Education Minister quizzed on students not getting admission into colleges

From the qualified 12,595 students, only 3,567 students have been admitted in different colleges

The cutoff point decides whether one gets enrolled into a government college earlier. However, this year the math is trickier.

The students who have completed Class XII and have qualified for higher studies are facing problems since there is a limited number of intake for students in colleges in the country.  

The Nanong-Shumar Member of Parliament (MP), Lungten Namgyel, therefore, questioned Education Minister JB Rai regarding the government’s plans and measures to solve the issue during the question and answer hours of the National Assembly yesterday.

Responding to the query, Lyonpo JB Rai said that due to the Covid-19 pandemic this year most of the students who have completed Class XII and qualified for higher studies couldn’t go to other countries to study, and enrolment in government and private colleges has increased.

“Earlier, most of the students chose to go to other countries to continue their studies but with the overseas colleges getting closed in this situation, application at every college in the country has increased,” he said.

In this regard, the MP from Bartsham-Shongphu constituency, Passang Dorji (Ph.D.) suggested if the government increased intake admission into government and private colleges or the government needs to come up with extra private colleges taking into consideration the pandemic.

However, Lyonpo JB Rai said that considering the pandemic, the government can’t allow opening new private colleges. He explained to the House that during the normal time one of the private colleges had come forward expressing to close because of less enrolment.

 According to the minister, around 13,885 attended the Class XII examination this year. Of which 12,500 have qualified and 1,290 have not qualified.

“The trend of not qualifying Class XII students is increasing and we are looking for other possibilities like TVET, Royal Institute for Tourism and Hospitality (RITH) and other diploma courses for them so that they can continue their studies,” Lyonpo said.

Lyonpo mentioned that according to the Tertiary Education Policy of the Kingdom of Bhutan 2010, some 60% of the school-leavers will be admitted in the technical and vocational education and training sector and that there is an opportunity for students who are yet to get admitted.

“We can only take in 10% in such programs as of now,” he said, adding that they hope that the situation will be better for those students who are yet to get admitted to colleges after the pandemic is under control.

He added that according to the Tertiary Education Policy 2008 and 2010, around 60% of the students have to go for skilling programs, diploma, and TVET among others. 

In addition, Lyonpo said that over 200-500 students are given opportunities to study and work overseas, but due to Covid-19 these programs are closed.

“We didn’t stop the students from going outside for their studies and work but most of the colleges outside are closed due to the pandemic. But we are sending students overseas if there are opportunities for our students but they also should have the 2nd dose vaccination,” Lyonpo said.

The MP from Wamrong constituency, Karma Thinley, suggested that as most of the students go for overseas studies after Class XII, the government could plan to open other colleges to upgrade their skills and work accordingly.

Foreign Affairs Minister Dr. Tandi Dorji said that RITH has recently cancelled the ceiling point and recruited most of the private Class XII students to solve the issue.

“We have recruited most of the students and are training them. We also have plans to upgrade diploma courses to bachelors which directly help our students who can’t afford private colleges and overseas studies,” he said.

He added that the government is yet to earmark the budget for the institute from the next financial year to come up with various courses in RITH.

Meanwhile, regarding the government’s plans and measures to solve the problems faced by the Class XII students who have qualified for higher studies due to the limited number of intake for students in the colleges, the Education Minister submitted that from the qualified 12,595 students, only 3,567 students have been admitted in different colleges as of June 24.

According to MP Passang Dorji (Ph.D), around 30% of the students have gone through this Class XII examination and 70% of them are facing issues.

He said the reason for such issues are mainly due to the government’s initiative to do away with Class X cutoff points, closure of colleges overseas and increased students in Class XII.

He suggested if the government could increase the capacity to enroll Class XII students in government and private colleges, the government may then be able to solve such issues in the country.

“If not, most of the students who score 65-70% will also not be able to continue their studies in colleges,” he said.

Kinley Yonten from Thimphu