In late March 2020, the UNICEF office in Bhutan received a GPE grant of US$70,000 to support the Ministry of Education. A workshop on education in emergencies was held in late April to develop a COVID-19 Response Plan focusing on education continuity, especially for the unreached, with wide participation.
The plan includes 4 options for re-opening schools based on the Global Framework for Reopening Schools, developed by UNICEF, the World Bank, UNESCO and WFP. A study on online learning was conducted, focusing on children, parents and teachers.
Education in Bhutan
Over the last decade, Bhutan has made significant progress to expand access to education. The Royal Government of Bhutan has been giving high priority to improving the quality of learning in primary schools and expanding access to secondary education.
The 10-year “Bhutan Education Blueprint (BEBP 2014-2024)” focuses on transforming the education system to increase access, quality, equity, and efficiency. The government recognizes education as a basic right and a prerequisite for achieving the country’s social, cultural, and economic goals.
The overall goal of the Blueprint is to have an efficient, high-performing and successful education system that prepares students, its future citizens, to thrive in a competitive and “fast-homogenizing” world with knowledge, intellectual competence, and character. While the government is committed to developing the education system, progress is constrained by the country’s limited resources.
Bhutan has recently constituted a forum called Education Sector Coordination Meeting (ESCM) as the local education group. The ESCM under the leadership of the ministry of Education serves as a forum for sector dialogue and enhanced coordination and collaboration between the government, development partners and civil society organizations.
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In response to the challenges identified in the Blueprint, the proposed program supports the ministry of Education to focus on early childhood care and education (ECCE) and learning assessments as transformative areas that can produce sustainable and system-level improvements.
After successful implementation of the program, it is expected that:
- More children, especially those from disadvantaged groups, are physically, intellectually, socially and emotionally prepared for school
- Education policies and teaching/learning processes are informed and improved by robust and periodic learning assessments.
The program, financed by a US$1.8 million grant, consists of two components:
- Component 1 includes two initiatives designed, firstly, to increase the number of early childhood care and education centers to be established in already available infrastructure and improve the existing ECCE Parenting Education Manual. Secondly, to provide in-service training for an additional 100 ECCE facilitators of the newly established centers, develop and distribute a revised ECCE parenting manual, and improve the monitoring capacity of ministry of Education officials.
- Component 2 aims to develop a policy framework (a National Education Assessment Framework - NEAF), build the capacity necessary for a more reliable and credible assessment of school outcomes, and implement a stronger NEA using a sample-based methodology at Grade 3 level. It builds on gradual progress made to develop a systematic national assessment system and seeks to provide the policy framework and practical capacity necessary for efficient and effective monitoring of learning achievement in grades 3, 6, 10 and 12.
Education sector progress
The graphs below show overall progress in the education sector in Bhutan, and GPE data shows the country progress on 16 indicators monitored in the GPE Results Framework.
Primary Completion Rate (%)
Lower secondary completion rate
Out-of-school rate for children of primary school age
Out-of-school rate for adolescents of lower secondary school age
Pre-primary gross enrollment rate
Gender parity index for out-of-school rate – Primary and lower secondary
Public Expenditure on Education as Share of GDP (%)
Students/trained teacher ratio
Teachers Trained (%)
Source: World Bank - Education Data
Data on education are compiled by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Institute for Statistics from official responses to surveys and from reports provided by education authorities in each country.