Government to Hire 100 Indian Teachers to Tackle STEM Shortages

In a move aimed at addressing the pressing shortage of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) teachers across Bhutan, the government has announced plans to recruit an additional 100 expatriate teachers from India starting July 2024. This decision, unveiled by Education and Skill Development Minister Yeezang De Thapa, comes in response to mounting concerns raised by lawmakers regarding the scarcity of qualified educators in these crucial fields.

The initiative, detailed in a parliamentary session prompted by Dophuchen-Tading MP Ugyen Lama, targets specific deficits within the STEM disciplines across the country’s 499 public schools. Minister Thapa specified that the recruitment drive will focus on filling critical gaps, including 35 Mathematics teachers, 18 Physics teachers, 19 Chemistry teachers, and 28 ICT (Information and Communication Technology) teachers.

“The shortage of STEM teachers stands at 1,110, encompassing significant gaps in Mathematics, ICT, Physics, and Chemistry,” Minister Thapa disclosed, underscoring the severity of the issue. As of June this year, the immediate shortfall amounted to 135 teachers, with Mathematics and ICT bearing the brunt of the deficit.

Highlighting the government’s multifaceted approach, Minister Thapa noted that 18 local teachers completing their Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) will soon join the workforce alongside the expatriate recruits. This combined effort aims to reduce the current shortage to 118 teachers, with expectations to fully meet demand by next year.

MP Ugyen Lama emphasized the urgency of the situation, citing examples such as Tashithang Middle Secondary School, where idle science laboratories underscored the impact of teacher shortages on practical education. Minister Thapa assured that such facilities would be fully equipped by the 2024-2025 fiscal year, addressing past constraints that hindered educational resources.

The minister also addressed broader staffing challenges within Bhutan’s educational sector, revealing that the ministry faced a deficit of 1,263 teachers in 2023. Despite recruiting 187 Bachelor of Education (B.Ed) graduates earlier this year and hiring 646 contract teachers from March to June, the ongoing attrition has posed ongoing challenges.

Khamdang-Ramjar MP Namgay Dorji echoed concerns over teacher retention, particularly in rural areas, highlighting its detrimental impact on educational quality. He criticized the timing of professional development programs, which he argued disrupts teaching continuity.

Looking ahead, Minister Thapa reaffirmed the government’s commitment to bolstering Bhutan’s educational infrastructure, pledging concerted efforts to stabilize staffing levels and enhance learning environments nationwide.

As Bhutan navigates these educational challenges, the recruitment of expatriate teachers represents a pivotal step towards fortifying STEM education and ensuring equitable access to quality learning opportunities for all students across the kingdom.

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