Nu 30 billion allocated for the education sector

The government, in its draft 13th Five-Year Plan, has allocated Nu 30 billion, equivalent to 12 percent of the total budget outlay of Nu 250 billion, to the education sector.

Among various other initiatives like up-gradation of school infrastructures like libraries, computer labs, and recreation, the government aims to reduce the number of schools from 505 to 319. This is expected to improve efficiency of educational services delivery and improve the overall health of the sector.

The draft plan, which has almost materialized into its final stages, also states that a sizeable chunk of the budget will also be implemented to further human resource and capability enhancement. This initiative will go a long way in improving our teacher’s capabilities while also help retain them from migrating to foreign soils.

Furthermore, the schools will be upgraded with infrastructure facilities such as improved laboratories, recreational facilities, adequate housing for teachers and support staff, and adequate space for learning among others. 

The Plan also aims to perk-up school infrastructure through development of 57 model schools. One of the standing factors of the plan is to achieve zero digital divide by improving student-to-computer ratio from 1:10 to 1:5. In addition, the government envisions revamping our higher education programme to meet international standards like that of the coveted Oxford and Cambridge universities. 

One of the major reforms, ambitious albeit doable, is to increase the percentage of students to score a minimum of 70 percent in STEM subjects in class 6, 8, and 10, with the start of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) school. Among others, the subject of special education needs (SEN) faculty is also outlined in the Plan.

Apart, the 13th Plan will conceptualize the ‘Bhutan Professional Standards for Teachers (BPST) while independent boards would be established so as to enable and augment the liberalization of the entire school curriculum.

To ensure proper nutritional care for school-going children through the school feeding programme, the government will increase the stipend for all students from the current Nu 1,500 to Nu 2,040 a month. Further, there are ambitious plans charted to invest in ECCD programs by staffing these childhood care centres with adequate and trained professionals. 

The 13th FYP budget outlay, of a whopping 12 percent of the total budget, for the education sector, is a welcome reprieve for a revenue-starved nation like Bhutan even as the world goes about spending a bulk of their money on arms and militarization.

This shows why Bhutan is special, and unique, in its own small ways. 

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