Education in Bhutan

History Of Education In Bhutan

Bhutan is one of the few countries that provide free health care and free education. Until the 1950s, formal education available to Bhutanese students was only through Buddhist monasteries. The most important modern development in education occurred during the first development plan when about 108 schools were in operation. Western-style education was introduced to Bhutan during the reign of Ugyen Wangchuck. Some elementary, secondary, and high schools are boarding schools. The curriculum set by the National Board of Secondary Education included English, Mathematics, and Dzongkha. English is used as the language of instruction throughout the middle and high school systems, and the students also learn social studies, history, geography, and science. The only college in Bhutan was Sherubtse College in Kanglong that was established in 1983 as a three-year degree.  

Journey of education in Bhutan.

Established schools in Bhutan

Education is recognized as a basic right and a requirement for achieving the country’s social, cultural, and economic goals within the framework of the national vision in the wider range. Education in Bhutan includes monastic and modern education, both of which have the same priority. Up until the 1950s, there was only training in monasteries in Bhutan. While monastic education continues to play an important role, Western education has expanded and is now available across the country. Access to basic education has become an inalienable right of all Bhutanese and the key to most of the nation’s ambitions. The education policy of the Royal Government of Bhutan is to offer all citizens free, high-quality basic education of at least 11 years.

Gongsar Ugyen Wangchuck, the first king of Bhutan, started the modern education system when 46 children were sent to India for Western education and access to the world in 1914. The first group of students in 1914 succeeded in this policy, but they studied in Hindi middle schools. The language of instruction was later changed from Hindi to English in 1961. Many Indian teachers also came to Bhutan to teach Bhutanese students. In 1961, students were also sent to the main Anglo-Indian educational institution in India, and these students played a very important role in shaping modern Bhutan. Efforts have been made to improve the education of women, and girls account for 45% of primary school enrollment. However, the overall literacy rate for women is still very low and lags far behind that for men. In 1991, Bhutan had 209 schools altogether, including 22 monastic schools, schools for Tibetan refugees, and six technical schools. There was at the highest level one junior college, two teacher training colleges, and one-degree college which was affiliated to the university at Delhi in India. Many teachers from India are employed in Bhutan.

New Education Policy in Bhutan

How To Be Implemented

Currently, Bhutan has an overall literacy rate of 71.4% and a youth literacy rate of more than 93%. Despite these numbers, Bhutan’s education system today has to keep pace with the ever-changing world of the 21st century. As you can see it will be more digital from now on and with advanced technologies and globalization. This in turn requires the implementation of a new educational policy in Bhutan.

On the occasion of the 113 on December 17, 2020, His Majesty the Fifth Druk Gyalpo of Bhutan, Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck, implemented the following guidelines in the education system of Bhutan:

1.Education Curriculum Reform To date

Help students acquire knowledge and skills

Educational Curriculum Reform To date, the Ministry of Education has made excellent efforts to introduce changes in Bhutan’s education system, and with this in mind, it is best to bring the needs and challenges of the curriculum structure. Technological and social learning skills need to be integrated instead of continuing to focus on textbooks and content. This will help students think critically and creatively. This also helps students acquire knowledge and skills that are relevant even after graduation. 

2.Technological Learning

Exposure To well-advanced technological classroom 

Students need to use the available technologies, adapt to global best practices, and create a good teaching-learning environment. Technology is an important factor for social progress in the digital generation. It is important to have a technology class where students can keep up with progress and both teachers and students can keep in close contact with each other.

3.Aim For The Highest Education Standards

Logo of Royal University of Bhutan

Instead of settling for contemporary progress in the past, it’s always important to push the standards and break them every year. Bhutan’s education policy in 2021 aims to achieve the highest possible level of education. Rather than comparing itself to countries taking up with them, Bhutan needs to lead by example and set standards.

Ministry of education in Bhutan

Management and administration of education

The Ministry of Education (MoE) has administrative, financial, and academic control over primary, secondary, and tertiary education (including universities), distance learning, and the training of primary school teachers. The education system is organized on four levels. The topmost part of the national structure is the Minister of Education. Although the Department of Education plans and administers the system as a whole, responsibility for controlling and managing the previous three levels is given to a chief director who is assisted by the department heads. As part of recent efforts to decentralize education services, the previous regions (three) have been divided into six divisions and renamed into divisions, each headed by a division head. With the introduction of the FPE policy, an attempt was made to improve the management of the education system by defining districts into zones. Each zone is overseen by a Primary Education Advisor (PEA) with a maximum number of schools of up to 15 and a teacher development center in each zone. They are expected to perform both control and oversight functions in schools. Two autonomous institutions greatly contribute to education in the country. Two other ministries are also involved in education on a smaller scale. These are the Ministry of Gender and Community Services, which is responsible for early childhood education and adult liter. The Ministry of Labour is responsible for technical education and vocational education and training.


Education is an important factor for personal development and the whole country. Designing education policy is not an easy task, especially when the world is growing rapidly in terms of digital technology. The education policy of the Royal Government of Bhutan is to offer a minimum of nine years, free quality basic education to all its citizens. Bhutan is close to achieving universal primary education with an adjusted net enrolment rate of 96.5 percent as of 2019. However, challenges continue to provide access to education to hard-to-reach areas, provide inclusive education, and improve the quality of education. Each country has its own goals and guidelines that ultimately point to better education. 

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