Sunday, October 26th, 2014 - 12:56 AM
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A slip in standards

The poor performance in English is a reason enough to worry students, parents, teachers and policy makers alike.  The average score of 49.29 in a subject that was once considered easy is poor by any standard. Hopefully, it could be a one-time blip and that students will perform better from this year. Bhutanese students are actually expected to score better in the subject.  We start learning English from kindergarten, and English is the medium of education in the formal education system, except for the monastic [... Read More]

The housing allowance riddle

Most civil servants received their first revised salary with the 20 percent housing allowance. But many are feeling cheated, as the 20 percent housing allowance, the selling point, which the government used to justify a decent salary raise for civil servants, in reality, is turning out to be something else. The housing allowance is not for all civil servants, but selected groups, like the ones living in rented apartments.  Those occupying National Housing and Development Corporation’s (NHDC) houses in colonies in various parts of the [... Read More]

An airport trap

For the thousands of Bhutanese travelling to Thailand, the duty free shop at the Bangkok international airport is a favourite place to do last minute shopping, whether to pick up a gift or spend their remaining baht. But the duty free shop, it seems, is turning out to be a dangerous place to pick up a gift for your loved ones, or to window shop.  There are stories of how departing passengers are detained for allegedly shoplifting and let off after paying huge sums of [... Read More]

The housing loan

The central bank is being cautious in lifting the restriction on the housing loan.  A draft guideline is posted on its website for public feedback, although the feedback itself is not made public. The board of directors met yesterday.  It is not known what had transpired at the board meeting but, going by how the governor berated a reporter of this paper, calling him for information, there could have been some fierce exchange of words at the meeting. But one thing is clear.  Members of [... Read More]

Employable graduates

The government’s initiative of giving interest-free education loans will free many parents from the burden of finding resources to send their children for further studies. Educating children is becoming expensive and competitive.  We often hear stories of parents selling land, heirlooms and even cattle to fund their children’s education, in the hope of a better prospect in life.  This zero percent education loan will provide economically disadvantaged students an opportunity to compete with their peers, who have the advantage of not just finance, but also [... Read More]

A logical rural land tax

Call it bold, shrewd or dogged, but Mongar dzongkhag tshogdu has again resolved to increase land tax and propose the same to Parliament for a second time. Their proposal, submitted during the last session of Parliament, was shot down by the National Assembly, but this has not deterred them to risk a second submission.  This time, it seems, they have the backing of at least all the chairpersons of the tshogdu, the highest decision making body at the local level. Should Parliament take it up [... Read More]

Major minor issue

Going by the figures of rape of minors, we should be ashamed as a society.  The figures are alarming – 13 minors in five months and 35 in a year.  This is more than three minor rapes every month. In most societies, this is reason enough to bring down a government, or strip authorities of their responsibilities and power. We don’t call for public outrage or encourage people to come out on the street to stop the crime against minors, but the figures are alarming [... Read More]

Rainbow realm

If colour is the face of beauty, nobody can beat us, as we are poised to become more colourful. Left to the creation of nature, Bhutan is much appreciated by the world, because it displays the pristine colours of nature that are intricately woven into our clothes, and embedded into our collective consciousness. But we are taking a step beyond the bequest of nature.  Our buildings have to be painted only in four colours, dustbins are bound to be green, signboards blue, and now e-taxis [... Read More]

Power-pinched pockets

A part from the “happy country” tag, Bhutan is also known, enviously, as the country with the cheapest electricity rates.  Compared with the region, electricity is dirt-cheap in the country, but it is not going to be so, any longer. With the latest revision, electricity, some have realised, is becoming expensive.  And this applies to home users, besides the industrialists, who are already complaining of the new rates. The rate per unit charged to domestic consumers is now exceeding even the rate charged on the [... Read More]

Spare the rod …

The Mongar court verdict, indicting a school principal to three months in prison for lashing a student, has once again thrust the controversial issue of corporal punishment in the forefront. The principal’s action was against the education policy, which is framed in accordance with the convention of the rights of the child.  The child was the victim and the marks on his body spoke volumes. The statement the principal provided to the court was that it was the last resort.  The Class IX student had [... Read More]

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