Recently, when I’ve walked out of our flat in the evening, there’s been a young girl sitting on the steps outside our door. She lives upstairs, but I guess there’s no room in the attic flats to study, so she brings her notebooks down and sits there to read them.

This morning, Marie and I took a short bike ride up to the Thimphu gaol along a scenic road that passes beneath Semtoka dzong and the Institute of Languages. University aged boys were stationed at 20m intervals along the road, staring at white pages marked with the elegant dzongkha script.

It’s exam time in Bhutan.

What strikes me is the fact that none of these pre-exam students are writing anything. It’s still a rote learning system here and they learn exclusively by memorising by sight. I know there is a lot of concern about the falling levels of students in particular fields, and the government is working hard both to dispell the idea and to improve the curriculum. While I’m sure that it could be improved, especially in the area of making students think, I wonder if the quickest starting point wouldn’t be to encourage students to also listen to and write what they’re trying to learn by rote. At least retention would be improved.