Bhutan faces shortage of about 842 teachers

Bhutan faces shortage of about 842 teachers

MoESD minister says that on an average, approximately 100 teachers resign every month

During the ongoing session of the 4th Parliament of the National Council (NC), the Minister of Education and Skills Development (MoESD) Jai Bir Rai expressed concerns over the shortage of teachers in the country. The minister revealed that there is a shortage of approximately 842 teachers across the country and said that of particularly worry is the fact that 416 teachers resigned voluntarily within the past five months.  

The minister was responding to questions from the National Council (NC) Member of Parliament (MP) from Pemagatshel, Jamyang Namgyel.

The minister said that unlike employees in other sectors, replacing teachers is not an easy task and that various strategies are being devised to fill the vacant positions. The minister said that in addition to regular planning processes, alternative methods are being explored to address this problem.

As an immediate measure, the minister said that in the past, the Teacher Requirement Exercise (TRE) monitoring was done once a year. “However, due to a significant increase in attrition since 2019, we are monitoring it more frequently to keep track of teacher attrition.”  

 “Previously, the recruitment of contract teachers was managed by the Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC). However, due to time constraints, the selection and recruitment process has been decentralized to the dzongkhags,” the minister added. 

To address the lack of teachers, the superannuation age for teachers has been extended by an additional 2-3 years. Furthermore, the ministry is now permitting interested teachers, who have resigned to join as contract teachers. 

“In an effort to enhance learning opportunities, a learning management system had been introduced and short educational videos are being uploaded in the platforms such as YouTube and other educational platform, to help students learn online,” the minister said.   

Additionally, the minister added that due to the scarcity of teachers, school principals have also taken roles in teaching, despite their administrative responsibilities.

While increasing teacher salaries has been one approach to motivate teachers, the minister said that it alone is not enough to reduce attrition. “On an average, approximately 100 teachers resign every month.”

As part of immediate measures, the ministry said that they have expanded the intake of teacher trainers at Samtse and Paro Colleges of Education. Plans to let students who don’t meet the ranking criteria to take the exam twice a year to qualify for the regular teacher post are in the pipeline.

As a long-term plan, the ministry said they are planning to adhere to international policies. “If attrition rates continue to rise, the government aims to provide computers for all schools across the country, facilitating self-learning opportunities for both teachers and students.”

The minister also said that they also have plans to improve living facilities, welfare, and overall well-being of all teachers across the country. Additionally, they are looking into the possibility of providing additional proficiency allowances and opportunities for teachers to work in international agencies.

Nidup Lhamo from Thimphu