Thursday , November 23 2017
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Education must expand and include all

Even as we are in the process of restructuring our education system, our children in some quarters of this country are out of school. This is going by the latest Annual Education Statistics.

About 1,039 primary-age children are out of school, or are not enrolled in any form of structured learning process. It has been found that this group of children could be in the remote areas, in the nomadic communities. Many could be children of the migrant population, and there are those who may have learning disabilities with special needs.

These are important findings. And we need to reach the furthest communities and left-out groups. Because we are talking about education, in this century, it matters all the more. As we are in the process of shaping the 12th Plan, including education for all must be the ministry’s central focus.

Extended classrooms, which played a vital role in including our children in the remote areas in the education system once, is now found to be expensive and redundant. So the idea of central school was born. But still there are complaints from parents in the rural areas that their children do not get the first enrolment preference.

In the highlands, children do not pursue education beyond class VII because leaving their homes for higher education means compromising health and wealth of the family. Recently, in the highlanders’ meeting in Thimphu, this was the issue they raised. Although we have made concerted efforts to include children with special needs in the education system, we have much work to do to fully include them.

Maybe we have not been able to take education to our farthest communities or our central school idea has not succeeded to rope in the children from the remote villages. Otherwise, all our school-going children should be in schools. We are talking about the issue of children being left out of education system when our non-formal education adults who missed the bus is succeeding.

Education and its success is the basis on which a country’s success is measured. How do we measure up to our own education system? Bhutanese education must expand and reach out to the poor and the disadvantaged.

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One comment

  1. This is interesting that the non formal education for adults has been mentioned in the post and this is successfully providing a learning opportunity to those who couldn’t continue formal education in the past or probably never got the access to formal education. When we expect the education to expand and include all; we are mostly expecting to see classrooms and schools to reach every place to provide hundred percent enrolment for those seeking education. The provision for central schools is expected to enhance effectiveness and efficiency of the schooling process when enrolment numbers are expected to be low if the system opt for more schools to reach more places without any residential facilities. But then, it’s still early for the central school system that has got introduced in recent times.

    When it comes to education and schooling, the learning abilities of the children and teenagers are expected to vary even if equal access is provided with education and teachers. If I am not wrong here, it’s a challenging subject even for the experts in child psychology to study the effectiveness of learning among different individual children. A child or teenager in the urban environment with educated parents is expected to get more help in learning. Such a student is also expected to spend more time in his education and schooling. Same is not true for the rural students coming from remote places and challenging economic backgrounds where time to be given to education is not considered that important or sufficiently enough. There are other works to be done including helping the parents and family in their works. Even learning abilities and skills are expected to vary between the girl and the boy child. I hope that I am not wrong there.

    For education to expand and reach all to benefit us so that education becomes an investment for future; I just wish that there were ways to bring changes to the learning methods involved. There may be ways to introduce variations to the syllabus and more options can be provided. Something like the vocational training programmes along with subjects like applied arts and even sports can be integrated as options in the mainstream school syllabus making education a lot more flexible and equally meaningful.

    Moreover, experiments can be done with the teaching and learning platforms. For an example, we can consider a village where majority is involved in farming. The challenge is that students are not willing to get enrolled for schooling. If education here can be provided with the farmland and farming as the methodical platform; any classrooms can be replaced by such innovative platform based learning. Such options can get included in the school education system if we are willing to make the syllabus more flexible providing variety to the learning process in education.

    It may also go a long way in eliminating the differences in the natural learning skills and abilities of the children where even the teachers find themselves helpless in many challenging conditions and educational environments. Otherwise, we expect such learning skill differences to get reflected through the performances in the exams and here… a lot many get left out from the competition and eventually even dropping out from schools. Education should make a good investment if we can make the first 10 to 12 years of schooling a lot more meaningful and involving for applied education skills. Otherwise, 3 to 4 years of graduation followed by 2 to 3 years of post graduation decide investing values for education in our systems of employment and unemployment.

    For education to expand including all for education to be an investment for all; the system of education will need a broader and much more involving base at the bottom where we talk first 10 to 12 years of schooling. It should also ensure quality and better and effective application of education once we move to higher levels in colleges and universities.

    One way forward for that may also be in cultivating a bit more with the central school platform to accommodate more learning options and variety. Are we in a position to experiment with the syllabus to make education a learning success for all?

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