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MoE to reduce number of schools to 200 in 12th Plan

A study found that teachers on average work 2.45 hours more than a general civil servant a day

To reduce workload of teachers, the education ministry plans to reduce the number of schools to about 200 by the end of the 12th Plan.

The ministry plans to reduce the number of schools by establishing about 120 central schools and large boarding primary schools, others being day schools and highland schools. There are today 584 schools, which incudes 96 extended classrooms, 20 autonomous schools, 51 central schools and 513 other schools.

Officiating chief programme officer with school planning and coordination division, Kaka, said reducing the number of schools would address issues schools are facing such as deployment of teachers, not meeting the national Teacher-Student Ratio (TSR) of 1:18 and teacher development.  “It will also be reasonable for the education ministry to deploy sufficient support staff such as sweepers, caregivers, warden, matrons and counsellors,” he said. “At one point of time, we established too many schools to give access to students.”

Through central and large boarding primary schools, he said teacher development becomes easy, as schools with fewer students could merge with central schools. “If teachers are deployed to central schools or large urban day schools, their services can be optimised, reducing workload of teachers.”

The reduction in the number of schools, Kaka said would also make achieving the national TSR of 1:18 practical as there are some schools with 1:5 TSR and some with 1:30.

A review report on the quality of education 2016, found that on average, teachers work 2.45 hours more than a general civil servant a day, 57.51 hours a week or 10.45 hours a day. “Policy mandates teachers to devote a minimum of 180 instructional days in an academic year, which shows that teachers work 55 days more than a general civil servant in a year,” the report states.

The report states that a teacher on average spends 17.42 hours on non-academic activities in a boarding school compared to 10.02 hours in a day school a week. “Teachers in boarding schools work 1.3 hours more everyday compared to teachers in day schools.”

The study report on the workload of teachers conducted in 2016 states that primary, lower secondary, middle and higher secondary school teachers spent 43 percent, 27 percent and 30 percent of their time in contact teaching (teachers going to the classrooms and teaching excluding all others) respectively.

According to the report, 45 percent of teachers expressed satisfaction in the teaching profession. “Female teachers (49 percent satisfied and 51 percent not satisfied) were more satisfied than the male teachers (40 percent satisfied and 60 percent not satisfied).”

The study also found that teachers are given additional non-academic work which drain the teachers’ time and energy. “Involvement in non-academic activities was identified to be the reason for the difference in the workload ratings.”

The study recommends reduction of teachers’ time to 14 hours of contact teaching, 14 hours of other activities such as planning, assessment, research and follow ups, five hours of other supporting duties such as assembly, social work and study duties, and to provide additional support staff such as matron and warden.

Kaka said the ministry plans to reduce contact teaching from 22 hours to 18 hours. He added that if a community wants the school and if there is sufficient infrastructure with a minimum of 150 students, the community would be allowed to have a day primary school.  “The schools in highland are an exception. These schools, irrespective of the number of students will remain and receive benefits of central schools in the 12th Plan.”

The urban day schools and private schools would continue to function as it is now. Including students and teachers in the private schools, the country has 168,092 students and 19,415 teachers.

Teachers however, said that their workload has not changed.

Rinchen Drakpa, a teacher at Kazhi Primary School said that of the seven 50 minutes period in a day, he gets only one or two free periods.

He said that with only eight teachers in the school including the principal, he also bears additional responsibilities such as club coordinator and housemaster.

Nima Tenzin, 30, who has been a teacher for seven years, said that as his school is in a remote area, the workload hasn’t changed much.

He said five teachers including the principal teach about 120 students. “Of the 43 periods in a week, we only get about two periods free,” he said. “However, with the appointment of some administrative support staff recently, we don’t have to take up those works.”

Karma Cheki

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