Bhutan government has decided to double the pay of teachers with 10 years of experience, in a bid to boost both contentment levels and the country’s education system. Medical staff will also receive increments as part of different measures that will place teachers and doctors among the highest-paid civil servants in the country.
The move was put forward by Bhutan’s Prime Minister Lotay Tshering, who is a doctor and surgeon himself. The pay hikes were a part of the election promises made by the PM to reduce inequality and introduce reforms in the health and education sectors of the country.
Bhutan’s teaching profession has suffered at the hands of poor pay and working conditions, making it the least preferred positions in the civil service. In 2018, more than four percent teachers quit their jobs and a majority of them resigned willingly. Similar staff attrition rates were affecting the medical profession as well.
“As pledged, our focus is on according due motivation to the teachers, while also improving the quality of the profession, which in turn will benefit our education system”, Prime Minister Tshering said earlier this month. Salary is just one facet, he noted: “As part of our flagship programmes, we are also targeting capacity building and career advancement for teachers.”
The move aims to boost new recruits, along with retaining experienced teachers in a country that faces a number of societal issues, including poverty, corruption and unemployment. Bhutan’s Health Minister Lyonpo Dechen Wangmo, believes investing in quality teachers will produce productive students, who will have a positive impact on the country in the coming times. However, success was seen differently in this remote nation than other developing countries across the globe.
Most countries access their development through Gross National Product (GNP) – the value of goods and services manufactured or produced. However, in Bhutan, this system has been swapped with a policy of Gross National Happiness (GNH), which values citizens’ happiness over economic indicators.
The World Health Organization has cautioned depression will be one of the leading cause of global disease burden by 2030 and hence happiness was a befitting indicator to gauge the economic progress of a country. Other countries were also following the suit. Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, for example, had a Minister of State for Happiness and Wellbeing, and New Zealand’s 2019 budget included comprehensive measures that placed citizens’ wellbeing at the centre of legislation and policymaking.
The United Nations’ Human Development Index explores how factors such as education, income and health have an impact on people’s lives in different countries across the globe. Although numerous factors were linked to happiness, the HDI also includes measures such as economics and life expectancy. According to HDI 2018 report, Norway ranked highest, while Bhutan secured 134th spot out of 189 countries.