Yangchen C Rinzin
The success of the education flagship programme is now dependent on how effectively the government can address the constraints of human resources including information technology teachers, infrastructure, and budget.
Education flagship programme focuses on digitalisation of schools, and attempts to ensure that the students are engaged with ICT from pre-primary and make them IT literate.
Today, most of the schools across the country have a host of issues such as shortage of ICT teachers, computers, internet services, budget for internet, and replacement of computers.
Currently, Classes IV-X have one period for ICT lessons a week while computer science is offered as an optional subject in higher secondary schools. However, only 10 percent of the primary schools offer practical literacy in ICT lessons and have their own IT labs.
All secondary schools have at least a computer lab with 10-32 working computers with internet leased line, and 30 percent of primary schools have internet leased line.
The existing teachers are trained on basic ICT literacy through Chiphen Rigphel project who have joined before 2009.
Education ministry’s deputy programme officer Yeshey Lhendup said that there is a need to review and develop ICT curriculum for Classes PP-III.
He said there is also a need to increase the ICT period to two for Classes IV-XII in a week. ICT classes are expected to be implemented by 2021 for Classes PP-III.
“Although there is a requirement for three periods from the Royal Education Council (REC), with the flagship budget we can only have two periods. This is considering the infrastructure, requirement for additional computers and lack of teachers.”
Yeshey Lhendup said that for the capacity development, all the teachers would be trained in digital pedagogy including ICT lab assistants. “A module would be developed in two education colleges and train the lecturers.”
The flagship programme includes construction of computer labs, setting up computer labs in primary schools, providing additional computers and labs in larger schools, and strengthening internet connectivity.
Yeshey Lhendup said that although the programme has a budget of Nu 1.066 billion. An additional Nu 350 million (M) would be required if computer labs have to have furniture.
“We would require policy directive in terms of resource allocation. Currently, the existing Nu 40M budget annually for the internet is not enough. We would require Nu 60M if we’re to enhance ICT in all schools.”
He said development and revision of ICT curriculum alone would cost about Nu 74.9M. Infrastructure development is estimated to cost about Nu 650.9M and Nu 107.5M for capacity development.
“Coming January, we would start working on the curriculum and by December 2020 the teachers would be trained on the new ICT curriculum,” Yeshey Lhendup added.
Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering directed the education ministry to meet the relevant agencies like REC and RUB to discuss the curriculum development, training to teachers and lab assistants.
“Take time if required but don’t rush to implement the flagship,” Lyonchhen said. “Let’s explore all the possibilities.”
He assured the government’s support for the programme including more resource allocation.