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India, a major partner in Bhutanโ€™s education journey

By Tandin Wangchuk

A  modern  education  system  based  on  reason,  values  and  scientific  temper  is  key  to  a nationโ€™s development process.

In  the  pursuit  of  a  quality  and  modern  education  for  all, the government of India is keen to support the Education Flagship Program of the Royal Government of Bhutan further bolstering the strong ties between the two countries.

The Royal Kasho on Education Reforms highlights the need for  a  radical  rethink of  Bhutanโ€™s  education  system  to  meet  the  challenges  of  the  21st Century.  It  underlines  the  need  to  transform  curriculum,  infrastructure,  classroom  spaces, and  examination  structures.

Indian Embassy in Bhutan said the Education Flagship Program aims to digitalise schools across all Dzongkhags of Bhutan and enhance the digital competencies of both teachers and students. 

For the 12th Five Year Plan of Bhutan, India has committed a Project Tied Assistance (PTA) of Nu/Rs  28000 million for implementation and development of projects. Out of this assistance, an amount of Nu./Rs.  600 million has been earmarked for the Education Flagship Program.

โ€œDuring the third Bhutan – India Development Cooperation Virtual Talks in June  2021,  it  has  been  proposed  to  increase  the  allocation  of  Education  Flagship Program to Nu./Rs. 900 million.  Under   the   Flagship   Program,   the   Information   Communications   Technology   (ICT) curriculum  for  grade  4  to  10  is  being  reviewed  and  revised,โ€ Embassy sources revealed.

It also claimed that the new curriculum will incorporate the additional component of coding for young leaners to acquaint them with ICT at a  young  age. 

Further, the  existing  ICT  curriculum  will  also  be  adapted  to  visually  impaired learners. The flagship will also build capacities of teachers across Bhutan in imparting ICT skills and teaching coding to students. 

A  key  aspect  of  the  Education  Flagship  is  the  development  of  digital  infrastructure development   of   schools   across   Bhutan.   Through   this   program,   supply   of Desktop Computers,  Laptops,  Tablets,  Projection  Devices  is  being  done  to  various  schools.  

Indian embassy sources said the program will also provide internet connectivity and local area network connectivity to these schools.  Bhutan  –  India  cooperation  in  the  domain  of  education  is spread over  various  projects.

In addition, the GoI under  the  12th  Five  Year  Plan,  provides merit  based Undergraduate  Scholarships  to  375  students  to  pursue  undergraduate  studies  in  India.  Under Indiaโ€™s Project Tied Assistance (PTA) scheme, a project for the Professional Development of Teachers is being implemented  across  all  20 Dzongkhags. 

Further, a PTA  project  called Existing Central Schools is being implemented to create centres of excellence in 58 schools spread across  Bhutan.

To provide benefits of modern education  to  children in  remote and inaccessible  areas,  children  of  nomadic  communities and migrant  populations  as  well  as children with learning disabilities, a program to establish 20 Boarding Primary Schools is being implemented by various Dzongkhags with Indiaโ€™s support.

To  complement  Bhutanโ€™s  efforts  at  digital  transformation  and  e-learning,  Government  of India  has  implemented  the E-Library  Project  in  Bhutan. The  project includes  the development of an e – library portal, establishment of a data centre in Thimphu Tech Park, creation  and  management of e-  content  and  creation  of  e  –  libraries  in  49  schools and 12 colleges  in  each  district  of  Bhutan. 

Additionally,  a  peering  arrangement  called NKN-DrukREN between  Indiaโ€™s  National  Knowledge  Network  (NKN)  and  Bhutanโ€™s Druk Research  and  Education  network  (DRUKREN)  has  created  a  free  information  highway between universities, research institutions, libraries, health-care and agricultural institutions of the two countries, benefitting 28 DrukREN members and more than 6000 users.

Indian Ambassador Ruchira Kumboj said the Government of India is honoured to be a part of Bhutanโ€™s pursuit of modernising education to  the  benefit  of  its  citizens,  in  line  with  the  vision  of  His Majesty the King  of  Bhutan as enunciated in the Royal Kasho on Education Reforms.

โ€œAs digital increasingly becomes the new normal, India stands ready to extend its support to help Bhutan achieve its full potential through digital inclusion and connectivity,โ€ she said.

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