Bhutan signs the PISA-D program
Coinciding with the closing ceremony of the 18th National Education Conference on 12 January, Bhutan signed Program for International Student Assessment (PISA-D).
The Ministry of Education (MoE) and Bhutan Council of School Examinations and Assessment (BCSEA) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to participate in the program which will start soon.
The program will test 15-year-old students in literacy and numeracy with other member countries every three years.
The program is expected to provide a platform for the Bhutanese students to check their knowledge at the international level.
Lyonchen Tshering Tobgay, who graced the closing ceremony of the conference, said that after seeing the endorsed resolution of the conference, it was sure that the Bhutanese students would do better in PISA-D than other countries.
He said that the student number has decreased to 168,000 this year, so it is easy to take care of every student by individual teachers.
Lyonchen reported that the teacher to student ration in primary schools in Bhutan is 1:15, while Singapore, which has the top PISA score, has a ratio of 1:16. “So we can excel in PISA-D,” he said.
The discussion in the conference was guided by the three pillars of education, namely school, curriculum, and teachers to accelerate the ongoing reform initiatives and efforts towards achieving excellence in education.
Under the first pillar, the timing for school break was changed.
Further review of the requirement of science equipment and chemicals will also be carried out for science practical classes.
Acknowledging the benefits of central schools, nine additional central schools have been declared from the 2017 academic session.
Under the curriculum pillar, the concept of Premier School was endorsed, but the ministry recommended an in-depth study on it.
To promote Dzongkha, the proposal to raise the pass mark for Classes IX and X in all subjects from 35% to 40% will be reviewed in the next National Education Conference.
All the schools will hold a week-long orientation program on values education from the beginning of the 2017 academic session.
Under the last pillar, the ministry recommended that the teachers make an increasing use of ICT for efficient lesson planning and research.
The teachers will be encouraged to specialise in one subject to achieve One Teacher One Subject policy.
Further, dzongkhags or thromdes were recommended to review and rationalise the non-academic and non-professional workload of teachers.
To recognize the recipients of His Majesty’s National Order of Merit for excellence in Teaching and Leadership, meritorious promotion will be recommended to Royal Civil Service Commission.
The MoE pledged to improve drama festivals to promote performing arts in schools.
Similarly, the ministry also pledged to issue safe sanitary pads to every girl student in the country.
On 9 January, the MoE launched the machine to produce safe and lowcost sanitary pads in the country.
The education minister said that with the launch of the machine, the ministry aims to produce safe sanitary pad for every school girl.
Bhutan will soon have nine more machines that will each have a capacity to produce 1,000 pads in a day.
The pads will cost Nu.2.5 per piece.
The four-day education conference ended on 12 January.