Promoting literacy and building the foundation for a sustainable future
Posted: 5 September 2023
Kinley Wangchuk is a Senior Teacher at Gelephu Higher Secondary School in Bhutan. He teaches English as a second language to grade 11 and 12 students. Besides his primary role as a teacher, Kinley also serves as the school’s literary coordinator. In 2018, Kinley received an Australia Awards Scholarship to pursue a Master of Teaching of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) from La Trobe University in Melbourne. After completing his master’s degree in 2019, Kinley resumed his teaching duties at Gelephu Higher Secondary School. Today, he is an active alumnus and has also participated in an Australia Awards’ Australian Professional Opportunity on the subject of Online Blended Learning and Teaching in 2022.
As a teacher, what changes have you noticed in the teaching and learning environment over recent years?
In recent years, the teaching and learning landscape has undergone significant transformations. In Bhutan and globally, technology has become very important, fostering interactive and personalised learning experiences. Virtual classrooms, online resources, and digital assessments have expanded education’s reach. Pedagogical approaches emphasising critical thinking, problem-solving, and collaboration, preparing students for real-world challenges.
However, these changes also presented challenges, including digital inequality and the need to balance technology with traditional teaching methods. In Bhutan, the focus on holistic education aligned with global trends, nurturing informed individuals. Overall, education has evolved to be more inclusive, adaptive, and interconnected, preparing our students for a rapidly changing world.
The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 4 aims to achieve inclusive quality education for all. What are your thoughts on this and how are you contributing to the achievement of this goal?
Sustainable Development Goal 4’s objective of providing inclusive quality education resonates as a cornerstone for societal progress. In my role as a senior teacher, I joined the Special Education Needs (SEN) program of the school to learn about and participate in fostering inclusive learning environments that cater to diverse students’ needs. Attending workshops and trainings on inclusive education, I strive to cultivate holistic innovative teaching methods and student-centered approaches.
My participation in professional development programs like the SEN workshops and an Australian Professional Opportunity to learn about online learning and teaching equipped me with advanced ideas and tools to enhance my teaching approaches to inclusive quality education. Allowing students to engage locally through imparting English language skills and promoting literacy by organising various literary activities in the school perfectly aligns with SDG 4 and it reinforces my commitment to nurturing well-rounded, inclusive and empowered learners who can shape a more equitable future for themselves.
What are your views on literacy and its impact on building the foundation for sustainable and peaceful societies?
I believe that literacy is a necessary facilitator for sustainable and peaceful societies. It empowers individuals with the ability to access information, think critically, and engage actively in civic life. Literacy enhances economic opportunities, reduces inequalities, and enables informed decision-making. By promoting understanding and empathy across cultures, literate societies are more likely to foster tolerance and harmony. In education, literacy serves as a foundation, enabling effective learning across all subjects. It also plays a crucial role in achieving various UN Sustainable Development Goals, including gender equality, poverty eradication, and reduced inequalities. Eventually, literacy equips individuals with the tools to contribute meaningfully to their communities, shaping societies that are resilient, inclusive and built on a foundation of knowledge and understanding.
To address learning/teaching challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Australia Awards offered an Australian Professional Opportunity for Bhutanese teachers to attend an online course on blended learning and teaching. To what extent did you find this course beneficial?
I found participating in the Australian Professional Opportunity on Blended Learning and Teaching immensely beneficial. It equipped me with innovative strategies to navigate the challenges posed by the pandemic, enabling a seamless transition to online education while maintaining educational quality. The course deepened my understanding of technology integration, interactive virtual classrooms, and student engagement techniques.
Overall, the program effectively addressed the urgent need for adapting teaching methods during the pandemic and the insightful content made a positive contribution to my teaching practices.
Could you share your thoughts on your personal and professional journey since receiving an Australia Awards Scholarship?
Since receiving the Australia Awards Scholarship, my personal and professional journey has been transformative. Pursuing a Master of Teaching of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) at La Trobe University expanded my pedagogical horizons and exposed me to diverse teaching methodologies.
This experience enhanced my skills in addressing diverse student needs, language instruction, and cross-cultural communication. Returning to Gelephu Higher Secondary School, I integrated these insights into my teaching, promoting interactive and effective learning experiences. My participation in the Australian Professional Opportunity further enriched my expertise in blended learning and teaching. While awards and achievements are not the sole focus, my on-going commitment to quality education and contribution to literacy development of my students reflect the continuing impact of the scholarship on my journey.
Lastly, do you have a message to highlight the importance of International Literacy Day?
International Literacy Day paves the path towards a future of enlightenment and empowerment. The transformative journey of literacy builds bridges, opens doors, and nurtures minds in all. Fostering the ability to read, write, and understand, we sow the seeds of progress, harmony, and resilience in our multicultural societies.
So on this day, let’s strive in our commitment to spreading the gift of literacy, for it is through literacy and education that we shape individuals, societies, and the world at large. Together, we can weave the tapestry of knowledge that will empower us to navigate a world in transition, creating sustainable and peaceful societies for generations to come.