Education system in Bhutan

The book titled, “Education in Bhutan” is the documentation on the development of education system in Bhutan

The word “education system” usually refers to public, rather than private, education, and more specifically, kindergarten through high school programs. The lowest recognized form of “education system” is schools or school districts, and the largest is countries. Education systems are also thought to exist in states.

Simply described, an education system includes everything involved in educating public school students at the federal, state, and local levels:

  • Regulations, policies, and laws.
  • Processes for determining funding levels, as well as public funding, resource allocations, and procedures for calculating funding levels.
  • Administrative offices, school facilities, and transportation vehicles are all located in the state and district.
  • Employee benefits, human resources, staffing, contracts, and remuneration.
  • Books, laptops, instructional aids, and other learning tools are all available.
  • And, of course, there are a slew of other factors.

While the word “education system” is commonly used in the news media and public discourse, it can be difficult to know what it means when it is used without qualification, specific instances, or more explanation. Education systems, like the teaching profession, are by their very nature complicated and multifaceted, and the obstacles involved in reforming or enhancing them can be just as complex and multifaceted.

Even improvements that appear to be clear, simple, or quickly accomplished may, in reality, necessitate complex state policy changes, union contract negotiations, school scheduling changes, or a slew of other variables.

When did education begin in Bhutan?

       Chari monastery is Bhutan’s first monastic educational institute

Bhutan was a late adopter of modern schooling. Monastic education was the only type of education in Bhutan prior to its establishment. Although informal religious discussions have been held in Bhutan since the beginning of Buddhism, organized monastic instruction began in 1622 with the founding of the formal monk body at Chari in Thimphu. Young monks Come to learn from their elders. They memorized holy scriptures verse by verse. It wasn’t a priority for them to understand the verses until they reached higher levels. The major goal of religious education was to help people grow spiritually. Monastic schools have played an essential part in the lives of individuals since the 8th century, and this tradition continues today. 

Schooling in Bhutan began in 1913, when Gongzin Ugyen Dorji, on the orders of Gongsa Ugyen Wangchuck, the first monarch of Bhutan, established the first modern school in Haa. It was principally motivated by the desire to build national human resource capability and to propel the country’s economic development initiatives. Despite the fact that it was established in 1913, the system is still relatively new, as the systematic development of modern school education only began in 1961 with the implementation of the First Five Year Development Plan. Despite its late start, Bhutanese education has experienced unprecedented growth and progress over the last six decades.

At both the national and institutional levels, providing high-quality education that is contextually relevant and meaningful in order to prepare students with 21st-century skills of creativity, innovation, and intellect is a top goal. The challenges facing Bhutan’s school education system, on the other hand, are equally enormous and titanic. Inadequate infrastructure facilities and financial resources to sustain high standards of teaching and learning are among the constraints.

Bhutan’s School Education History

          Gongzim Uygen Dorji Higher Secondary School the first school of Bhutan

The beginnings of modern education in Bhutan may be dated back less than a century. In 1914, 46 Bhutanese boys moved to India to study at a mission school in Kalimpong. In the same year, on the orders of Gongsa Ugyen Wangchuck, the first modern school was established in Haa by Gongzin Ugyen Dorji, the first king of Bhutan’s advisor and ambassador. The main curriculum included Hindi, English, Arithmetic, and Dzongkha (in its non-classical form).

In 1915, a second school was established in Wangdicholing, Bumthang, for Crown Prince Jigme Wangchuck and his attendants’ children. During the winter, this school relocated to the Kuenga Rabten palace in Trongsa. By 1919–1920, the school in Haa had 28 students and the school in Bumthang had 21 students. Towards the end of the reign of the Second King Jigme Wangchuck (1926–1952), several schools were built.

The foundation of schools in Haa and Bumthang followed by the establishment of schools in southern Dzongkhags. Nar Bahadur Pradhan, a prominent figure in Chargharey hamlet, now known as Sangag Choeling in Samtse dzongkhag, opened one of his rooms as a classroom in 1947 and invited C. M. Rai from India to educate the children. In addition, the inhabitants of Nainital village built a school in 1951 that is currently known as Ugyentse. The school began with only 12 students. Following that, inhabitants of various villages built schools in Samtse in 1954, 1955, and 1958.

In 1955, a school was founded in Tsirang dzongkhag. Darla in Chhukha dzongkhag and Neoli in Samdrup Jongkhar Dzongkhag both founded schools in 1957. In 1957, the current Jigmeling Lower Secondary School was also opened in Sarpang Dzongkhag.

Many schools were established around the kingdom under the reign of the Third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck (1952–1972). On the command of the third king, Samtse Lower Secondary School was founded in 1957 with 109 students. The following year, a new school was built in Chengmari hamlet, which is now known as Norbugang in Samtse. This school, which subsequently became Chengmari Primary School, had 25 students and a teacher. The school was taken over by the Royal Government of Bhutan in 1964, and 300 students were admitted.

With approval from the Second King Jigme Wangchuck, a school was established in Trashigang in 1952 on the suggestion of Dzongpon (district administrator) Sey Dophu. There were 32 students in total, two of whom were female. Father Mackay, a Canadian Jesuit priest, was named head teacher of the institution that became Bhutan’s first high school, Tashigang Central School, in 1964.

Shumar Drungpa is a Tibetan Buddhist monk (sub-district administrator) On the order of the third king, Babu Trashi built YurungLower Secondary School in PemaGatshel in 1957, and the school opened in April 1959 with 138 students and three teachers. Babu Tashi also founded a school in Mongar dzongkhag in 1959. By 1963, the school had grown from 200 students and five teachers when it first opened to 300 students and ten teachers.

Punakha School, located in the Western Regions, was built in the early 1950s in Lingkana Punagam. In 1955, the DrukGyalpo Jigme Dorji Wangchuck Higher Secondary School in Wangdue Phodrang was established. When the school first opened, there were 46 students enrolled. In the Central area, a primary school with about 100 students was created in Zhemgang dzongkhag in 1958, while a school in Trongsa opened in June 1959 in Churathang. There were also some female students at the school.

In the 1960s, the government built a uniform system of school education and curriculum. This was largely due to the establishment of the Five-Year Development Plan in 1961. Hindi and Choekey(classical Tibetan) were the languages of education until 1961. English, on the other hand, became the medium of teaching in 1962 since it was already a global interlanguage. The schools used an Indian curriculum that was borrowed, and practically all of the teachers were Indian.

The Education Directorate was founded during the first Five Year Plan (FYP) (1961–1966), and the Director of Education was the Secretary General of the Development Wing. The first Chokey textbooks were published in 1966. In 1968, the Department of Education held the first Bhutan Matriculation Examination, which included 20 students.

                        Sherubtse college the first college of Bhutan

In 1968, the third king established Sherubtse Public School in Kanglung and TeacherTraining Institute (TTI) in Samtse to train national teachers, realizing the value of contemporary education and the need for national instructors. The institute was renamed National Institute of Education, and is presently known as SamtseCollege of Education (SCE). SCE is responsible for secondary school teacher education. In 1973, the Counselling Institute for the Visually Impaired was formed in Khaling, following the formation of SCE. Following that, in 1975, the Teacher Training Center (TTC) in Paro was established, which eventually became known as Teacher Training College and is today known as Paro College of Education (PCE). PCE educates primary and national language teachers in a variety of contexts.

In 1974, the Druk Readers and Druk and Drukpa in Social Studies series of English textbooks were released. Following that, in 1976, the first National Education Policy was developed, which was later updated in 1984. Recognizing the significance of making school curriculum more relevant, the Curriculum and Textbook Development Division (CTDD) was founded in 1985 at the headquarters to handle curriculum issues. A New Approach to Primary Education (NAPE) was introduced in 1986 to meet the needs of the time, which demanded a shift away from rote learning and toward activity-based and student-centered learning.

Bhutan History and Geography was started in 1990 for grades VI–VIII, and it was expanded to grades IX–X in 1993, with the goal of creating a distinctly Bhutanese curriculum that is relevant to the student, community, and country. In 1996, the Curriculum and Textbook Development Division was renamed CAPSS, which stands for Curriculum and Professional Support Section. Later, the division was renamed Curriculum and Profession Support Division (CAPSD).

The introduction of integrated science for classes VII and VIII in 1999, which revised and combined important concepts from the three disciplines of science, was followed by the introduction of integrated science for classes VII and VIII in 1999. Recognizing the inadequacy of school curricula in preparing students for the world, the Ministry of Education initiated curriculum reform for subjects such as English, Dzongkha, and Mathematics during the 9thFYP (2002–2008), which was followed by science curriculum reform during the 9thFYP’s final phase.

In 2001, the Bhutan Council for School Examinations and Assessment, formerly known as the Bhutan Board of Examinations, took over the conduct of class X examinations from the Delhi-based Indian Secondary Certificate Examination, and in 2006, for class XII. The Curriculum and Professional Support Division (CAPSD) was elevated to the Department of Curriculum Research and Development (DCRD) in 2010, and on December 12, 2014, it became the Royal Education Council. In the same year, the Bhutan Education BluePrint (2014–2024) was released.

          The first Technical Training Institute of Bhutan 

Curriculum improvements in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) as well as Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) were suggested in Bhutan’s Education BluePrint. It was also suggested that Bhutanese values of Gross National Happiness (GNH) be combined with twenty-first-century skills and pedagogies in the Social Sciences. The first National School Curriculum Conference (NSCC) was held in October 2016 in response to the need to make the curriculum more relevant to the national and global environment. Since then, the country’s educational system has undergone numerous revisions.

Since the first Five Year Plan in 1961, Bhutan’s education system has grown to meet fundamental educational needs and create human resources needed for the country’s socioeconomic development. From roughly 11 schools in 1961 to 1007 schools and other educational institutes in 2019, the modern education system has grown to include everything from early childhood care through postsecondary, technical, and vocational education.

Level of schooling in Bhutan

             Bhutan’s educational attainment

  1. Primary School

         Thimphu Primary School is one of the primary schools in Bhutan

Bhutanese primary education consists of seven years of schooling, from pre-primary to grade six. Pre-primary is the first grade of primary school, and students must be 6 years old or older to enroll. Investing in primary education has a long-term influence on poverty and inequality reduction. The Royal Government of Bhutan recognizes this and places a high value on primary education.

  1. Lower Secondary School (VII-VIII)

  Wangdicholing lower secondary school the second school of bhutan

After primary school, lower secondary education consists of two years of schooling. Approximately 85% of children who complete primary school progress to the lower secondary level.

  1. Middle Secondary School.

Trashigang Middle Secondary School bhutan’s first middle/higher secondary school

After completing lower secondary education, students enter middle secondary education for two years. Students must take a national level examination administered by the Bhutan Council for School Examination and Assessment at the completion of middle secondary education (which is also the end of free basic education). 

  1. Higher Secondary School

Norbugang central school one of the oldest school in bhutan

Following the completion of secondary education, higher secondary education consists of two years of schooling. Selection of students for government scholarships to pursue higher and tertiary education after completing middle secondary education, on the other hand, is purely based on merit and the availability of seats in accordance with the country’s human resource demands.


We have talked about the Education System in Bhutan and it’s fallow. We have covered when education began in Bhutan, Bhutan’s school education history and levels of schooling in Bhutan. Have understood what education actually is in Bhutan.

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