and practitioners (p.8). The anthology of these figures may help to compromise the quality of education from the Bhutanese standpoint.
There should be an investigative up-gradation of the schools. Due to adhoc up-gradations, there are circumstances where schools function without necessary teaching-learning materials and enough teachers. A newly up-graded schools lack science laboratories, enough classrooms, references and textbooks for that level. During the curriculum changes too, by the time textbooks and teaching materials are delivered, almost half academic session is over. Living by such phenomena, teachers rush up to cover the syllabus which puts quality at stake. Consequently, it reminds us to have the materials prior to start of the academic session.
Accepting the complexity in arduous profession like teaching, the incentives owed for their service is discussed everywhere in length and breadth. While the argument to reinstate is made naked, it still remained in words. It is, therefore, obvious to re-establish the much talked about grants for the teachers. To outstrip the growth national science teachers being facile, ‘scarcity allowance be considered for Physics and Maths teachers regardless of nationality and for other teachers (Tenth Annual Education Conference, 2007). When they are placed in remote schools, nationals are disadvantaged referring to irrelevance and non-teaching of their major subjects. They remain as the most overlooked de-motivated lots who equally teach and accept responsibilities to their capacity.
There should be due recognition and respects on the subject specialization of teacher graduates at the time deployment. According to Tannebaun & Yukl (1992), ‘aspects of the post-training can encourage, discourage, or even prevent the application of new learning on the job (as cited in Dorji, 2007). Without which being done, secondary teachers when positioned in multi-grade based community schools end up taking multi-grade teaching, where they remain crippled. ‘Small class, appropriate and sufficient teaching-learning materials contribute to the successful multi-grade programs if handled by trained and experienced teacher (Tenth Annual Education Conference, 2007). Dorji (2005) emphasizes that ‘a teacher is better qualified to implement new ideas or practices if a greater amount of exposure is made available to him/her (p.79). Thus, the statistics of current multi-grade teachers in remote schools be noted, and offer exposure abroad because it is whom, in reality, uses the skills and encounters the taxing organization of multi-grade teaching within the limits of their sparse ideas and teaching materials. When opportunities are availed by few, who do not directly implement the skills in the real classroom situation, it engenders and de-motivates the hardworking teachers, thereby stake the espoused quality of education.
There are mystic procedures in decentralization of teacher deployment. There is no clear and due recognition of the subjects during the time of deployment, as being configured in the training colleges. Primary and secondary B.Eds, the term itself depicts the disparity of the trainings pursued, while their subject specialization pertains to huge variation. Thus, ‘…it would imply that B.Ed primary teachers are also to be placed at primary schools only and B.Ed secondary teachers in secondary schools (NIE Paro and Samtse, 2005;42).
A reasonable percentage of teaching force in our country is made up of expatriate teachers. While, many strive to perform well within the limits of the requisites, a few cases of uncertain leaving are still rampant. Some arrive to seek a temporary employment before they avail other lucrative business in their country, often leaving the school at complicated predicament. Deeming it less frequent and minute, in which we normally fail to execute exquisite attention and remedies does matters to have the share in delivering quality education.
With the contemporarily demanded teaching skills and pedagogic methodologies, the fresh graduates assumed to apply innovative initiatives is risked when their ideas are made vulnerable to criticisms rather than motivation in the schools. At such circumstances, it is sensible that the leader of the schools be well-informed and made exposed to existing revolutions in the education system. Theoretical seminars on making them the breathing examples of the young and novice, a mentor to accept failures and the man of principles, a motivator thus up-gradation of their qualifications are crucial. Confining themselves with traditional kind of educational settings coerces the vigorous beginners metamorphose and drink the ‘new wine in the old bottle’. Much later, acclimatization to such nature engenders the lust and optimism of the young and this is where many get engulfed by complacency and tag along the age old tradition that the school has. 
Bhutanese school curriculum are reviewed constantly so that it sensitizes the immediate needs and to ladder up with the fast changing world. Still then a reasonable appreciation is required in ‘making the curriculum more relevant and interesting, including aspects of developing valuable life skills, and improve the aptitude, motivation and qualification of teachers are necessary for upgrading the quality of education in primary schools and at higher levels (Millennium Development Goals: Progress Report 2002, 2003.).   
As more has been learned about the educational problems of emergent countries, it has become increasingly obvious that quality and quantity in education are inextricably intertwined, and that the relation is a complex one (Beeby, 1966:14-5). One cannot detach either while trying to spring the light of quality in education. And this entails almost the same to our education system.
In the recent years, the rapid adoption of western model of education has facilitated many of our people to face the new challenges posed due to advancement in science and technology. Today, putting education in the lead, we notice a swift expansion in enrollment quantitatively. Now, it has pronounced a predictable configuration where we observe that ‘…education is at the heart of both personal and community development; its mission is to enable each of us, without exception, to develop all our talents to the full and to realize our creative potential, including responsibility for our own lives and achievement of our potential aims (Delors, 1998:19 as cited in Thinley, 1999).
With the comprehensive inception of schooling in our country, ‘in more recent years there has been an increasing call for a more ‘wholesome’ education (Thinley, 1999). The succinct adoption of this approach, within our context has enriched to better appreciate the quality in education. We are also reminded that Bhutanese understanding of quality in education is absolutely based on wholesome education.
Every year, during the time of vacation, with the initiatives from the parent ministry, the responsible stakeholders assemble to brainstorm innovative process to provide quality wholesome education. The provision of ‘the idea of wholesome education needs the collective efforts of a supportive community, leadership, dedicated teachers, and the necessary infrastructure (Dorji, 2005). The shared effort of parents, community and the stakeholders concerned, therefore, persistently remains as a calling rather than attempting to see it as a trade or a business to realize this particular vision.
At some instances, when none remains accountable, ‘perhaps the quality might suffer a little owing to the pressures and depression teachers have to undergo (Dorji, 2008:5). Because, teachers’ single handedly cannot lift the quality, they are currently at the same time, ascribed for the cause. As a direct instructional gatekeeper and the practical implementer of the curricula, they are liable to have their share in the deal but not as a total basis. In its ultimate sense, there is no possible reason to infer in the same. Indeed, it is comprehensive that blend of rationales integrate sturdily and reasonably.
And the recent cry over the drop in quality of education is because people are agreed with unconfined echelon of expectations from the schools. ‘In practice, at the lowest level of judgment, people with very different backgrounds and purposes want many of the same things from the schools (Beeby,1966:13). One cannot merely predict and take for granted without firm evidences when pertaining to dispute over such subject. No piece of study has attempted to indicate this degeneration so far and the current beliefs are there, hypothetical.
In Bhutan, one logical expression can be because; there is a varied comprehension to the foreign interpretations. Many debates seem to have argued based on the subjective connotation. Through, study, it reveals that our approach to accept quality is embedded with wholesome education, where children are fed academically sound information; instill value education, provide cultural and cocurricular activities. It means, in our setting, even if the children fails to continue higher studies, as a result of which s/he is dropped-out of the school, the relative use of the acquired vocational and technical skills at home would infer quality.
In summary, any sort of discussions which pertain to portray the nature of quality of education in Bhutan have an adequate room to explore and is debatable otherwise. Much study are demanded to diagnose the much-talked-about topic. It should not curl as a cause and in any way, should not depict as a failure. In a nation of small population like ours, with assurance, it is affordable to say that the quality of education stands beautifully as an occult opportunity. It is an opportunity retained with cause and solutions defined, but left without a trace of investigating with those solutions. Thus, in a nutshell, it is worth leaving the quote of Robert mallet which labels:
“It is not the impossibilities that we get despaired of, but the possibilities that we failed to realize”.
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"Inclusive, good-quality education is a foundation for dynamic and equitable societies"- Desmond Tutu       

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