Embracing Holistic Education: Bhutan Baccalaureate Triumphs in Pilot Schools

In a groundbreaking development heralding a new era in Bhutan’s educational landscape, Education and Skill Development Minister Yeezang De Thapa has lauded the Bhutan Baccalaureate (BB) curriculum for its resounding success in pilot schools. The innovative approach, she emphasized, marks a paradigm shift towards holistic learning methodologies, setting a precedent for educational reform across the nation.

The Bhutan Baccalaureate, a brainchild nurtured through a collaborative effort between the Ministry of Education and Skill Development (MoESD) and the esteemed Druk Gyalpo’s Institute in Pangbisa, Paro, signifies a departure from conventional, academically oriented pedagogies towards a more comprehensive understanding of education. Minister Thapa attributed the program’s effectiveness to its holistic approach, which prioritizes the development of competencies over rote memorization.

Despite prevalent challenges within the educational sphere, such as teacher turnover, Minister Thapa underscored the seamless implementation of the Bhutan Baccalaureate in pilot schools, attributing this success to meticulous planning and dedicated efforts. Presently, 23 pilot schools, strategically distributed across the country, are spearheading the initiative, with each dzongkhag hosting at least one institution, save Thimphu, which boasts three.

Minister Thapa further lauded the cadre of trained educators pivotal to the program’s execution. These educators, having undergone rigorous six-month training sessions, play a pivotal role not only in facilitating the curriculum but also in mentoring and guiding their peers, ensuring a cohesive and effective educational environment. Their unwavering dedication, Minister Thapa emphasized, has been instrumental in realizing positive outcomes within the educational landscape.

Central to the Bhutan Baccalaureate philosophy is its emphasis on competency-based learning, aimed at harnessing students’ individual strengths and providing a comprehensive educational experience. Minister Thapa lamented the current system’s overemphasis on academic achievements, which often overlooks holistic development, underscoring the urgent need for reform.

Highlighting the tangible achievements of the Bhutan Baccalaureate, Minister Thapa pointed to the remarkable success of students from BB schools in international competitions, a testament to the program’s efficacy in nurturing well-rounded individuals poised for global success.

While acknowledging disparities between the existing curriculum and the BB model, Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay defended the former’s credibility, citing endorsements from international experts. However, he stressed the necessity of extensive consultations and deliberations within the education sector before transitioning to the Bhutan Baccalaureate fully. Prime Minister Tobgay emphasized the importance of meticulous planning to ensure a seamless integration of the new curriculum, echoing sentiments echoed by Minister Thapa.

The signing of a Memorandum of Understanding in 2021 between MoESD and Druk Gyalpo’s Institute to transition the Bhutan Baccalaureate into 22 additional schools signifies a significant step towards realizing the program’s broader implementation. As Bhutan embraces the principles of holistic education embodied by the Bhutan Baccalaureate, the nation stands poised to chart a new course towards educational excellence, nurturing a generation of empowered individuals equipped to tackle the challenges of the 21st century and beyond.

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