Enrollment in schools and institutes has also decreased
Bhutan’s achievement in the education field is mirrored in the number of educational institutions that are currently in a country. In six decades, the modern education system has expanded from about 11 schools prior to 1961 to 1,117 schools and other educational institutes in 2022, constituting early childhood care education to technical and vocational education and tertiary education. This is reflected in the Annual Educational Statistics report, 2022.
However, 2022 saw a decline in the number, by 0.62%. While there were 1,124 such structures in 2021, it decreased to 1,117 in 2022, which is attributed to the merger of schools and the closing of redundant centers and extended classrooms. The report states that while the number of schools and educational institutes increased rapidly from 2017 to 2020, it began to decline in 2021, dropping to 1,124 from 1,132 in 2020, and then to 1,117 in 2022.
Similarly, it has also been shown that the number of students enrolled in schools and institutes has also decreased, from 162,536 in 2022 to 168,324 in 2021.
According to the report, “the expansion of the education system has been triggered by rapid growth in student enrollment.” “From about 400 students in the early 1960s, total enrollment at all levels of formal education and tertiary institutes within the country was 190,621 (excluding students studying outside Bhutan) in 2022.”
Based on the enrollment trend, the report states that there has been a slight decrease in enrollment till 2018 and a sharp increase in 2019. This sharp increase in enrollment in 2019, besides other reasons, is also attributed to the enrollment of all class X passed students into class XI from 2019. The trend line sees a drop of a few thousands in 2020, which rises further again in 2021 due to increased enrollment in tertiary institutes and ECCD centers.
Compared to 2021, 2022 saw a decline in student enrollment owing to reasons such as, students opting to repeat in respective classes, students traveling abroad to continue their studies and government’s policy of revising the continuous assessment for grade 10 to 40 % from the earlier 35 %, which triggered students to drop out of school.
The reduction in enrollment is also attributed to the EMIS v3 system which drastically removed duplication of data and inconsistent records.
Meanwhile, the school-based education structure in Bhutan comprises of 11 years of free basic education from classes PP to X. From 2019, with the initiative of the government, all class X passed students were provided scholarships to pursue their education in class XI in government and private schools.
According to the report, the general education structure comprises of seven years of primary education (PP – VI), and six years of secondary education (VII-XII). “In 2020, due to policy shifts, the official school-going-age for enrollment in the first year of primary education has been reduced from 6 years to 5 years old,” it is stated.
After completing class XII, students can either continue their studies at the tertiary institutes within the country for a diploma or bachelor degree, or enter the job market. Students who do not qualify or attend public tertiary education institutes, either through government scholarships or self-financing, go to continue their studies in private tertiary education institutes in the country or abroad.
“Additionally, the government also provides a limited number of ex-country scholarships to pursue higher education to meet the critical human resource requirements. Graduates from the Technical Training Institutes can continue their education at the tertiary level based on their competency and interest,” the report states.
Nidup Lhamo from Thimphu