Showing posts with label Ministry of Education. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ministry of Education. Show all posts

26 December 2019

How Better School Toilets Can Influence Better Public Toilet

Condition of Public toilets of a country is a perfect reflection of its school toilets. We cannot pretend to be surprised to see a scandalising public toilet when we haven’t paid attention to school toilets, where the foundation is built. As is school toilet, so shall public toilet be.

Considering the conditions of school toilets during our school days in the ’90s, we have come a long way but in comparison to the outside world, we are nowhere. There are some school toilet that could infect you just by looking at their pictures, and you can imagine children using them. I personally conclude that the cleanliness of school toilet depends absolutely on the cleanliness of the school leadership.

It’s not the lack of facility but the misuse and negligence of the facility, which can be attributed to a general lack of social ethics in the culture of the school

"The Culture of any organization is shaped by the worst behavior the leader is willing to tolerate.”-Steve Gruenert and Todd Whitaker
At home, everyone knows they need to flush after using the toilet, that shoving a solid thing down the toilet would cause blockage, and that when the toilet door is falling apart one needs to nail it back or tell someone to do it, but what happens to that sense of responsibility when a child comes to school? Where does it disappear? What makes them so carefree and mindless? 

Signing MoU with Ministry of Education

This can be best explained as herd mentality, wherein we see that even a well-behaved child tends to be as mindless as the rest of the students. Basically, it’s a crowd of good youths not being good enough collectively. It usually happens among animals and turns out we are animals too. But the good news is that we can influence that herd mentality and turn things around just by influencing a small part of of the group. Five per cent to be precise. And that’s perhaps what we call the building of culture. We focus on the golden five per cent. We have hope. 

However, we need better toilets to make the new beginning but looking at the condition of toilets in schools across the country, we seemed to need a lot of time and lot of money just to set the stage for a new beginning. We can neither afford that much time nor have that amount of money. Therefore, we needed a smart solution to upgrade the old toilets, in record time and at the lowest cost possible. On top of that, the toilet must be resilient enough to withstand the misuse and survive to see the rise of new toilet culture. 

That’s when SATO technology came into the picture. It was the silver bullet we found. Bhutan Toilet Org partnered with UNICEF Bhutan and Ministry of Education to upgrade all old school toilet by 2020 end. From the data available from five Dzongkhag’s we have completed, we are looking at close to 3000 units of toilets at Nu.9 million. This would have cost government over Nu. 240 million if done in a conventional way. 

By the end of 2020, we are expecting to get rid of all pit latrines and aqua privy toilets from the school and have equity in terms of toilet facility across all schools. That’s when we shall see the beginning of a complete shift in the herd mentality. If this goes according to the plan, then in the next five to ten years, public toilets across the country will be in perfect conditions even without caretakers. 

Once school toilet is upgraded, the first great step schools can take toward building good toilet culture in school is by letting teacher share toilet with the students. 

SATO technology is donated to Bhutan Toilet Org by Lixil Japan through Junior Chamber International (JCI). 

04 February 2019

Two Precious Years to Mature- by Removing Class X Cutoff Point

(Re-sharing my facebook post made on Feb 4, 2019) 

Unlike in the past, class X graduates are now barely 14-16 years old. When such young teenagers don’t qualify to study in class XI and if their family can’t afford them private school education then they have to go out trying to make a living on their own. 

They are not yet ready to make good decisions for themselves, and they are not physically ready for laborious jobs or worse for marriage. But once out of the school, they are on their own and vulnerable to all sorts of social ills and abuses. We all know that.

Government allowing them to stay two more years in the school, by sending to to class XI, is a blessing of two precious years to grow, mature and become more ready to face the world. 

There are many examples of people who went to private schools after X because of their bad results, and had their awakening in the two years, thereafter acing their class XII exam and doing so well in life now. Therefore, these two precious years are vital in allowing children to grow from child to young adult. Not everyone will make the best of it but what’s important is the opportunity that must be there. 

Talking about the whole cost of giving scholarship to thousands of otherwise disqualified candicdates, we must remember that it’s a priceless investment in our national Human Resources Development. Of course, like Tenzing Lamsang suggested, we could reduce pressure on the cost by giving it just to the needy one. But at the end everything will be worth it.

Constitutional or Not, In my opinion, without trying to play with legal words (which I don’t know), if Constitution could speak it would say, “I’m so happy that you did more than what I thought would be possible.”

Simple example could be that of our forest cover, we are required to keep 60% of our country under forest covered, but having 71% is not unconstitutional. It’s rather a pride. So is the move to give free education till XII.

Some are questioning what this move would do to the quality of education. Well, rethink equality of education. What schools and teachers can do to transform these children into good human beings (without caring about their exam marks) will determine the quality of education. We often mess up in thinking that the exam marks determine the quality of a human begin. We must stop that.

19 February 2014

Changing 200 Lives

10,659 students appeared class X examination in December 2013, of which 95.93% (10,225) passed the exam. Of course there is hardly any excitement in passing class X because there is a huge gap between passing the exam and qualifying for class XI. While you can pass with just 35% it take 61% to make it to class XI this year.

While the 4.07% of students who fail could repeat in government school, over 5000 students who passed but couldn't score qualification mark are left to their own fate. For some it could be the end of their educational journey.

I don't really understand the Maths and Science behind setting the cut off point at certain percent, so I am assuming that it's fixed based on the available seats in government schools. If that's the case, and hopefully should be, what happens to the seats of those students who qualified for government school but for some reason choose to study in private schools?

Private school business is booming with world class strategies. Within the last few year they have shifted from school for disqualified students to school for toppers. With very welcoming infrastructure and unique systems in place private school are attracting parents and students alike. It has become a culture over the last few year for the brilliant students to leave for private school after class X mostly on scholarship. There are also many students who despite qualifying for free education in government school still opt to pay heavy fees and study in private school.

This trend, I humbly assume, will at least create 200 vacancies in government schools, or twice more. Keeping these seats empty has no benefit for the government. However if these seats are gifted as scholarship to 200 disqualified students who are socially very good, emotionally very intelligent but economically challenged, it can be a national investment. It will be an acknowledgement for being a good human being. They may go grow up to change this country for better. In them we might get the future prime minister of Bhutan. Education should not be limited to those who do well in exam.

Dear Education Ministry, Please use this opportunity to change at least 200 lives.

14 February 2014

Wasting Second Chance

The following news last year sounded like a piece of soothing music. It was something I always wished for. I was so happy for my students who try so hard, for the students who come from difficult economic background, for the students whose luck run out when it's most needed. All of them are going to have a second chance now.
"The government has decided to allow students, who fail in classes X and XII board examinations to repeat once in the same school from the next academic year." -Kuensel 2013, Nov
 “What we're doing is very little and of course there are risks involved, but that won't stop us from giving a second chance to students, who’re genuinely in need of a second chance to complete their schooling,” -Education Minister 
Now the board exam results are declared. There are students with excellent marks. There are ones who just made it. There are ones who missed by few marks and there are the ones who failed clearly. And suddenly my excitement about the 'second chance' disappeared. I was looking at my school result sheet and studying the marks. I was feeling differently for different groups of students: Happy for the ones on the top of the list, sorry for the middle ones, and upset with bottom of the list.
It's more upsetting to realise that only the ones who failed are going to get the second chance. There could be some students with serious learning difficulties, otherwise failing is a very difficult thing to do in board exams with pass percent of just 40% for XII and 35% X. It only means they didn't bother much (Very evident from the result sheet I am holding).
If anybody deserves second chance it the group of students who passed the exam but failed to clear the qualifying mark by few points. They are the ones who tried. Their efforts should be acknowledged by a second chance. But the policy does not allow this.
However, the policy would be reviewed from time to time when necessary, so that the “privilege is utilised judiciously.”   -Education Minister
I am hopeful that with one of implementation we would realize the flaw in it and consider better ways so that the second chances are not wasted.

22 November 2013

iSherig 2018

Today my team presented the final draft of ICT Master Plan 2018, which we branded as iSherig, to the Education minister, Secretary, Directors, and heads of all the relevant organizations including private sector. We have worked on it for the last four months and have scanned throught three round table meetings. The feedback on the final draft will be further discussed and the Report will be published by mid December 2013.

The following is an illustration of what we are hoping to achieve by the end of first five years of implementation of iSherig, i.e. 2018. I hope to share some more details on iSherig in near future.
iSherig 2018

17 August 2013

Education ICT Master Plan 2013-2018

The first Education ICT Master Plan is in the making and I am proud to a part of the team. We began right after the election and will be working on it till November. Last year MoIC and IDA International Singapore did the first eGovernment Master Plan and the next phase is going down to work on the details for a 5-year ICT plan for specific sectors, of which education is one of these.

Our team underwent eight days training together provided by IDA International experts, some of whom were the same people who work on the first Singapore ICT Master Plan in 1990s. Their presence was an inspiration knowing their successful history in transforming Singapore.

The education team started with 15 of us, including MOE officers, DEOs, principals and teachers like myself. Additional resource persons were added to our group along the way when we realized we needed more people with specialized knowledge in some key areas. We began working independently with two Singaporean consultants, and an Advisor and in
over two weeks we came up with the first draft. It was presented to a round table meeting chaired by Madam Secretary and attended by directors of different departments and other stakeholders, including private sectors. It was again presented to Education Minister in a separate meeting. We learnt much from the wisdom of these senior stakeholders of the education sector during these meetings.

Training Period- With Ms. Kar Joo Tan. I am the one sleeping right in front.
The ICT Master Plan aims to rationalize and streamline various ICT projects and activities under the Ministry of Education for implementation over the next five years. It will provide us with a broad holistic vision of how best to harness the power of ICT for teaching and learning.

The work has just begun. Much of the input during the first two weeks were based on our assumptions. Therefore the next month will be invested in validating the facts and for data collection. Upon accumulation of all the require data resources we will sit down to define specific projects and programs, estimate budgets, and specify timeline. Broadly, we are looking at three main areas (1) how to strengthen the integration of ICT into curriculum, pedagogy and assessment, (2) how to enhance the ICT capacity of teachers, students and support staff, and (3) what type of nationwide education and learning ICT infrastructure will be necessary to support these plans.

I am glad to be part of this important project that will help lay the foundation for a quality and relevant education in the country. If you have any idea that may be useful for The Education ICT Master Plan, we will be happy to go through it. But remember this is a personal blog and views expressed here are my personal and not reflective of my team or the Education Ministry.

28 January 2013

Dzongkha Teachers and Computers

You have no idea what it means to dare teaching twenty Dzongkha teachers how to use computer but I am not new to this challenge. This batch of language teachers we have in Punakha Center mostly began their career before many parents fell in love and some talks about my grandfather being their contemporary. Now imagine how I would look standing there doing this job of teaching them.
We were never trained to handle this nor the course was designed to suit them. The computers are just the ones we are using-everything on the machine is in English and even the text book and the presentation slides are in English. The problem is not with them, they are highly educated and very confident and ready to learn. The issue is with the computer- they'd heard a lot about this super machine but they are upset that the machine is just another stupid box that won't understand Dzongkha. I assured them that computer can be programmed to display everything in Dzongkha but the problem is I was not trained enough to do so much and rest didn't have the passion. (Point to be noted, My lord lol)
The best adjustment we can do for them was to install Dzongkha Unicode on their computers so that they could at least used computer to type text in Dzongkha. It's a simple two part process; first install Dzongkha Keyboard and then install Dzongkha Fonts followed by a few steps to Add Dzongkha Keyboard on Language Bar but to do it on so many computer took me and my partner Tshewang Rinzin one precious hour.
That's the beginning of another problem; there are a few teachers who never went to Dzongkha Unicode training and therefore they need another course to understand what we just did. Without Dzongkha characters printed on the keyboard it takes ages to get a word on the screen. (Point to be noted, My lord lol)
By afternoon we made some progress with some people and rest are waiting for me to bring them the printed copy of Dzongkha Keyboard tomorrow. But like all the batches we met we had fun being mischievous and with Dzongkha teacher like them I never forget to share my dirty jokes and make them cough their doma out. During the breaks I listen to their wisdom and bother them with my endless questions on history. I am looking forward to eight more days with them!

Note: This is not intended to class whole species of Dzongkha Teachers in Bhutan as alien to English language or computers, I am just talking about this group of senior teachers who didn't go to English medium school and therefore resulting in the gap. Dzongkha Teachers now are highly versatile, they have mastery over Dzongkha and does equally well in English- and to surprise the hell out of all my vice principal,Lop Melam, who is also a Dzongkha Teacher is an expert in both computer hardware and software including Mac stuffs.

28 October 2012

Understanding 'Educating for GNH'

Over 102 teachers in Wangdue attended the workshop on 'Educating for GNH' in my school since yesterday. I wasn't among the seven who were supposed to attend from our school but by some last minute twists three of our representatives couldn't make it giving me an easy entry. I handed over my charges as the second in command of Examination committee to a colleague and joined the workshop.
I lost my much awaited weekends by agreeing to attend the four day course over the weekend but after hours into the course I realized I have made a right decision. I wasn't ignorant about the concept of educating for GNH, I was rather bombarded with too many information from third party sources that I failed to appreciate it, perhaps that's what happened with many people. And perhaps that's why many were cynical about it. For me this workshop was all about filtering information, putting them in order and making sense out of them, and I succeeded right away. The concept is very simple and workable.
With the project we are identifying the possible values we are imparting through any subject and naming those values, because when we have a name then we have at least something less abstract to stress on. However, core of it is letting students find purpose in whatever they are learning so that they find purpose in their lives. Our roles are spelled out as the most important factor in their lives, we are to create the bestest conditions, and to make sure our schools have the right environment that is sensitive to both their physical and psychological needs and that we teachers are both the "message and the medium".

One of the three facilitators in my room is my physics teachers from Drukgyel, Mr Kinley Gyeltshen. He is such a wonderful person to listen to, he can edutain the adults as much as he did his magic on us as young students back in 1999.

07 April 2011

Online Question Bank- My broken dream

Months of excitement and planning ended this afternoon after I saw the news in Kuensel. The online question bank that my ministry is planning to come up later this year was my dream project since last year. I have set up a blog last winter to inspire myself, discussed the idea with my friend at Bhutan Web Hosting Solution for a very dynamic website, and consulted my uncle for sources of fund.

Rough Sketch of broken dream
Coining the web address itself took me days. Every address I tried seemed to be booked and finally I landed up with bhutanquestionbank. I sketched a rough logo and sent it out to Phuba Namgay, a Bhutanese painter abroad, for giving it a professional touch. He agreed to do it for me after he is done with his wife Linda’s book promotion.

I sat down with my jobless brother, who is expected to work fulltime on the site after it is launched, and drew the blueprint. I encouraged him to work on it, so that his three years of computer studies comes to some work. My wife looked at my proposal and found it so promising that she agreed to help me through. I have everything ready except the fund it will require, which of course it planned out as well.

But now with the dream shattered, I have nothing to worry about except my brother’s job. I am surprise my ministry is going to pump in Nu.700,000 for the site alone and then additional fund for training, whatever that means. I only wish if they could offer me the project, because I have the passion. Passion to move on without having to push. Hope the ePortal won’t go to sleep after a while like most other websites, without me!