Lack of ICT facilities affect implementation of New Normal Curriculum

The education ministry’s New Normal Curriculum from this academic session has been one of the biggest reforms in ages in the education system. Using ICT infrastructure, the new curriculum aims to go beyond textbooks and classrooms, and also maintain uninterrupted teaching and learning. However, the change is not without shortcomings.

Lungtenzampa Middle Secondary School in Thimphu has almost all the necessary facilities to start with the new normal curriculum, except for better internet connectivity. And so, the functioning of the school hasn’t changed much.

Karma Wangdi, the Vice Principal of the school said the internet speed in the school is only 15 MB. When teachers use it for about 37 sections of students from classes VII to X, the internet becomes too slow.

“Therefore, there is a need to improve the bandwidth of the internet,” he said.

Besides, a teacher in the school Tshering said that there is a need for smart TVs in the school which will make teaching and learning feasible in line with the new curriculum.

Students also said if they can fully implement the new curriculum, it will help them a lot as learning becomes fun and much easier.

“Workload can be heavy sometimes. But most of the time it is quite easy, the teachers can explain very well and you can understand a lot,” said Namgay Rigphel Wangchuk, a student.

The condition is worse in remote schools. While most schools lack computer labs, poor or lack of internet connectivity has aggravated the execution of the new system.

According to Jamba Gyeltshen, a teacher at Khasadrapchu Middle Secondary School in Thimphu, teachers, especially those who teach history, have to depend on whatever materials are available online. But without good internet connectivity, he said the challenges pile up and it also becomes difficult to manage the classroom teaching.

“Now textbook is only used as a reference. We have no idea about what to learn and what not to. Moreover, we are not used to the new system and thus, it takes time to understand the approach well,” said Minjur Dorji, a student of Khasadrapchu MS School.

The Department of Curriculum and Professional Development, erstwhile Royal Education Council, started developing the new curriculum in 2016. And the new system encourages online teaching and learning, besides the regular teaching and learning experience.

The new system will also facilitate uninterrupted lessons, even during emergencies. However, without adequate facilities, most teachers say, it is difficult to fully implement the new system.

Among many schools in remote Bhutan where ICT facilities are yet to fully materials, one is Tashilakha Primary School under Chhukha.

The Principal of the school, Chheoku Dorji said let alone ICT facilities, they don’t even have a good internet connection.

“Most of our teachers teach using their own devices as we don’t have internet connectivity. Our fingers are crossed that we will soon receive the facilities.

And this, one of the teachers in the school, Tshering Tenzin, said would expedite the teaching and learning process.

Of Nu 15bn the education ministry got this financial year, more than Nu 150 M has been allocated for the Education Flagship Programme, which supports ICT laboratory and procurement of computers among others. However, going by the Education Minister Jai Bir Rai, it might take years to fully equip every school with ICT facilities.

“Three years, five years down the line, I think our children will have all these gadgets – our children will have all these ICT facilities. Then, thereafter, we have to take of what we are expected to do.”

The minister added that today, at least 60 per cent of schools in the country have basic ICT facilities.

The new normal curriculum was designed to empower learners with intellectual, social, behavioural and digital competencies. However, without all the required facilities in place, only time will tell, how effective the change would be.

Karma Wangdi

Edited by Chayku

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