Student enrollment in schools and institutions slump

Student enrollment in schools and institutions slump

Vaguely portrayed reasons are low fertility rate, migration, and change in education policies, amongst others

In a surprising turn of events, the country has witnessed a significant decrease in student enrollment in different schools and institutes. According to the Annual Education Statistics 2023, the number of students enrolled in schools and institutes stands at 182,137, reflecting a notable drop of 8,484 students enrolled compared to the previous years’ enrollment of 190,621.

For grades PP-XII, the total enrollment stands at 155,159 in 2023. It was a decrease of 7,377 students in comparison to 2022’s enrollment of 162,536.

While the report does not explicitly address the reasons behind this enrollment decline, several factors have been mentioned. One of the contributing factors includes new educational policies, such as introduction of the high-stakes class VII examination, which has led to more students repeating the same grade.

Additionally, the decision made by the substantial number of students to pursue their education abroad, especially at the tertiary level, has also played a role in the reduced enrollment figures. Further, the government’s decision to increase the weight of continuous assessment for Grade X from 35% to 40% has further influenced students’ decision making regarding their education.

Moreover, the implementation of the Education Management Information System (EMIS) V3, aimed at eliminating duplication and maintaining consistent records, has resulted in lesser enrollment numbers where the system has removed redundant datas which has helped create a more accurate representation of the student enrollment.

In an attempt to gain insights and perspective on this matter, Business Bhutan reached out to Principals and Presidents across various schools and institutions.

Low fertility rate can be the main attributors in enrollment decline. The Director General of Department of School Education, Karma Galey questioned how student admission would increase when there is less population?

Another teacher shared that one of the reason behind this could be migration of parents to other countries. He mentioned that many parents are leaving Bhutan and taking their children with them to pursue their education.

Further, he said that even college students are showing a lack of interest in continuing their studies, instead opting for alternatives or dropping out to go abroad which could have led to drop in enrollment.

Meanwhile, the Principal of Peljoring Higher Secondary School said that there is no decline experienced in the school as of now, instead, there is always rush of admission seekers every year in his school.

“The student enrollment in my school is on the decline,” says the Principal of Damphu Central School. “May be due to upgrading of schools around in the vicinity. Tsirang had two MSS and one HSS. Currently, we have two MSS and one additional HSS.”

The principal said that it could also possibly be due to high stake examination that has resulted into reduced number of students in the higher classes.

The enrollment trend as shared by Annual Education Statistics shows that there has been a slight increase of enrollment in 2019 which was also attributed to the enrollment of all Class X passed students into Class XI from 2018.

The trend line sees a drop of a few thousands in 2020, to rise further again in 2021 due to increased enrollment in tertiary institutes and ECCD centers.

Meanwhile, the average Student-Teacher Ratio (STR) for public schools is 15 students per teacher while the STR for private schools is 13 students per teacher. The STR for private primary schools is 11 students per teacher as compared to 15 students per teacher in public primary schools.

In public schools, the Higher Secondary Schools, Lower Secondary Schools and Middle Secondary Schools have the highest STR (16), and Special Institutes have the lowest STR (4). STR (13) in private Higher Secondary Schools and Middle Secondary Schools is highest, and Lower Secondary Schools have the lowest STR (10).

The STR measures the number of students per teacher. This indicator is often used as a proxy indicator for measuring quality of education, due to the difficulty in constructing direct instruments to measure quality of education.

Nidup Lhamo from Thimphu