It is not education, but education of a certain kind, that will serve us. And the current model of western, urban-centred, school-based education, which is so often more focused on turning children into efficient corporate units rather than curious and open-minded adults, will only lead us further down the wrong path.
–David W. Orr
Conventional education in Bhutan largely focused on structured school based outcomes like pass percentages, dropout rate, school infrastructures, pupil-instructor ratios and enrolment rates. Therefore, the conventional education indicators that are currently available to assess educational attainments are inadequate. Many other learning outcomes which took place outside of formal structured education systems have not been assessed so far. This paper will go little further in its scope from the conventional system of reporting educational attainments. It will, for the first time, try to assess different types of knowledge and skills that people have acquired in their life course such as history, culture, civic, ecology and indigenous knowledge and skills which are mostly acquired informally.
Although Bhutan made a late entrance into the system of formal school based education, people had and still have other forms of informal education through which they acquire many vital values and principles outside of formal education institutes. T.S Powdyel (2004) notes:
Our myriad humble homes and hamlets have been our university of a special kind to [t]each us the timeless lessons of humility and tolerance, the power of love and compassion, the need to care and share, the laws of action and consequence, the essence of simplicity and the value of thadamtsi, the love of our sacred institutions, and the goodness of humanity.
Besides these values, our people learn many other knowledge and skills, which are very essential to day-to-day living such as arts and crafts, outside of formal educational institutes.
Education contributes to the knowledge, values, creativity, skills, human capital, and civic sensibility of citizens. It strongly boosts a nation’s economy and enables efficient and wise decision-making. T. S. Powdyel (2004) aptly puts “… knowledge will decide the quality and destiny of nations.”
Education qualification is found to positively impact the quality of life experienced by people although the degree of impact differs across countries (Doh S. Shinn 1986). A study by Culvert Group, Ltd. and Hazel Henderson in their Culvert-Henderson Quality of Life Indicators study found that individuals with lower literacy skills were much more likely to be living in poverty than individuals with higher literacy skills. The same study also found that people with higher level of literacy skills are more likely to be involved in democracy through voting.