The government’s proposal to do away with Saturday classes in the schools has received some attention. The idea is to give students and teachers a ‘reflective time’ by not having to come to school for half a day.
While some are of the view that the government is meddling with the education system by taking populist decisions, those in the education system, including students feel that the decision is a wise one. Echoing the education minster who talked to The Bhutanese, teachers are of the view that doing away with Saturday classes will give enough time for both students and teachers to prepare for a fresh week ahead.
Those in the system would know best what is good for teacher and students. Therefore, it would be best to seek their views. We are sure that teachers will not campaign for it just for the sake of having a half-day extra rest.
We should weigh the pros and cons. Are the classes effective? Could we devote Saturdays to some other activities? Will it help students and parents? The questions are many.
From observations, it is safe to say that most agree to the decisions. The rural perspective is that students can have one more day to help themselves and their parents. If helping parents with agriculture is education, there is nothing like working in the fields. In urban areas, some are of the view that the half-day school on Saturdays are affecting students. This is because they feel that unlike normal days where students spend until 3:30 or 4 pm in school and go home directly, students have more free time on Saturdays. It is not uncommon to see young students loitering around the town in school uniform on Saturdays.
Doing away with the Saturday classes will not be any different in the boarding or central schools. But teachers and students could focus on other learning activities. What about excursion on a weekend as a part of education?
What about working in the school vegetable gardens for half a day instead of regular classes? The school agriculture program is gaining popularity in many schools. Some are self sufficient in egg, pork and vegetables while some have excess to make some income for the school.
It is not guaranteed that every student will finish school, go to university and become a civil servant. Some university graduates are already turning to farming as a source of livelihood. We have an important policy of making Bhutan self-sufficient. Devoting more time on lessons taught outside classrooms will equip out students with life skills. Skills that would come handy more than what they learn from books.
We see a lot of advantage in the proposal. We can only hope that the extra half-day will be utilised meaningfully, especially in central schools.