History of Special Education in Bhutan

In keeping with its principles, the Royal Government of Bhutan has provided free education for its children since the 1960s; before that, there was monastic education. In 1972, the National Institute of Disability, now the Muenselling Institute, a school for the visually impaired, was established in Khaling as a boarding facility supported by UNICEF. But education tailored for children with special needs is a relatively recent development in Bhutan. In 2001, the Changangkha Lower Secondary School was identified as a special education school serving the area around Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan. Also, the Draktsho Vocational Training Center for Special Children and Youth was established with the Bhutan Youth Development Fund to provide vocational training and employment to students with intellectual impairment and multiple disabilities. In 2004, a Deaf Unit at the Drukgyel Lower Secondary School was designated for students with hearing impairment, and classes began as part of an inclusion model. Soon after the Drukgyel Deaf School, now the Wangsel Institute, was established separately, a boarding facility was built, and a Bhutanese sign language was developed. Since 2007, the Special Education Program, with the Ministry of Education, has been providing the expertise and resources needed to improve the quality and reach of special education in Bhutan.

Special Education Program Timeline

At the inception of the Special Education Program in 2007, the Government’s Five Year Plan called for the education of all children, including children with special needs. The Special Education Program has helped to expand awareness throughout the country, has seen the development of a Special Education Division within the Ministry of Education, and the creation of a National Policy on Special Education.