13th FYP and the Education Transformation Programme

TASHI LHAMO
Thimphu

The Ministry of Education and Skills Development (MoESD) has been allocated Nu. 30 billion to uplift the quality of education while optimizing resources.

Interventions to transform the school education system are grouped under four key strategies transforming curriculum and programs across all levels of education, transforming the educational workforce, building fit-for-purpose infrastructure, and enhancing education governance.

Transforming curriculum

Bhutanese schools and tertiary institutions will adopt and impart curricula that ensure quality education, align with global best practices, and prepare students for diverse opportunities. This transformation aims to enhance their competitiveness and foster a holistic learning experience that meets international standards.

This includes developing the ECCD curriculum, revamping the school curriculum with a focus on transforming STEM education and learning resources, and benchmarking the curriculum to international standards.

This will involve a shift from traditional rote learning towards fostering critical thinking, problem-solving, digital literacy, and adaptability, with increased emphasis on creativity, emotional intelligence, and a global mindset. Additionally, there will be a strong emphasis on enhancing a culture of research and innovation.

Tertiary Education Institutes (TEIs) will be empowered to enhance their contribution to evidence-based policy-making, and to provide platforms for the creation and dissemination of knowledge. Within the tertiary education system, programmes and courses will be restructured and upgraded to international standards and aligned to emerging job market needs.

Collaborations will be undertaken with reputed international universities to facilitate joint degree programs, elective courses with credit transfer, establish accreditation for flagship programs to enhance global recognition, and increase access to personalized learning solutions for students.

The TVET curriculum will also undergo significant reform, diversifying courses to meet industry demand. Its quality and relevance will be improved to produce a workforce that is confident, well-rounded, productive, resilient, and innovative.

TVET institutes will be elevated to global standards through collaborations and partnerships with international TVET partners.

Given the increasing importance of digital skills and the integration of National Digital Identity (NDI) in public service delivery, the NFE curriculum will be revamped to impart essential skills beyond merely improving the literacy rate.

 Transforming educational workforce

Recognizing teachers as crucial assets, the program focuses on transforming teaching professionals, including educational leaders at all levels. To achieve this, both short-term and long-term professional development training for teachers including those specialising in Special Educational Needs (SEN), ECCD, NFE, school counselling, and sports instruction will be pursued.

Additionally, research culture to continuously improve teaching methodologies and enhance learning outcomes will be promoted.

Similarly, upgrading faculty qualifications is essential for delivering quality education programs by TEIs. Professional development training will be provided, including opportunities for long-term studies to meet minimum teaching standards.

TEIs will also recruit international academics as teachers and external examiners, to develop and review programs and courses where national faculty expertise is lacking.

Building fit-for-purpose infrastructure

Modernizing school infrastructure is essential to enhancing inclusiveness, safety, and creating a conducive environment for teaching and learning. A key priority is investing in early childhood development to provide a strong foundation for learning and holistic development.

The 13th FYP will renew efforts to establish community, workplace and private ECCD centers to ensure equitable access to quality and inclusive services.

Guided by comprehensive standards and employing a cluster approach, the focus will be on consolidating existing central schools (63) and other larger schools where feasible and transforming them into centres of educational excellence with improved infrastructure and facilities comparable to global standards.

Numerous studies indicate that investments in quality school infrastructure are strongly associated with improved learning outcomes. New technologies and emerging pedagogical practices have created new requirements for educational building.

Additionally, some schools will be repurposed into specialized schools for STEM, Music and Arts, TVET, Sports and Rehabilitation/Recovery. Strengthening digital infrastructures to enhance teaching and learning will be at the core of infrastructure development intervention.

The ministry will also focus on improving existing school infrastructure including making it more inclusive and disaster-resilient, along with enhancing access to affordable low-cost housing facilities for teachers.

Similarly, improving the quality and ensuring the fit-for-purpose infrastructure of TEIs will involve creating technology-driven learning environments. Attention will also be given to enhancing the liveability of learners and instructors to create an enabling environment across institutions.

Enhancing education governance

Governance of both tertiary and TVET institutions will be strengthened. This will translate into greater functional autonomy for TVET. TEIs will adopt new and innovative business models for revenue generation to bolster their financial sustainability.

The enabling environment for private sector participation will be facilitated as a means to increase access and choice of services with potential improvements in their quality and as a viable partner in instituting innovative and sustainable financing mechanisms.

Along with curriculum and program reforms, the assessment and certification systems will be strengthened to enhance the credibility of qualifications across all levels and to promote excellence and accountability within the education system.

Besides core interventions, essential health and well-being services will be provided.

These include improving sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities, promoting scouting, strengthening sporting and youth engagement, and enhancing school feeding and nutritional programs.

In addition, the MoESD will collaborate with the Bhutan Olympic Committee in promoting sports culture in schools and with the MoH to ensure periodic health screening.

Education Transformation Programme during the 13th Five Year Plan is aimed at fundamentally improving the Bhutanese education system and enhancing learning outcomes. It encompasses ECCD, school education, and non-formal education which focuses on equipping those outside the formal education system with self-sustaining learning skills.

With over 70,000 youths projected to enter the labour market during the 13th FYP, the highest priority will be given to providing the best education and skills training for young Bhutanese, enabling them to realize their potential and contribute to the country’s economic development.

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