Education has played a central role in the social, economic, political, cultural, intellectual and environmental development of the country to give it a distinct identity as a small, peaceful, progressive and happy nation. The Royal Government of Bhutan continues to accord high importance to education as an engine of growth in the nation building process. The past millennium of modern education has enhanced the access to education and reaped immense benefit to the country in terms of producing a generation of nation builders. In spite of these achievements, the system still faces several challenges as it seeks to further enhance educational access, quality, equity and system efficiency at all levels of the education system.
As a developing country known for mutual co-existence in harmony with nature and environment, spirituality, peace and happiness, Bhutan aspires to be a self-reliant, economically prosperous, environmentally sustainable, democratically sound with strong culture, the citizens of which are creative, highly skilled and capable of responding to the emerging global challenges and contributing to the equitable and sustainable socio-economic development and well-being of their community and the nation (NEF, 2012). The extent to which Bhutan’s aspiration of being a self-reliant and prosperous nation hinge on the quality of education, which ultimately has a bearing on the capability, and character of its citizens. Hence, Bhutan’s human development policies, especially those relating to education, training and employment, must take into account the demands of the emerging economy.
The Bhutan Vision 2020 document emphasizes a holistic concept of education. The document also envisages an education that inculcates an awareness of the nation’s unique cultural heritage and ethical values as well as universal values that develop the capacity of the young people. This requires a system of Wholesome Education that grooms the citizens to become knowledgeable, innovative, creative, enterprising, mindful, reflective, confident, and capable of responding to the emerging challenges, avail the opportunities and who make a conscious effort to uphold the traditional values of the nation.
The Ministry of Education in collaboration with the Royal Education Council has taken several reform initiatives towards enhancing the desired state of quality of learning outcomes by putting in place strategic interventions to bridge the gaps prevalent in the students’ learning outcomes, classroom practices, school processes, and education support systems.
In addition, as the aspirations and expectations emerge with the changing times in Bhutan and the world, demand for knowledge, skills and values to be not just the best in Bhutan but also in the world is crucial. Therefore, the school curricula should embrace the emerging learning areas and needs of learners. The Bhutan Education Blueprint 2014-2024 suggests that curricula reforms in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) subjects to be up-scaled; Social Sciences to be revamped with elements of Bhutanese values of Gross National Happiness (GNH) with 21st century skills and pedagogy.
National level school curriculum conference on re-thinking school curriculum is proposed with the following aims:
- Reflect on school curriculum to make it relevant to the current national and global contexts to enable learners to be creative, communicative, critical thinker, collaborative, innovative and enterprising.
- Provide guidance to design short, medium and long-term strategic plans for curriculum reforms.
To achieve the above-mentioned aims, the conference would have the following objectives:
- Validate the subject standards in terms of currency, relevancy and accuracy.
- Access the curriculum content in terms of meeting the prescribed standards.
- Evaluate the delivery processes in terms of teachers’ competencies, teaching learning materials other resources, system support, etc.
- Validate the assessment process in terms of assessment of, assessment for and assessment as learning to achieve desired competencies.
- Provide platform for teachers to share their concerns, issues and provide suggestions in all curriculum development, implementation and evaluation matters
- Invite eminent personalities to share new insights on curriculum matters.
The National School Curriculum Conference shall be conducted at three stages viz. school, Dzongkhag and national level involving the Ministry of Education (MoE), the Royal Education Council (REC), the Bhutan Council for School Assessment and Examinations (BCSEA) and the Royal University of Bhutan (RUB).
Stage I: School Level Curriculum Conference
All the schools across the country are mandated to organize a 2-day School Level Curriculum Conference involving all the teachers. The general findings shall be crystallized by the core team and submitted to the Dzongkhag/Thromdey Education Office for further deliberations.
Stage II: Dzongkhag/Thromdey Level Curriculum Conference
All the Dzongkhag/Thromdey Education Office across the country are mandated to organize a 2-day Dzongkhag/Thormdey Level Curriculum Conference involving principals or academic heads from schools in the Dzongkhag/Thromdey. The most common and cross cutting issues from the school level deliberations shall be crystallized by the core team and submitted to the Ministry of Education for further deliberations.
Stage III: National Level Curriculum Conference
The Ministry of Education in collaboration with the Royal Education Council shall organize 7-day pre-conference and 3-day conference involving the relevant stakeholders.
The MoE and the REC shall identify a core team of members with organizational, intellectual and professional competencies from among the professionals, decision makers, policy makers, etc. to organize and steer the conference.