Education for all

Consider this: Education will get Nu 9,489.130 million for capital investments during the 10th plan. That is almost Nu 9.5 billion to develop the general education system. That works out to almost 13% of the 10th plan’s entire capital budget. That also works out to more than Nu 60,000 for each of the 157,112 students currently in the education system.

I’m happy that the government is investing heavily in education. Education has been drawing a lot of flak lately – standards are perceived to be falling, schools deteriorating, and school enrolment increasing at the expense of quality. So I’m glad that we are set to change our ways. After all, “the future of our country lies in the hands of our youth”.

Now consider this: The Dratshang, our central monk body, will get Nu 23.041 million for capital investments during the 10th plan to improve its education system. That works out to roughly Nu 7,680 for each of the 3000-odd students currently in the monk body. The money is just enough to build the one monastic school, in Mongar, during the 10th plan. And it looks like no other capital work – school repair and expansion, teacher training, curriculum development or the establishment of libraries – is planned for the next five years.

Monastic education has received little attention in the past. And the next five years threatens to be no different. We should reconsider. There are many more students in our monastic schools than we think. And literally all of them come from the poorest of the poor families.

We should also be concerned. If religious schools are sidelined, their students can easily feel left out and become disaffected radicals. This has happened throughout the world, regardless of religion. Let’s learn from their mistakes. Let us develop our monastic schools along with our general schools.

Quality education is important. And it is equally important for young monks. The future of our country lies in their hands too.

 

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  1. i couldn’t agree more. I think it is equally important to focus attention to the Monastic Education as well. I am happy to see this happen.
    I also see the prospect of our Monastic Education opening up to foreigners who are genuinely interested in learning Buddhist philosophy. This is something Bhutan has to offer to the rest of the world.

  2. this is very true – but as the monk body doesn’t get to vote (which I don’t agree with anyhow) then where is the incentive for a government to invest in them?
    As before (and I think this is not totally unfounded), both here and in other countries, where religious institutions used to be the educated ones, being literate and also being essential to everyday life (death, puja, blessing) then there is struggle for power. Once we ‘no longer need them’ to read for us, they get left behind in the education stakes and the new power feels threatened..
    It’s a shame that so far UNICEF seem to be amongst the main agencies to support education – but still it is only restricted to health. They had plan for english support, but so far nothing has come.

  3. Regarding your statement on Monastic education, I couldn’t agree more that monastic education was sidelined in the past but the fact is that the country is trying to include them now and efforts have been made and are being made. Don’t you think its time we focus on the progress first or atleast acknowledge the progress?

    From your blog it appears that as the opposition leader your job is to be a pessimist. When you make your statements are your really considering the reality? Are u aware of the number of schools as opposed to number of monastic schools in bhutan when u are giving allocating these budget figures? For example- “That also works out to more than Nu 60,000 for each of the 157,112 students currently in the education system” – do your seriously believe your estimate here is correct. What about the number of children who will be entering schools as they reach prime age in the next five year years? The budget also takes them into account and not just the number of students currently enrolled. If you consider this not every child is going to have Nu. 60,000. Moreover, there are many children in Bhutan who are still unaccounted for when it comes to education and you are forgetting about them when u make your budget estimate for the 157, 112 students. At this juncture all children in Bhutan regardless of their monastic or schooling background are not going to get enough resources. But that is not because no efforts have been made from concerned sectors.

    Rome was not built in a day and our country as well as our new government will not be able to perform miracles across all sectors of the country at once. It is time that people be supportive of the efforts made. Of course more could be done but there are ways to approach that subject matter rather than simply pointing fingers. It is everyone’s responsibility and your responsibility too Opposition Leader. Rather than simply claiming to still have your Party’s values intact, why don’t you act on it? Given your position there is much more that you can do then blogging. You don’t have to work through the present government, you can directly go to NGOs and offices that are affiliated with all the problems you point out on this website and work with them. If you get the people on your side the government will have to succumb and hopefully act. You seem to be capable of many things and you seem insightful too, it is a pity that you resort to take the “opposition” part of your title too seriously.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I too couldn’t agree with what our Honourable Dhogchog Ghothrip claimed with regard to the sidelining of the monastic body.

    Sir, did you really looked into the properties that the monastic body has as of now and if all these properties are assessed, the value would be more than the total budget outlay of the government. If I am not wrong, monk body represents as board directors in some large companies as they have a huge stake.And finally, how did the monk body managed to have that huge properties? Is it provided by the govt.? then who is the govt?

  5. Anonymous says:

    I agree. I’ve myself been concerned that most of our monks and nuns are where they are in the first place by no choice of their own but by the choice of their parents, who are in turn compelled to impose it on their children because of many disadvantages they face. Some, of course, believe that one member of the family has to be a monk/nun for family rituals etc.

    Concern 1: Are the monastic schools child friendly schools? How are they treated by their teachers? Do they have access to safe drinking water and good sanitation?

    Concern 2: Are the monastic learners learning English and Mathematics besides Dzongkha and Buddhist scriptures? After all, even our lamas and rinpoches look for better opportunities outside the country, don’t they?

    Concern 3: Can we still claim that we have achieved quality basic education for all, with a portion of our children in monastic schools? Are we certain that our monastic learners have access to quality basic education? If not, how do we close the gap?

    Concern 4: In what ways are we developing their individual capability to live dignified/decent lives as adult citizens, within the context of GNH?

  6. Anonymous says:

    Your excellency,I know this is completely off topic,but I wanted to express here my distaste and concern over how BICMA fined BBS for bringing in an open panel discussion regarding the prepaid taxi service system during which one of the participatents supposedly made some personal attacks on a minister. If this is the case then BICMA should fine Bhutantimes too because you can see lots of personal attacks and other anti-Bhutan articles freely allowed by Bhutantimes in their website. I don’t understand why Bhutantime is hell bent on presenting Bhutan the worst way possible to the outside world. One time I heard that Sen.
    Mccain was visiting Bhutan, since it’s such an historic visit by one of the important political figures from America, I thought his visit would be featured in front page in all
    online Bhutanese news medias-but I was sad and disappointed to notice that all I could see on Bhutantimes was news on refugees,refugees and more refugees. That particular incident in itself was enough for me to conclude that Bhutantimes is not at all happy with the progress of Bhutan. I mean there’s nothing wrong in mentioning about the refugees-weather we like it or not this is the hard facts of today’s bhutan-but bhutantimes literally appears to be the spokeperson of the refugees while completely forgetting their so called fair and balanced policy. While bhutantimes religiously keeps refugees news raging,on the other hand the other news medias like kuenselonline appears to be treating the word refugee like a taboo.I have never seen any news or articles on refugees on kuenselonline. I think both kuneselonline and bhutantimes should find a middleway in reporting their news,keeping in mind the best intersest of the people and the country. Sorry if offended by this comment-my opinion is mostly based on what I read and know from online news medias like kuenselonline.bt and bhutantimes.com-I’ve been living out of Bhutan for quite some time now.But I’m a concerned Bhutanese citizen who want the best for my country.

  7. For the confused Anonymous, who Posted on January 24, regarding the Bhutanese media:
    Please note that Bhutanitmes.com is different from Bhutantimes.bt, the latter being the authentic site.

    Bhutantimes.com is a mere news aggregator, something any web savvy individual can create. I hope this brings you peace.

    Try http://www.bhutantimes.bt

  8. thank you pdrukpa. It certainly did bring peace.

  9. ur excellency.i do agree that buddhist country shouldn’t sideline the beholder of our religion. As of my knowledge our gelongs are most previlaged citizens of our country. they dont have to bother about accomodation and fooding, basic necessity of life. One of my cousin told me that he is not able to work as an attendant and want to join monk body. He prefers to be a gelong not because of his faith in religion but freedom. today we see our sacrad red colour flying to all avenues. they do have the update of latest movies. Here m not trying to blame them but our system. they are the upholders of our faith and should’nt afford to shake with metallic sounds. Now providing lot more facilities would make them more vulnurable to worldliness. Here i donnot mean to all monastic personnals but to some. Firstly the system has to be corrected.
    thank you

  10. Yes I too agree with HE the Dogcho Gothrip.
    Gelongs are the ones who afterwards bless the country and her inhabitants.Therefore we should respect them care for them and educate them at the highist level. Because a Gelong is a part of Gedoen to whom we refuge for the present life and the next life as well.

  11. I too agree with the honourable Dokcho Gothrip. A gelong is a part of Gayduen to whom we refuge for the present and the future life as well. So they have to have good care and learning to their extreme high level. Thanks

  12. yes your HE, i do agree with you.i have little background on the monastic education system of the country.on an average,all monks came from the less privileged background if we just dig their background.the system is still back to the 16th century.
    in this regard,the modern education to the monks is necessary.with the advent of the modern education in the country,the monastic body was completely ignored for the past decades and this is the time to up bring the system to the young monks who are the young ambassadors of the country to the other parts of the world.
    the time has come for all us to receive the initiations and all stuffs from the foreigners. we’ve many Buddhist scholars in the country who don’t ‘ve modern education and remained not properly recognized.
    so it is duty of the government to implement the proper system of monastic education since the young monks are also the future nation builders and the the ambassadors of the country…..may god bless them all!!!!

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