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Teacher attrition is a concern: Education Minister

KP Sharma 

About 531 teachers have left the profession in the past five months, according to the education minister. Of that, 416 teachers have resigned voluntarily. That is on average more than 83 teachers resign in one month voluntarily.

Lyonpo JB Rai, during the live interview on BBS said that with the help of the Government of India (GOI), the ministry is going to hire additional teachers from India paying them around Nu 140,000 monthly salary.

The expatriate teachers according to the minister, would be hired to teach Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) subjects. “The remuneration paid to the expatriate teachers should not discourage or de-motivate local teachers. It doesn’t mean that our teachers are not qualified.”

He added that they are paid more because they will be given other responsibilities besides teaching such as assessing and training Bhutanese teachers on different STEM subjects.

The other immediate solution to the attrition problem, according to the minister, is the recruitment of National Contract Teachers (NCT).

The procedure to recruit the NCT has been decentralized to the dzongkhags and they will recruit the teachers based on need and urgency. “In terms of number, it isn’t a big problem but the experience and knowledge of the senior teachers cannot be equalised”, the minister said.

The education ministry has also enhanced digital learning by making the digital learning material available online. With such facilities, parents can guide their children and supplement learning at home.

Bhutan’s teacher attrition rate, the minister said was increasing every year and that the ministry cannot stop them from going abroad.

“They go abroad for study where they get better exposure and of course financial factor is the biggest reason in reality,” he said.

He said when there is a shortage, it puts an additional burden on those remaining teachers.

“When a teacher has to multitask and do so many things, it would be difficult.”

However, he said that the strict assessment and IWP ratings may not be the reason for the teachers leaving the profession.

“We are taking only the high-performing students which used to be otherwise in the past,” he said.

He further said that there were an overwhelming number of students wishing to join the teacher training colleges this year.

“For 170 slots, there were more than 7,500 applicants and later we gave scholarships to additional 170 students,” Lyonpo said.

There were 434 voluntary resignations in 2022, and 224 in 2021.