Teachers to be awarded teaching license during 12th Plan

Though the Teacher Human Resource Policy 2014 mentions that teachers will be awarded a teaching license, no sign of implementation of the clause is evident so far.

However Director General of Department of School Education, Ministry of Education (MoE), Karma Tshering said that issuance of teaching license might take time but eventually it will come because a standard has to be set.

He added it will definitely happen in the 12th Five Year Plan and it will be one of the ministry’s major focus.

To attract the best in the teaching profession and retain the best teachers in the system, teachers’ professional practice will be legalized through the issuance of teaching license, according to him.

“We are thinking of having a teaching license put in place. But before that happens we have to provide an opportunity for the teachers to upgrade themselves. So right now our focus is on capacity building,” said Karma Tshering.

He further said that for countries abroad, certification or teaching license is a must for all the teachers but Bhutan cannot implement it immediately because it will be unfair to the teachers. “First we need to create awareness on why teachers need teaching license.”

Apart from studying in one of the Colleges of Education under the Royal University of Bhutan and from other recognized regional and international universities with relevant teaching degrees or Masters or Phd and going through Bhutan Civil Service Examination conducted by RCSC, teachers will now have to face another task which is to get teaching license.

Karma Tshering said the license will show whether that particular teacher is fit to be teacher or not. “Ultimately we are talking about the quality of education. To have quality education we need to have everything in place: infrastructure, good curriculum, capable, qualified teachers.”

While the teaching profession is open to many, quality is ensured through civil service entrance examinations. However, once recruited, the education ministry will attempt to retain the best in the teaching profession through various schemes and intervention. It is to ensure that schools not only have sufficient teachers but those of high quality.

According to an official from MoE, it has now come down to quality of education and though they are not comfortable with the number of teachers every year, the number of teaching graduates are increasing  “therefore it is now high time that we go for quality not only for quantity.”

All the young graduates or teachers in service have to go through a certain procedure in order to get the license.

If the teachers fail to get the license, they will not be allowed to practice teaching.  If anybody wants to teach – whether in private or government schools, they would have to first get the license. If he or she leaves the government schools and the license is still active then they can go to any other private schools to teach.

“There has to be a system where we can differentiate between the good performers and non-performers. In case, the teachers fail to get the teaching license, we can come up with plans on how to develop non-performers into better teachers,” said Karma Tshering.

He added that it may not be fair to ask them to leave their profession after years of service they have given it country.

The education ministry is coming up with a system of interventions initially to support senior teachers. “They will get a chance but that does not mean that they will get the teaching license. They will still have to make it up to the standard,” said the education official.

Karma Tshering stated that if a teacher does not have required knowledge and skills, just coming out of college of education is not enough. Along with qualification, the teachers also have to meet certain requirements set by the Royal Education Council.

The MoE will institute mechanisms to issue and renew teaching licenses after every five years based on performance.

“The license will treat teaching as a profession, not like any other job. It will elevate the position of the teaching profession and keep the standards high,” said Karma Tshering.

Meanwhile, the ministry is working on the teachers’ standard report. “We are coming up with a draft. Once teacher standard is endorsed during education conference in the coming year, we can focus on the teaching license.”

So far, the total number of teachers as of 2017, is 9,415 with 8,644 teaching in government schools and 771 in private schools. The proportion of female teachers is about 41% in public schools and about 44% in private schools.

Pema Seldon from Thimphu