Bhutan to double teacher pay

The mountain kingdom of Bhutan. (Getty Images)
The mountain kingdom of Bhutan. (Getty Images)

In many countries teachers have a rough time but not in Bhutan, the small Himalayan kingdom famous for striving for Gross National Happiness, where their pay is being doubled.

Under proposals newly approved by the lower house of parliament, monthly pay for teachers of 10 years' experience will double to 40 000 ngultrums ($570) and they will now get perks including allowances.

Medical professionals in the nation of 750 000 people will also get a raise, with those with nine years' experience set to be paid 37 000 ngultrums, up from 28 000 ngultrums.

The hikes by the cabinet of Prime Minister Lotay Tshering, a doctor who still practises medicine at weekends, departed radically from recommendations by the pay commission.

The lowest rungs of the civil service who include support staff like drivers, will see a hefty 36 percent pay rise and get retirement benefits for the first time and rent allowances.

Tshering, elected last year promising to improve the country's health and education system and reduce inequalities, however will get just a six percent rise.

Pema Yangki, a teacher from Paro, a rice-growing district in western Bhutan, said teaching was a tough job and the revision was a huge motivation to everyone in the profession.

"Now we can proudly say that we are teachers," Pema Yangki said.

For many individuals who seek employment in the civil service, teaching is one of their last options and they will only join the profession if they do not qualify for other posts.

Yangki said this is likely to change now and it will also help retain experienced teachers in the sector.

The Buddhist kingdom is in many ways a case apart, benchmarking itself on happiness instead of economic growth, focusing in particular on protecting the environment.

But the "Land of the Thunder Dragon" bordering China and India also has its problems, among them corruption, rural poverty, youth unemployment and criminal gangs.

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