When Bhutan closed international borders and travel to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in March last year, we were forced to hit the pause button as well. The closed borders meant that some of the Bhutan Canada Foundation’s education programming (at least that which would have taken place on the ground in Bhutan) would have to take a break, especially that which focused on capacity development and growth in the education sector. Understanding this, we started to look at other possibilities: how would we be able to assist the effort in Bhutan to adapt to the transition towards new pedagogies and technologies in a changing learning context?
Following the global shift from in-person learning to various forms of online learning, the question was raised as to whether there was anything BCF could do to assist this transition in Bhutan. This is where the concept of the Recover and Rebuild pilot initiative was developed to provide online professional development for teachers in Bhutan. Enabling teachers to build new skills in online pedagogy and other areas would help the education sector adapt in the context of the pandemic and beyond. Moreover, providing an online platform for teachers to attend these workshops who would otherwise have had limited access, especially in terms of travelling long distances and all factors considered with that, was key in our interest in pursuing this initiative. Along with the Ministry of Education, we identified a number of potential topics of interest for the teachers that they normally would have limited or no access to. As a result, the first 4 topics covered Online Writing and Learning, 21st Century Pedagogy, Understanding Giftedness and Gifted Learners, and Collaborative Learning. The workshops all addressed in some way the period of transition to online learning. They looked at different ways teachers can keep students involved and interested, the use of different techniques and strategies, and the different types of students in the classroom.
The workshops exceeded all expectations. During the initial planning stages, the estimation was that there would be about 30 attendees for each workshop but we were extremely surprised to find over 100 accounts in the Zoom waiting room during the first workshop itself! This was a trend that continued over the next three workshops with the most common request being whether we could increase the number of participants for each workshop. By the end of the fourth workshop, we had reached close to 600 participants from across the country.
Participants appreciated the learning they gained through the workshops:
- “All those pedagogies were new to me and I found all very useful and applicable in my school”
- “This is applicable for all subjects, likewise, I would like to look for more interesting activities unlike traditional means of teaching learning.”
- “Thank you for organizing such online workshops, which is helpful and beneficial for us.
With the high level of interest and participation during the Recover and Rebuild workshops, we are excited to keep the ball rolling. This is why we are taking part in the #GivingChallengeCA where we hope to achieve the goal of scaling up the project and funding new workshops for the teachers. Every dollar that is donated in June through Canadahelps.org gives the Bhutan Canada Foundation the chance to win an additional $20,000 that will go towards the #RecoverandRebuild initiative in Bhutan! The donations can be made here:
Thank you for your generosity in helping Bhutan’s education sector adapt and thrive.