Attract, but retain too

In a heartening development on the education front, a qualitative selection system has been initiated to attract high performing high school graduates into the teaching profession starting this year.

This is done by having the admissions for the Bachelor of Education programs carried out first before the admissions in other undergraduate programs of the RUB colleges.

This new qualitative selection system, which is being implemented by the Paro College of Education, is aimed towards attracting high performing class XII graduates to consider teaching as their first choice.

Such an initiative is, therefore, timely considering the criticisms garnered by our education sector for the quality of education. A selection system like the one above is also a kind of mechanism that will ensure that only those get admission and trained, who are genuinely interested in teaching and who prefer teaching over other professions.

There is no denying that the quality of education depends on the quality of teachers. We cannot, therefore, envision having a high quality of education with lackluster and uninterested teachers, who are indifferent to or are less serious about the teaching profession.

Itโ€™s heartening that the focus is now being on quality rather than quantity. This has also been aptly emphasized by His Majesty The King during the National Day Address last year when His Majesty indicated that the numbers often donโ€™t mean achievement or success.

According to His Majesty, it has been many years now in the country that emphasis is given so much on the numbers and that we continue to focus on the numbers.

What His Majesty meant is that if the number of schools has increased, if the number of teachers and students has gone up, the quality of the countryโ€™s education must go up too. Contrarily to these increasing numbers, the quality has gone down. 

And while not just attracting quality candidates, other measures and reforms in the education sector must also be initiated to retain the teachers once they are trained. Teacher attrition is a major challenge confronted by our education ministry today.

Over the six years till December 2020, more than 1,700 teachers have left the profession. It was only in 2020 when the year recorded the lowest teacher attrition rate in six years with a total of 163 teachers leaving the profession as of March 2020. The figure of 2020 was 317 less than that of 2019, according to the 2020 Annual Education Statistics.

However, the reasons for the decrease in the attrition rate in 2020 is not definite. It could be because of the pay revision for civil servants in July 2019 that made teachers the highest-paid civil servants in the country or as a result of Covid-19 pandemic that has restricted travel movements for those wanting to go to other countries.

The attrition rate in the last six years, however, at least shows that an increasing number of teachers are leaving their profession. Our focus now must not only be on getting quality teachers, but also on how we retain them.