Science and Mathematics are our future. Their development will play a critical role in shaping our nation’s success. It is in this backdrop that the education ministry’s decision to establish a premier school for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in the country is highly appreciated.
Mathematics and Science were never very popular among Bhutanese students and so the average mathematics and science scores of Bhutanese students have been poorer than in many developed countries.
Findings of a diagnostic standardised test conducted in 18 schools for classes V, VII and IX in English, Mathematics and Science subjects showed that student learning outcomes were below the minimum expectations of their grade levels. The study showed that in Class X only three percent of students scored 80 percent and above in Science and Mathematics in 2017. In Class XII, students who scored more than 80 percent in Mathematics decreased to six percent in the same year, a three percent drop from the previous year.
Today, employment opportunities for school and college leavers are scarce and becoming ever scarcer. Rising youth unemployment, perhaps the biggest social and economic problem we are confronted with today, and problems arising from it, stand testimony to it.
The indication, however, is that the sectors that are showing positive signs of growth are science and technology. From the perspective of economic growth, creating employment opportunities at home is by far more preferable to sending job seekers abroad. What this means is that there is today a need to give our graduates the best possible chance by making them employable.
The establishment of STEM will, therefore, go a long way in increasing the aptitude of Bhutanese students.
But then, we cannot also afford to forget the importance of the humanities. According to the same study, we are also doing poorly in subjects like Language, History, and Economics. It is important, therefore, to relook into the overall education system in the country today. Because the future of our nation lies in the capabilities of our young people, they deserve the best.
It appears that the issue that has long been screaming out for attention is being heard finally. And that augurs well for the nation’s future.