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Bhutan lures Indian teachers with special packages

Faced with an acute shortage of teachers, Bhutan's education ministry is now attracting tutors from India with special packages.

india Updated: Aug 14, 2006 14:34 IST

Faced with an acute shortage of teachers, Bhutan's education ministry is now attracting tutors from neighbouring India with special packages and allowances.

The Himalayan kingdom is running short of mathematics and physics teachers.

Last month, the education ministry began providing 20 per cent of the basic salary as "scarcity allowance" to Indians working in the country.

The allowance was clubbed with the 30 per cent contract allowance that is paid to Indian teachers over and above the basic salary.

"This is an interim measure we have taken to attract Indian teachers and also to retain the existing ones," Tshewang Tandin, director of education department, was quoted as saying by Bhutan's national newspaper Kuensel.

Tandin said the incentive would be removed once there were enough teachers.

According to Wangchuk Rabten, joint director of the department's monitoring and support services division, the shortage is mainly felt at the middle and higher secondary school level.

Records with National Institute of Education (NIE), one of the premier institutions of learning in the country, in Samtse show only a few Bhutanese graduating from the institute with the two elective subjects.

"Those expatriates good in these two subjects have a varied opportunity," said Rabten.

Besides, the teaching profession was still a last option in Bhutan.

Teachers in these two subjects are even in short supply at the teacher training institutes. There was no graduate or postgraduate lecturer in maths and physics in NIE.

Educationists point out that during the past few years, Bhutanese have shown very little aptitude for maths. In 2004, only about 17 teachers graduated from NIE with maths as an elective subject.

However, the incentive, or rather the lack of it, had dampened the spirits of Bhutanese maths and physics teachers who are calling it unfair and discouraging.

"It sends a negative signal to those genuinely interested," said a maths teacher here.

"We share the same load of work, teaching about 30 classes a week."