Yangchen C Rinzin
The education ministry called off the two Information and Communication Technology (ICT) classes a week programme that Royal Education Council (REC) announced earlier last month. The education flagship programme would require at least two periods for ICT.
REC in its notification issued on November 15 announced its decision to allocate two classes a week for ICT literacy from classes IV to X.
It directed all schools that offer ICT literacy to increase ICT periods to two in a week from the 2020 academic session. It was sent to all the chief dzongkhag education officers (CDEO) and chief thromde education officers (CTEO).
Currently, only one period a week is allocated for the ICT literacy and practice ICT skills.
The education ministry on November 25, in contradictory to the REC’s notification, issued a notification to all the CDEOs and CTEOs informing them to defer the implementation of the REC’s notification.
The school education department’s director general, Karma Tshering wrote that the decision to defer the implementation has been taken because of the shortage of teachers and inadequate ICT laboratory facilities in the schools.
The REC during the sixth ICT subject committee meeting decided to increase the periods after many schools reported inadequate time for ICT classes. In a year, the students get only 32 periods for ICT literacy.
However, with the notification from the ministry, REC officials said that the REC notification will now automatically stand void.
The official added that during the subject committee meeting, they decided to go ahead to implement two periods, as the existing teachers can handle two periods in the schools that have implemented ICT.
“However, if the ministry feels that the existing teachers would not be enough to have two periods then we might have to go by the ministry’s decision. We might have to discuss again, as education flagship is also coming up that is focused on the digitalisation.”
REC director Kinga Dakpa earlier told Kuensel that the extra classes for ICT would be adjusted with the classes allocated for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) club in all the schools.
It was learnt that TVET club would not be implemented from the next academic session, which was supposed to start from class IV because of budget constraints.
However, it would wait for the education flagship programme since it has proposed for two periods for ICT.
During the discussion on the flagship with the Prime Minister on November 28, ICT deputy programme officer Yeshey Lhendup said that there is a need to increase the ICT period to two for classes IV-XII in a week.
But it would be implemented only from 2021 when the flagship is endorsed.
“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.”
He also added that 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. 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.
The flagship programme once approved and implemented would include construction of computer labs, setting up computer labs in primary schools, providing additional computers and labs in larger schools, and strengthening internet connectivity.
Literacy with ICT curriculum for classes IV to IX was implemented from 2017 to 2019 depending on the readiness of the schools. It was in line with iSherig 1 (2014-2018) and Bhutan Education Blueprint (2014-2024).
According to the Annual Education Statistics 2019, 253 public and 279 private schools have computers.
However, in terms of student-computer ratio, 23 students share one computer in public schools, while 16 students share a computer in private schools on an average.