A modern educational system was introduced in Bhutan in the 1960s. Prior to that, education was provided only by monasteries. In the interim, more than 340 schools and institutions of higher education have been established, including over 150 community schools to serve remote rural areas. however, many of these schools have no sanitation facilities, electricity, or drinking water, and students may have to walk several hours a day to get to them. A growing number of children are attending school, but over 50% still do not attend.
Efforts have been made to improve the education of women, and girls account for 45% of primary school enrollment. However, the overall literacy rate for women is still very low and lags far behind that for men. Bhutan's estimated rate of adult illiteracy for the year 2000 stood at 52.7% (males, 38.9%; females, 66.4%). The official language is Dzongkha (written in the Tibetan script). However, English is widely used. Education is not compulsory. The educational system consists of seven years of primary schooling followed by four years of secondary school. In 1994, primary schools enrolled 60,089 pupils. In the same year, secondary schools enrolled 7,299 students. The pupil-teacher ratio at the primary level was 42 to 1 in 1999.
In 1991, Bhutan had 209 schools altogether, including 22 monastic schools, schools for Tibetan refugees, and six technical schools. There was at the highest-level one junior college, two teacher training colleges, and one degree college which was affiliated to the university at Delhi in India. Many teachers from India are employed in Bhutan.