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Bhutan's education system
Primary and Secondary education
Primary education incorporates one year of pre-primary education, which provides an opportunity for all children to prepare for the formal education programme. Secondly, it is generally accepted that the Bhutanese culture provides a high level of interaction between children, parents and other family members in the child's early formative years. The government has addressed the issue through sectoral inputs in the areas of health, nutrition and education. Nurseries and day-care centres are now being established by the private sector in urban areas.

The new constitution provides for 11 years of free basic education for every Bhutanese child from pre-primary to class10. No tuition fees are charged and rural children receive free stationery and textbooks, but education can still be costly for parents because of the opportunity costs and lack of cash income.

Government policy is to provide primary-school facilities within walking distance of all children's homes. As a result of government efforts, net primary enrolment rates have increased compared with 2005, and are now 80 percent for boys and girls. Net enrolment rates in Chukha, Gasa, Samtse and Tsirang continue to be below the national average.

The main reasons for children not attending school include:

distances to rural schools: many primary schoolchildren walk up to two hours each way;

associated costs: for low-income families the cost of school uniforms and packed lunches are prohibitively high - for a quarter of rural families this was the reason for not sending their children to school;

reliance on children for farm labour and household incomes - for a fifth of rural families this was the reason for not sending children to school;

lack of interest: school education is often seen as irrelevant; and

the perception in remote areas that girls' education is less important than boys'.

Under the WFP-supported school feeding programme, students in boarding schools at primary, lower secondary, middle secondary, and higher secondary schools receive breakfast, a mid-morning snack and lunch from WFP; dinner is provided by a parental contribution for boarding pupils up to class 6, and by the Government in the form of a cash payment called a "stipend" for boarding students in class 7 and above and in a few primary boarding schools. Assistance for boarding students currently accounts for half of WFP expenditure on school feeding in Bhutan.

Source: United Nations World Food Programme 2007

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