Bhutanese Political Parties Unveil Innovative Education Pledges in Election Campaigns

Education has emerged as a focal point in the campaign discourse, with parties vowing significant transformations and reforms in the sector to resonate with voters.

November 18, 2023 1:14 pm

Bhutanese Polls

Thimphu : As Bhutan gears up for the upcoming elections, the nation’s political landscape is witnessing a surge in promises related to the education sector, with five major political parties vying for voter support through innovative pledges.

Education has emerged as a focal point in the campaign discourse, with parties vowing significant transformations and reforms in the sector to resonate with voters. However, concerns have been raised by bureaucrats and relevant agencies regarding the absence of a well-defined education policy, which has allowed political parties to manipulate and adapt policies to fit their narratives.

Among the notable pledges, the Bhutan Tendrel Party (BTP) has stood out by committing to completely eliminate the existing individual work plan (IWP), a move that has not been detailed further. This bold stance diverges from the common promise among other parties to review and implement alternative measures for the IWP.

Pledges encompass a wide array of proposals, including declaring Saturdays as a day off, digitalizing schools, boosting technical vocational education and training (TVET), focusing on early childhood care and development (ECCD), and promoting science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education.

Both Bhutan Tendrel Party and People’s Democratic Party have vowed to transition contract teachers into regular or para-regular civil servants, echoing a commitment made by Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa in 2018, which faced challenges due to the Royal Civil Service Commission’s mandate.

Bhutan Tendrel Party goes a step further by proposing the establishment of an education reform council and introducing a separate education bill to minimize political interference. Additionally, the party pledges a one-time allowance for teachers to purchase laptops.

Diverse approaches are evident in incentivizing schools, with promises ranging from providing lunch in urban schools (BTP) to reinstating central schools with added perks (PDP) and introducing boarding facilities in selected Thimphu schools for lower-income families (DNT).

Stipend increases for improved nutrition feature prominently in the pledges of PDP, DPT, and DNT. The issue of central schools, initiated by PDP and discontinued by the third elected government, is revisited in party promises.

Curriculum enhancements are also on the agenda, with Druk Thuendrel Tshogpa (DTT) committing to finalize the Bhutan Baccalaureate, PDP exploring international curricula like Cambridge and the International Baccalaureate, while others focus on STEM subjects and school digitalization.

Parties such as DPT, BTP, DTT, and PDP emphasize involving private schools to de-crowd classrooms and contribute to the private sector’s growth. Meanwhile, DNT, PDP, and DPT concentrate on improving teachers’ work environments by deploying more administrative and support staff.

In the tertiary education sector, BTP and DPT prioritize reinstating arts and humanities courses, emphasizing equal opportunities for their growth.

The education-focused pledges by political parties aim to make the sector more attractive, fostering a conducive learning environment and advancing the educational landscape for learners in Bhutan.

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