Some teachers disgruntled with only few schools in self-containment mode

All of the Covid-19 safety measures are in place, assures the education secretary

While many welcomed the education ministry’s decision to postpone the board exams for class X and XII, some teachers, who are already in self-containment mode, don’t seem to be happy with the new changes announced by the ministry.

One major change as per the notification issued recently by the Ministry of Education (MoE) is that schools will prepare for the examination either in self-containment mode or walk-in (as day-scholar) from home as per the feasibility of the schools and approval of the Covid Taskforce depending on the local situation coordinated by Dzongkhag/Thromde.

A disgruntled teacher expressed his disappointment saying that all the students of class X and XII across the country will be required to sit for the board exams, yet only a few schools (boarding feasibility) are functioning in self-containment mode.

“It just doesn’t seem to make any sense making students and teachers of a few schools go through this imposition now that schools have the option of having a walk-in examination,” he added.

Another teacher asked, “What is the rationality of making only certain schools function in self-containment mode?”

Meanwhile, the MoE postponed the board examinations to/from February 28-March 12. The ministry issued a notification on Thursday evening and directed all the schools to put in place Standard Operating Procedures (SoP) for the safe conduct of the board examinations.  

Earlier, the board examinations were scheduled from February 14-28.

Following the notification on Thursday, many students expressed their relief, claiming that they will now have more time for preparation.

However, another teacher from a school in Paro said the ministry’s decision is not fair, especially to those who have followed the ministry’s directives and got into self-containment mode.

“We got into self-containment mode despite Paro being declared as a green zone, when teachers in red zones are still free outside,” she said. “Those in containment mode in green zone areas should also be given the option of walk-in examination for day-scholars.”

“The sole reason given in the notification is that the boarding schools are feasible so they should operate in self-containment mode, but more than half of teachers were required to move in with day-scholars, making it difficult for those teacher having small children back at home,” the teacher said, adding that people making decisions are not aware of such ground realities.

Talking to Business Bhutan, MoE’s Secretary Karma Tshering said teachers, who are facing genuine problems, can contact the taskforce and the ministry will look upon it.

“We cannot afford any kind of movement right now, especially when the students are vulnerable to get infected, as we have seen many positive cases from schools,” he said, adding that those schools, which have already gone into self-containment mode, must continue till the examination is completed.

The secretary added that all the schools have ample wash stations, running water, food disinfection materials, facemasks, face shields, soaps and hand sanitizers.

“We want to provide a safe atmosphere for students to prepare for the board examinations, while also ensuring the academic year’s continuity till the situation improves; therefore, all of the Covid-19 safety measures are in place,” the secretary said.

Meanwhile, the notification also states that seven schools offering BCSE TEVT and 16 schools offering BHSEC Computer Studies will start practical examinations from February 26, 2022.

Further, it has been stated that all the walk-in students and examination conducting officials will go through the mandatory RT-PCR test prior to the exam.

And should the surge of Covid-19 pandemic prolong in more than 50% of the schools by March 14, the notification states that only examination for class XII will be conducted based on the rescheduled examination timetable.

“For class X, the Continuous Formative Assessment (CFA), Mid-Term and trail marks will be translated for final marks for certification by the BCSEA,” states the notification.

Meanwhile, the BHSEC/LCSC (XII) results will be declared on April 18 and BCSE/LCSC (X) results on April 24. 

Tshering Pelden from Thimphu