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Train teachers first for change

Major changes in the education are in the offing. That’s good because our education system must change with the changing times. Perhaps the challenges that we are facing today have their roots in our inability to walk with the demands of the dawning or at least the experience of something lurking afresh about.

 How we lift-off the changes is important, however. Otherwise, more than any good, we could be doing inexcusable harm to the future of our children and that of the nation.

Rolling out from the campaign promises, here are the plans as they come: Classes from classes pre-primary to three will not have to appear examinations from 2020.  Looking from the perspective of formative learning or assessment, this approach is very much desirable.

The goal of formative assessment is to help students identify their strengths and weaknesses, for the teacher to recognise where the student is struggling and to address problems, as opposed to summative assessment or learning where learning is evaluated at the end of an instructional unit by comparing it against some standard or benchmark.

The difference is between low stake and high stake – in formative and summative systems, respectively. Overnight change will not be possible and should not be attempted also. For any change to take place in the Bhutanese classrooms, it must first start with teachers who are at the centre of lesson delivery.

That the education ministry is fully aware of the challenge is reassuring: Our teachers must be first trained for change. How are we planning to ready our teachers for the change, though? There may be country and systems where formative system is not preferred to summative, but do we have all the requirements for the changeover to succeed?

If study before we make any changes to the existing system demands more time, so be it. Continuous assessment of student’s learning should ultimately be strong. Necessary interventions besides to improve learning capacity of students, even their attendance ought to be monitored. 

The change will not take off and will be meaningless or else. What is conventional may not necessarily be bad if what is new is not adopted perfectly for what it can proffer us.

As traditional adage holds true still: Jump the distance worth your while, or you have only to gasp for the last breath.

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