In the run-up to the upcoming election, political parties have emphasized the importance of prioritizing their pledges for the improvement of the health and education sectors for the country’s economic development. The Vice Presidents (VP) of five political parties shared their respective pledges and initiatives to strengthen these sectors and improve the lives of citizens during the last public debate on November 23.
The VP of the People’s Democratic Party’s (PDP), Dasho Dorji Choden highlighted the need for accessible and affordable healthcare for all citizens. To achieve this, the party sourced fund for the Health Trust Fund and granted autonomy to the JDWNRH to provide efficient health care services during the party’s last ruling term.
The VP said that the health and education service is the first and foremost priority and is needed for the economic development of the country.
Meanwhile, the VP of Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT), Dasho Sonam Kinga stated that the party is committed to allocating the highest share of the budget to the education sector. Their education pledges aim to make the teaching profession more attractive by providing opportunities for professional development through scholarships.
Additionally, the party intends to reduce the workload of teachers by reducing administrative task and extracurricular activities. They also plan to construct staff quarters within the campus, if not nearby. The existing Bhutan Baccalaureate curriculum will be implemented in all schools. The party pledge to increase support for children in the school feeding program.
The VP also shared that they plan to increase the stipend from Nu 1,500 to Nu 2,040 for children in the school feeding program in line with the World Food Programme’s standards and also to provide special training for the cooks.
The VP said that budget for a super specialty hospital is also approved. Similarly, he also said that by 2030, there is a plan to eradicate cervical cancer and also to start a health screening program to eliminate stomach cancer related death, making services accessible to everyone without having to visit district hospitals.
Further, to protect and promote better health, the party also aims to upgrade hospitals with more equipment and doctors at the gewog and district levels, cluster hospitals with at least two doctors. DNT also pledged to establish 10-bed basic health units in each gewog with doctors, ambulances, blood tests, ultrasounds, and X-ray facilities.
VP of the Bhutan Tendrel Party (BTP), Pema Tenzin, said that their pledges on education spread into three parts: schools, colleges, TVET, and universities. He said that schools lack 21st century curriculum, and “our students are still learning about Mahatma Gandhi and World War I and II. To ensure that every Bhutanese gets a world-class education and to prepare for the digital world, schools should have a creative and informative curriculum.”
“The school children and families are having trouble, carrying heavy textbooks. Therefore, there is a need to revise the education system for a creative and informative curriculum in schools,” the VP said.
He also said that they are also committing to keep Saturdays off for teachers, mainly to organize program tours for students to focus on exploring themselves in different fields such as aircraft fields, restaurants and hotels, agriculture tours, and other program tours to understand and keep informed about the situation of the country and also to educate on democracy.
Further, he also added that they also pledged to provide free laptops to all teachers and raise stipends for the students. “If there are sufficient children in the village schools, the government should look for proportionate teachers and regularize contract teachers,” the VP added.
The party also pledges to improve the facilities in college campuses.
In the health pledges, the VP shared that they are committed to developing a digital Drungtsho App and initiating an annual check-up for all, along with outsourcing dental services and medical certificate services like driving tests and employment.
The Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) also places importance on health and education, and annually allocate significant portion of the annual budget of about 12% on health and 17% on education.
The party’s VP, Ugyen Wangdi shared that they promise to offer five doctors for all district hospitals, support health professionals, and provide mobile clinic service and an ambulance to all gewogs.
Under education, DPT pledges to include study leave for teachers if they are willing to upgrade their study as an active service, increase 100% coverage for ECCD and ICT in schools, promote STEM subjects, and also revive some arts subjects depending on the needs.
Civil servants, including teachers, will be allowed to do business by taking three years of leave. He said that some civil servants have good business ideas, but they have been restricted by the Civil Service Act. To replace those who leave for business opportunities, the VP said that proper guidelines will be framed.
Druk Thuendrel Tshogpa’s (DTT) VP, Chenga Tshering, emphasized providing ambulances and portable vehicle services to remote areas and offering short-term overseas training and internship opportunities for health workers with international experts. The party aims to provide nutritious meals, implement heating systems in high-altitude areas, and review the central school system for better coverage.
Nidup Lhamo from Thimphu