Health & Education

The Health of the Bhutanese 

The road to modern health care in Bhutan began in 1961 with two hospitals, two doctors, and two nurses (Tobgay et al., 2011), coinciding with the first five year developmental Plan (1961-1966). Since then, Bhutan has witnessed significant progress in the health and wellbeing of the population. All health-related indicators improved and Bhutan achieved most of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2015.

The Modern Health System, Bhutan has strives for the equitable distribution of health and health care by providing free health care services to the people through the wide network of health facilities. Health care is delivered through a three-tiered health care service delivery system with a major thrust in the preventive and primary health care services.

Bhutanese traditional medicine (BTM) has a unique status in the country. With its origin from Tibetan traditional medicine, BTM has evolved to become a countrywide system known as gSoba Rigpa (Lhamo & Nebel, 2011) that promotes the health and economy of the nation. The institution of BTM was formalized through a Royal Decree issued in 1967 that mandates the need for strengthening BTM.


Education in Bhutan

Western-style education was introduced to Bhutan during the reign of Ugyen Wangchuck (1907–26). Until the 1950s, the only formal education available to Bhutanese students, except for private schools in Haa and Bumthang, was through Buddhist monasteries.

In the 1950s, several private secular schools were established without government support, and several others were established in major district towns with government backing. By the late 1950s, there were twenty-nine government and thirty private primary schools, but only about 2,500 children were enrolled. Secondary education was available only in india. Eventually, the private schools were taken under government supervision to raise the quality of education provided. Although some primary schools in remote areas had to be closed because of low attendance, the most significant modern developments in education came during the period of the First Development Plan (1961–66), when some 108 schools were operating and 15,000 students were enrolled.

Bhutan’s coeducational school system in 1988 encompassed a reported 42,446 students and 1,513 teachers in 150 primary schools, 11,835 students and 447 teachers in 21 junior high schools, and 4,515 students and 248 teachers in 9 high schools. Males accounted for 63 percent of all primary and secondary students. Most teachers at these levels—70 percent—also were males. There also were 1,761 students and 150 teachers in technical, vocational, and special schools in 1988.

Education is empowerment and social reform. It is acquired opportunity to liberate oneself from inherited social and economic disadvantages. His Majesty expounded that schools are social equalizer where all the students are same without distinction of wealth and status. It gives children the same opportunity to succeed in life.

Education programs were given a boost in 1990 when the Asian Development Bank granted loan for staff training and development, specialist services, equipment and furniture purchases, salaries and other recurrent costs, and facility rehabilitation and construction at Royal Bhutan Polytechnic. The Department of Education Division were given grant for improving the technical, vocational, and training sectors. The New Approach to Primary Education, started in 1985, was extended to all primary and junior high schools in 1990 and stressed self-reliance and awareness of Bhutan’s unique national culture and environment.

Most Bhutanese students being educated abroad received technical training in India, Singapore, Japan, australia, New Zealand, Britain, the Germany, and United States. English-speaking countries attracted the majority of Bhutanese students. The vast majority returned to their homeland.