Bhutan's recently achieved its long time goal of Universal Primary Education. The gross enrolment rate in primary education was 106% in 2007. There is near gender equality (93%). The completion rate of primary education was 87%. Nevertheless, Bhutan needs to:
• Continue improving quality of primary education;
• Raise learning and test scores of pupils; and
• Achieve full gender equality in primary education.
From 2002 to 2006, students attending secondary schools increased by 37 %. A similar increase in numbers is expected from 2007 to 2012. The rapid growth of education system presents several challenges:
• Training of teachers: Urban schools are generally overcrowded with 45 students per class while the rural schools suffer from a shortage of teachers.
• Inadequate resources for achieving universal primary education and for expanding secondary education.
• Weak institutional capacity at the central, district and school levels to effectively manage growth of primary and secondary education systems.
• Weak monitoring of learning through testing.
• Limited role of the private sector.
• Students lack of preparedness for entering into the labor market.
The Royal Government of Bhutan is addressing these challenges through training of teachers, upgrading infrastructure, revising the curriculum, and increasing instructional time. In addition, the government has established a new assessment system to monitor and evaluate education quality over time.
World Bank’s Education Development project supports Bhutan's education development program to expand access to primary and secondary education, and improve educational quality at all levels. This program is underpinned by the education sector strategy for achieving Bhutan's Vision 20/20 which aims to improve quality of life of its citizens.
With the World Bank’s support, Bhutan just completed The Second Education Project which assisted in building and strengthening physical and institutional capacity for basic education. This enabled more children, particularly in rural areas, to receive high quality education. The main results were:
- 29 percent increase in the gross enrollment rate for basic education;
- Increase in the passing scores in grade 6 and 8 from 83% in 1998 to 98% in 2004;
- increased availability of teaching learning materials;
- improved teacher training and improvements to in-service teacher training;
- strengthened management and monitoring as well as better decentralized participatory planning; and
- increase in the number of hostel places for girls
The Bank also provides on-demand Technical Assistance in the areas of quality of education, learning assessments, and youth and employment.