Secondary tertiary policy

R.I.P?

About a year ago, on the 26th of July 2010, the prime minister launched the Tertiary Education Policy. The policy, one of this government’s most significant declarations so far, aims to enrich tertiary education in the country by streamlining how colleges and universities are planned, funded, registered, licensed and accredited.

The education minister described the 112-page policy as, “… a road map for the development and expansion of tertiary education in the country,” and boasted that it would contribute to making our country a “knowledge hub” and our people an “IT enabled knowledge society.”

In his introduction to the Tertiary Education Policy, the education minister boldly, and rightly, declares that:

Henceforth, this Tertiary Education Policy document, approved by the Lhengye Zhungtshog, will be the definitive instrument to guide all stakeholders, public and private, national and international, in developing and implementing programmes of study, material selection and pedagogical practices, assessment and certification, establishment of facilities and the integrity of all elements related to tertiary education in Bhutan.

So far, so good.

Now, the bad news.

It isn’t even a year old and the Tertiary Education Policy is already coming under attack. Actually, the policy is not being challenged. Instead, it’s being sidelined. It’s being ignored. It’s being snubbed. And that’s much worse than coming under any direct attack.

So who is the culprit that is overstepping the government’s inspired policies? Who is the perpetrator that is disregarding the government’s visionary policies? Who is the delinquent that is ignoring the government’s road map?

Believe it or not, that culprit, that perpetrator, that delinquent is the government itself.

The government has drafted a bill – one that the National Assembly is currently discussing – to establish the Bhutan Institute of Medical Sciences. There’s no doubt that the institute is important. It will benefit our country and our tremendously. So it must be established.

But in doing so, the government must follow its own policies. Otherwise why make policies? Why draw road maps?

The Bhutan Institute of Medical Sciences Bill has completely bypassed the processes outlined in Tertiary Education Policy. And it takes absolutely no notice of many of the policy’s important provisions.

So the Tertiary Education Policy’s credibility and authority are at stake. They’re being compromised by the government, no less.

And what are we doing nothing about it? Nothing.