By Chimi Wangmo
The People’s Democratic Party (PDP), in a long press release aimed at the government, has pointed out a host of issues concerning youths and the growing number of unemployed in the country.
Among other various flaws observed, the PDP stated the government should have known better to prepare for the situation as the COVID Pandemic had been around for two years and it was not likely that the borders would be opened anytime sooner.
PDP states that according to the report of the Minister of Education presented in the recent parliament session, only 3567 class 12 passed students are enrolled in different colleges out of 12,595 students who have actually qualified for further studies in 2021.
“This means that more than 9000 students are left without a clear direction in furthering their studies,” PDP states, adding that this figure is besides the thousands who have failed and others who have not qualified for colleges.
The party stated that it is deeply concerned that the DNT government is not only unprepared to address the situation but have in-fact worsened the situation by decreasing the in-take of students in the colleges.
While the PDP acknowledged that the present situation is aggravated by the COVID pandemic, it stated the government could have been more prepared to mitigate the gravity of the situation.
“The government should also have known that the first batch of students who were promoted to class 11 without the cut-off point would graduate class 12 this year. In-fact 2774 students out of 3692 who received the government scholarship are among the students left without a clear direction for their further studies,” the press release further mentioned.
However, the party states that they are surprised to observe that the government colleges within the country have reduced the in-take numbers which had fueled the gravity of the situation.
PDP pointed out that many parents and students who wished to continue further studies in government and private colleges within the country were denied admission even when the scores are as high as 70% which is a score that fetches a college admission easily during the normal times.
Further, the party is also concerned that even after three years of working on the Technical and Vocational Education program – which was taken under the office of the Prime Minister – there is no sign of any progress made.
PDP opines that the TVET program would have been a viable option to attract these class 12 students during such a time if the government was prepared when they first decided to do away with the class X cut-off marks about two years ago.
The party urged the government to allow the government and private colleges within the country to take in students as per the capacity that exist in their colleges, and also authorize colleges to increase their capacity on a fast-track basis to enable them to admit students at the earliest possible time.
It further stated that the government, or the education ministry, can liaise with colleges and institutions abroad where the pandemic situation has improved and is under control to facilitate admission and movement of students.
In addition, the party also asks the DNT-led government to prepare the Vocational and Technical Institutes in the country to absorb those students interested in the sector.
“The government should organize meaningful engagement programs for these students even as they wait for the situation to become normal and make arrangements to provide skills and enable meaningful livelihood to those students who have failed class 12 and have no means to repeat,” the press release pointed out.
PDP had observed that many of the students in this category are the first batch of students who have received government scholarship to study in class 11.
Finally the party stated that ‘as a responsible Political party, in the spirit of engaging the government in exploring alternative policies and ideas, PDP would like to request the DNT government to pay heed to the distressful situation of thousands of students and parents.’
Meanwhile, parents and teachers echoed similar concerns with most class XII graduates, especially those not enrolled in any colleges or vocational institutes, being left idle and doing no meaningful economic activities.
Many said the problem was long anticipated when the DNT government did away with the class-X cut off marks.
It was expected that while the move would reduce number of school children dropping out of school after class X, it would flare up the number of class XII graduates, thereby, pressurizing admission in higher tertiary institutions.
A mother of a class XII graduate, Tshering Wangmo, 52, who lives in Thimphu said her son has been idling away his time for the past few months after he completed his class XII. She said he tried getting recruited in Desuup for several times after he couldn’t get admitted in any of the scholarships announced by the ministry f education.
“Many colleges and universities in India, where majority of Bhutanese send their children for studies, are also temporarily closed because of the ensuing pandemic. So, until the situation improves, I think most children like my son will have lost a good portion of their valuable study years,” she said.