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The small, isolated Kingdom of Bhutan is opening its first ever private college this year. Spread over a 25-acre site in in Ngabiphu, about 10 kilometers from the capital of Thimphu, the Royal Thimphu College will accommodate 300 students in the first year.

The small, isolated Kingdom of Bhutan is opening its first ever private college this year. Spread over a 25-acre site in in Ngabiphu, about 10 kilometers from the capital of Thimphu, the Royal Thimphu College will accommodate 300 students in the first year.

Bhutan is currently experiencing a drastic transformation compared to only 10 years ago. In 1998, King Jigme Singye Wangchuck introduced significant political reforms to open up perhaps the most isolated country at the time. King Wangchuck transferred most of his administrative powers to the Council of Cabinet Ministers and allowed for the possible impeachment of a King by a two-thirds majority of the National Assembly.

In 1999, the government lifted a ban of television and the Internet, making Bhutan one of the last countries to introduce television. Other forms of modernization included easing of border restrictions, cellular telephones and direct international flights. Also, after centuries of monarchic rule, Bhutan held it first democratic elections in March of 2008.

But while opening up its doors and modernizing the country, Bhutan is balancing its long standing culture and traditions. Bhutan is widely regarded as having a extremely high quality of life. Many happiness indexes rank Bhutan in the top 20, despite its low per capita income. Accordingly, in 2006, Business Week rated Bhutan the happiest country in Asia and the eighth happiest country in the world citing a global survey conducted by the University of Leicester in 2006.

Bhutan’s education system has increased dramatically since 1960’s when a modern education system was introduced. Prior to that, education was provided only by monasteries. Although a public school system was developed, many of the schools lacked basic supplies, sanitation facilities, electricity or drinking water and the majority of students did not even attend.

As of 1990, literacy rates were estimated at 30 percent for males and 10 percent for females by the Untied Nations Development Program, ranking the lowest among all least developed countries. Education was given a lift in 1990 when the Asian Development Bank (ADB) granted a $7.13 million loan for education. In 2000, the literacy rate jumped up to 47 percent. The ADB funding enabled the development of the first higher education facility in Bhutan, The Royal Bhutan Polytechnic.

Today there a few higher education technical and vocational schools in Bhutan, such as the Royal University of Bhutan, but a large amount of students leave the country to obtain their education outside of Bhutan’s borders, with India being the principle destination. The announcement of the first private College in Bhutan was a welcome change for many younger students who will no longer be forced to leave the country for an education.

Tenzin Yountin, the chief executive of the college, said that courses will be offered in computer applications, business administrations, commerce and art degrees ranging from English and environmental studies to sociology and political science. The college will be one of the Royal University of Bhutan constituents after a Memorandum of Understanding was signed in 2007. The Royal University of Bhutan welcomes the private addition as an increasing number of students are graduating each year.

Tenzin Younten said that admissions for the college would start soon after the declaration of Class XII results in early 2009. The faculty recruitment for Bhutanese teachers will begin in December, while recruitment of foreign teachers will start in January. He also said that the college aims at having about 70 highly qualified and experienced national and international faculty members.

“The first phase of the construction of the college facilities is complete and we’re very much on track to open the college in July,” he said. He said that, when fully constructed, the campus would have 34 buildings, which include a library and IT center, eight residential hostels for 500 students, football ground, multipurpose hall and other facilities. “We are planning to accommodate 900 students by 2011,” he said.

Asked about the admission fees, the chief executive said that they have submitted a range to the education ministry to consider. “We’re targeting comparable colleges in India, especially the south Indian colleges,” he said.

Currently, all government colleges and tertiary institutions in the country will take in about 1,500 students in 2009. The addition of the Royal Thimphu College should add about 20 percent this year. Many are hoping that the success of the private college will translate into more private investment to increase the educational opportunities throughout the country.

Source: www.AsiaEcon.org
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Source: www.asiaecon.org |

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