We have been lately talking about inclusive education in Bhutan and some of the schools have already been modified to accommodate children with varying abilities in the same learning environment. But no matter how accessible the general infrastructures of the school might be, or how well trained are the teachers dealing with students with special needs, I think the goal of inclusive education cannot be achieved if the school curriculum is not inclusive. When we talk about inclusive education, people mostly think about only accessible physical infrastructures within the school campus and disabled-friendly facilities and services. But we have never thought of the curriculum which is the backbone of formal education system in the country. I feel that our school curriculum is very rigid at the moment. We are expected to learn what is prescribed in the textbooks and not what we are good at or what we love doing. When the curriculum is developed, the needs of persons with disabilities especially the visually impaired children are never considered. As a result, the curriculum is largely visual-based and hence, the visually impaired children are deprived of the opportunity to participate equally in the classroom.
Television has become an integral part of our life at home today. It has become so ubiquitous across the globe that it is hard to imagine life without it. Nowadays, most of us have at least two to three television sets at home. The advent of television era has definitely changed the world and how we view it. While television has opened our door to the outside world, it comes with both necessary and unnecessary channels. Just with the point and the click of a button, the viewing options are endless. There are literarily hundreds of channels to choose from. Cartoons, cooking shows, news and other entertainment shows fill up the airwaves. With so many channels available to turn to, choosing the appropriate channels especially for children is increasingly becoming a concern. Some studies have indicated that television is bad for children since it often promotes violence and aggression, be it through cartoons or movies.
There is a wave of excitement in my family as my youngest son Rigden Subba began his much-awaited academic journey since yesterday. Till now he has been his mother’s best companion at home, living with full of childish innocence and smiles. So the first day was certainly a strange experience for him. Although he had promised that he would not cry in school as his elder brother had done on his first day in school four years ago, it seems he did silently shed some tears on the way back home yesterday. I am sure he must have felt very strange in that new environment. For now, my wife is giving him company in the school, waiting for him all day and helping him have lunch or go to toilet during the intervals. He has been told that after a while, he has to be alone and that his mother will only come to get him home after the school hours. He has accepted this upcoming ordeal that he has to face. I am sure he will soon learn to be independent especially after he gets familiar with the environment and his friends. The problem with him right now is that he is normally a silent boy and that he doesn’t easily mingle with others. So, most of the time, it seems he is seen alone in the classroom. But with the passage of time, I hope he would gain some confidence to open up and interact with others.
Our school curriculum is mostly academic-based and the textbooks contain only theories and logic which are not always applicable in our daily life. In addition to geography, history, science, economics and language studies, there are many things we need to know which are equally important for our success and wellbeing. But sadly, it seems we are missing them in our school curricula today. I may not be absolutely right but I feel following are some of the things we should learn while we are in the school in addition to existing subjects.
18th December is the annual Judgment Day for students throughout Bhutan. It’s a big day for both students and their parents because this is the day which all of us have been anxiously waiting for. It’s the day on which our children who go to school harvest the outcome of their year-long hard-work and struggle and it’s the day for parents to find out whether what they have invested in their children’s education for one year has borne any fruit. After all, it’s the day which decides the next move of our children. But if you are not cautious enough, a small typing error on the results sheet of your child, which the school authorities attribute to the computer, can mar the academic performances of your child.