Education fraternity firm behind Sherig Lyonpo

Tashi Wangmo, Thimphu

During question hour at the National Council (NC) on May 19, 2017, the educationminister Lyonpo Norbu
Wangchuk was questioned by the Bumthang National Council (NC) member, Nima, on the issue of teaching history in dzongkha. While the NC member and the minister had their points, most principals and teachers that The Journalist talked to said they support the minister.

Principal of Yoedzerling School in Paro, Chencho, said he watched the news on Bhutan Broadcasting Service. “It is always easy for policy makers to conduct a study and come up with recommendations. But the problem arises during implementation,” he said, adding that the country does not have enough resources, both in terms of human resources and materials to embark on this trail.

“There are three very crucial aspects required: firstly, dzongkha teachers, who can teach history; history teachers who can teach in dzongkha and finally text books and resources.” The Principal said that a priority of the education sector has always been to promote and strengthen the national language. “We are doing it in different ways. But it does not mean that a policy or policies which are bound to fail should be included to promote the national language,” he said.

Speaking along the same lines, Trashi Yangki, a teacher from Trashigang said she is “solidly behind the minister.” “We know the importance of our national language and if a study is conducted to find the status of our national language, the result will be impressive. But we are not yet ready to teach history in dzongkha,” she said. On NC MP Nima’s argument that he had met students who supported it, Trashi questioned: “But how many students have said this? Has a study been done,” she said, recounting the challenges that she and the students faced, when the first experiment to teach history in dzongkha was conducted. “I can guarantee that every teacher will be with the minister on this issue,” she said.

“This was tried in 2010 and 2011,” Namgay Dukpa a teacher from Chamgang said. “It failed and the main reasons were because dzongkha teachers were not trained to teach dzongkha and general teachers could not confidently teach in dzongkha. He furthermentioned why a policy that failed should be reconsidered.

Sonam Choden from Gyalpoishing Central School said the only benefit will be promotion of the national language. “Apart from what the minister and other teachers said, there is also the question of adaptability. It is not easy to change something overnight and the main problems will be the capacity of teachers,” she said.

A principal from a school in the capital who did not want to be named said the issue of workload will surface. “Do we
make a teacher solely a history teacher, trained in dzongkha, or make him or her teach other subjects, also,” he said, adding that in schools “the history of the world is taught.” “Just imagine the challenges that will surface,” he said.

Meanwhile, Lyonpo Norbu Wangchuk had said that the education ministry will not be able to consider the National Council’s recommendation to teach Bhutan History in Dzongkha. Apart from past experiences which failed, Lyonpo said that students were not able to learn as expected, which became a cause of worry for the parents.

Education Minister, Norbu Wangchuk

“It turned out to be neither History nor Dzongkha. Dzongkha teachers taught History not as a subject but as a
language, while the general teachers who gave a shot at it were not able to teach in a way it was supposed to be taught,” said Lyonpo. The minister mentioned that a lot of preparations in terms of teacher’s readiness, students readiness and curriculum framework is necessary before making the decision. However, a feasibility study would be carried out by the Royal Education Council (REC). Lyonpo also mentioned initiatives undertaken to promote dzongkha language in schools.

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