On the chilly morning of February 3, 2014, teacher and councilor graduates (225) holding Postgraduate Diploma in Education and Postgraduate Diploma in Guidance and Counciling, respectively, from two College of Education (Samtse and Paro) gathered in Motithang HSS auditorium for our job placement. Everyone looked happy and hopeful for we were going to be employed full time but to our dismay it existed momentarily.
'Lucky dip' to deploy better teachers in remote places
Ministry's strategy of deploying better teachers in remote places was intervened by incorporating 'lucky dip' system. But was it really effective or even valid? This gloomy system struck to me with utmost concern because individuals upon drawing a 'lucky dip' were sent outside to name and sign on it. However, the scene depicted outside was an outrage. Individuals rushed hither and thither with mouthful of hope that if someone would exchange with their Dzongkhags (received via lucky dip). Few displayed their dissatisfaction/disappointment through tears - could this be a good start for one's career? I stood amidst all such hue and cry pondering 'was ministry this lame in coming up with such so-called lucky dip strategy to fight off the issue associated with deployment of better teachers in remote places? And owing to the lack of experience, how did they determine who is a better teacher amongst all beginners?' My mind dwelled with inquisition but to no avail. All concerned personnel from the ministry witnessed the outrage as well. God knows what flushed through their minds.
Possible Alternative Remedy to 'lucky dip'
Attractions like rendering incentives (say, additional 5% of basic wage), initial traveling and settlement allowances (it takes 3 days to reach from Thimphu to Eastern Dzongkhags viz. Tashigang, Tashiyangtse, and Pemagatshel) would most likely draw attentions of all new/old/better teachers and consequently generate a stiff competition. Now this would definitely enhance the quality of education in remote schools without having to compromise on any job satisfaction or hard work one has put into accomplishing a top academic result. If the ministry is to really enhance the education quality of remote schools by deploying better teachers, then teachers with teaching experiences should have been their priority - NOT the newly appointed teachers.
Placement Day 2: Oath Taking Ceremony
The following day, on February 4, 2014, it was oath taking ceremony day. Hon'ble Secretary, Ms. Sangay Zam, of Ministry of Education, who also conferred placement orders to all new teachers and councilors, chaired the ceremony. Then we dismissed for tea break only to find out that there was no tea for any. Returning from the tea-less tea break, an open discussion pertaining to any issue was commenced. But the discussion could not penetrate beyond one topic - 'married couples requiring placement in same Dzongkhag and school'. Since it kept prolonging, other issues could not be deliberated/discussed.
At one point we were asked if the 'lucky dip' system was satisfying. To which, more than 50% voted 'NO' by not showing any hand. At that right moment I so wished if they rendered an opportunity for some of us to voice out our opinions and suggestions. But they had something different in their agenda and we sat there very unsatisfied.
Now, the Breaking News for media!
We have the tendency of naturally waiting to hear breaking news from medias. But the situation seems to have reversed today. I got breaking news for medias.
My eyes and ears were wide open and excited to see and hear medias cramming in. I thought this would be an opportune time for us to feel proud and an avenue to empower and attract more talented graduates into teaching career. But as the second day of placement neared its end, I knew the media, and for the same reason the nation as well, were least bothered or didn't even know about this big day for new teachers. I felt it was like a local event, which was known to only the participants. Wait a second! I take that back. Even local events get broadcasted and printed in news channels. All in all, the so-called "noble profession" goes unnoticed by medias - so much to become teacher and receive the least attention... The breaking news in fact!