The Bhutan Centre for Media and Democracy (BCMD)

The mission of BCMD is to nurture a culture of democracy by strengthening media, expanding public discourse, and providing essential training and education for key persons who will have a direct impact on Bhutan's democratic transition and the creation of democratic institutions.
Jul 20, 2016

Empower Bhutan's Citizens to Engage in Democracy

Dear friends, donors and supporters,

 

We are glad to inform you all that our Media Lab has now become a functioning enterprise. With our dedicated team at the organisation and youth involved in the lab activities, the media lab is successfully running activities related to media production and to hosting of conversations and discussions, and continues to inspire people from all walks of life. This is a result of all the support we have received from you and we take this opportunity to thank each and everyone who have supported to our cause.

We count on Global Giving to continue to support our work at the lab and at BCMD! Your support has helped us reach out to many youth and civil society members in Bhutan's evolving democracy.

What have we been up to? Here is a glimpse of few activities we have led at the lab in this quarter-

Youth Initiative Summer Training:

Engaging youth in meaningful activities by providing them the right skills to be a responsible and active citizen is the main aim of the Youth Initiative (YI) summer training workshop.

The summer training for the third cohort of youth representatives from the Youth Initiative was successfully held from July 9 to 11, 2015. The training focused on enhancing skills of the youth representatives and also on providing them with a platform to discuss on their local actions. The workshop also explored a way forward for the Youth Initiative (YI) with its Steering Committee.

The Youth Initiative summer training provided about 30 Youth representatives with the opportunity to learn the skills of service learning, active listening, team building, build their presentation skills and how to conduct research. The training provided the representatives with the skills to identify and address issues in their respective communities to promote active citizenry.

Youth representatives from the three communities of Thimphu, Paro and Samtse presented their plans to take action to serve their communities in their local areas. The Thimphu community group is developing a ‘young writers’ society’ to promote reading and writing. The Paro community shared about their project on ‘waste management’ at the vegetable market, and the Samtse community about their project on ‘clean Samtse’, another waste management programme.

During the training the youth representatives were able to learn from the other participants about the good practices and also share the challenges that they faced in their communities while carrying out their local actions. These actions were identified in the winter YI workshop as actions youth would take to make a difference in their communities. It is a demonstration of civic action in a democracy, one that shifts a person from being a recipient of services to being a citizen willing to offer time and action to bring about improvements in their own communities.

The Youth representatives also met with the YI’s steering committee on the final day of the training to discuss the way forward for Youth Initiative (YI). They discussed why YI should continue with its work, explored actions to be considered by YI , future collaboration with other youth groups/ programs, recruitment, membership  and sustainability of YI.

“ It’s marvelous to see YI continuing. Many things start and disappear in Bhutan but the fact that YI is still going is a good sign. And its role gets bigger and bigger and more and more important year by year. YI provides an opportunity for young people to make their voices known in a way that’s acceptable and beneficial to society. Not in disruptive ways with appalling consequences as we see globally on the news with protests and so forth. YI is an important initiative in Bhutan. “ Michael Rutland, OBE British Honorary council.

The unanimous decision made among the founders of YI, the youth representatives and BCMD decided to take community- based action rather than deliberating on the issues.

Youth Initiative (YI) has come a long way since it first started in 2013. In the past two years (2014-2015), YI has conducted two-winter residential training and two-summer training for the youth representatives. YI has engaged 49 youth representatives, out of which 15 were female and 34 male. For 2016 Youth Initiative (YI) Summer Training, we had 30 youth representatives out of which 17 male and 13 female. The youth representatives who serve a term of one year comprised of high school students, high school graduates, college students and college graduates

The youth Initiative (YI) summer training has been made possible with the Fund support from UNICEF Bhutan.

 

Social Media Conversation

Media, like everything else, continue to evolve and change. In the past communications in Bhutan was largely oral, through word of mouth. People learned to read and write and this were followed by advancements in audiovisual broadcast technology. Today we live in an age of the digital media, which is sometimes known as social media. And BCMD has been priming our youth and teachers in how to use social media meaningfully with some impact. We have reached youth and government representatives in the local development offices scattered across Bhutan with our discussions on social media. 

The aims and objectives for such conversation is i) to educate the youths about Internet safety and how best to use it. ii) To encourage critical thinking which is very important and useful for the younger generation?  

This year the Social Media Conversation was conducted at the Media Lab for Luntenzampa Media Club members. Twenty-two students and 3 teachers from Lungtenzampa MSS attended Social Media conversation on 27th February at MediaLab.

The Conversations basically covered about the uses of the Internet, Staying safe online and Advantages & Disadvantages of social Media in this modern era of Technology.

Social Media is growing all over the world and most of the young people spend time engaging online. Most of the participants are from classes 7-10 and they are not really aware of impacts of social Media and neither do they receive guidance from their parents who are also first time users of the internet that was introduced in Bhutan only in 1999. Participants found conversation was effective and useful. They agreed to take back what they have learnt from the presentation and share it with their family and friends regarding social media issues.

 

Google Apps Training:

In June, we had volunteers from Google train more than 30 communications officers from civil society on how to use google apps.

The participants had hands on sessions using the computers at the lab. The participants were divided into groups and made to prepare a presentation on all the lessons that they have learned from the 3 and half-day sessions. This included how to use it for not just word processing, but for spreadsheets, presentations and more. For many CSOs, this was an eye-opener and a most useful learning experience to use apps more effectively to keep in touch.

 

 

 

 

Apr 20, 2016

Stories for Change

A participant taking background shots.
A participant taking background shots.

Stories for change creates a win- win situation for youths with basic knowledge of multimedia production and CSOs in need by connecting these two groups. The initiative by the Bhutan Centre for Media and Democracy has seen seven stories of CSOs produced.

In Bhutan, there are many meaningful initiatives of Civil Societry Organisations (CSO) for positive social changes. However, due to lack of resources, these activities have not been known to the public. On the other hand, there are motivated youths who are ready to help CSOs with their skills. Until now, the BCMD has held several workshops to offer opportunities for youths to learn how to produce multimedia news, photography and journalism skills.

CSOs can promote their activities with video and photo works of youths. And the youths can have chances to produce their own works and present these to the public. Furthermore, it can benefit the public who look for information about NGOs in Bhutan and inspiration for their own engagement.

In the next phase of Stories for Change, videos on Bhutan Foundation, Tarayana Foundation, and Construction Association for Bhutan will be produced. 

Dec 18, 2015

Citizen Engagement

NFE and ECCD instructors at Paro
NFE and ECCD instructors at Paro
  • Active Citizens Guide Book


Youth, teachers, parents, local leaders and citizens alike want to be active citizens? That's great! But they are not sure where to begin and how to do it?

Here is one solution, our Active Citizen's Guide Book might just be the tool citizens need in a democracy. Why? The book focuses on democracy and a few fundamental values that we need for a democracy to flourish in Bhutan. It encourages the readers to understand the simple fact that democracy is a way of life, and that it’s success depends on the actions of each citizen. 

The publication has a quick reference on Bhutan’s Constitution and the duties and rights enshrined in it. This allows the reader to think about not just their rights in a democracy but also their responsibilities. There is also valuable information on the Bhutanese parliament, the different committees in the parliament with their mandates and the difference between a bill and a law. Sounds helpful?

There's more, you can become a problem solver by just following the 5-step democratic approach to problem-solving. For citizens who want to find a place to volunteer for a social cause look out for the list of registered civil society organisations in Bhutan. 

And, if the readers want to get in touch with their elected representative in the parliament or with an editor of a newspaper? There is a complete list of members of parliament including their contact numbers along with letter writing tips to the editors of newspapers in the country. As we always say – an engaged society, a vibrant democracy! The book allows its readers to gain insight on some of the fundamentals of a democracy and also to write down your own brilliant ideas. Copies of the publication has been distributed in most schools, colleges, youth groups, parliament and more. 

 

  • Dear Prime Minister- a democracy song by BCMD youth partner


The Bhutan Centre for Media and Democracy (BCMD) has been one of the first civil society organisations (CSO) in Bhutan to advocate for a culture of a vibrant democracy since its inception in 2008. Through our many programmes such as public forums and seminars, trainings, sensitising workshops and more, we continue to create Bhutan-related advocacy materials (print and audio-visual) in order to impart the values of democracy such as mutual respect, being active members of the communities, rights and duties, sharing constructive opinions and more.

Recently we worked on a democracy song titled, ‘Dear Prime Minister.’ It was written and sung by Kezang Dorji, a youth representative at the youth initiative (YI), who is also an up and coming ‘rapper’ in the country. The song was launched at the International Day of Democracy event on September 15 this year, which was coordinated jointly by the Institute of Gross National Happiness Studies (iGNHaS), Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP Bhutan), Samtse College of Education (SCE) and BCMD at Samtse.

Dear Prime Minister, takes on a different advocacy approach where the artist pleads to citizen of Bhutan, the prime minister and members of parliament to closely work together to make democracy, a gift and a responsibility handed down from the golden throne, flourish in Bhutan. The first verse brings out the division of friends and families in our country created due to different political opinions, caste, religion and belonging in different regions of the country.

In the second verse, he pleads everyone to cast their precious vote responsibly. He asks the listeners to not vote just because you get gifts from candidates or because of the social status of the candidate or any other reasons other than looking properly at the party’s pledges. He raps about the right to vote, the importance of voting in a democracy and how every one of us should work closely together to make democracy succeed.

In the chorus, Kezang calls on the citizens, members of the parliament and the prime minister and listen to his plea. He sings, ‘ I got something to say.’

Are you going to listen to Kezang’s plead? But first check out the song, which is available on our BCMD sound cloud account atwww.soundcloud.com/bcmd

 

  • Women in Local Governments – elected representatives and potential candidates

About 305 women in local government both elected representatives and potential candidates met in the capital for the Annual General Meeting, organised by BNEW. During the meeting, BCMD sensitised the women participants on building safe, productive and positive social media use and to explore the challenges of democratic governance.

The participants said that they started using social media apps to send audio messages to discuss any issues in their villages or to share news regarding their gewog (district).

The participants were also introduced to one of the BCMD resources such as a Radio Drama Series called ‘Jurwa’. They listened to an episode on women’s participation in local government elections. In this episode, the female protagonist, Yeshey, expresses her interest in wanting to stand for the local government election but her parents objects to it. He feels that women should be helping with the house chores and looking after the children. After listening to the episode, the participants shared openly about the challenges they faced as a female candidate and shared their experiences from the past local elections.

Your support will enable us to all do all this good work and more! Track our work in the coming year, and follow our progress. We count on your support

 

  • Educating for Citizenship

BCMD hosted a group of librarians, and early child care and non –formal education teachers to to learn and engage in the discussions on media, democracy and news in November and December.

The workshop is designed to show participants how to become more insightful news users at a time when Bhutan is receiving an unprecedented amount of information through digital media and as democracy continues to evolve.The participants learned the importance verification, independent sources and accuracy while reading the papers. The participants discussed the importance of feedback in the society, and agreed it is indeed a tool for a vibrant democracy. 

The participants listened to JURWA ( a radio drama , BCMD) and practiced how to lead discussions with their students and community members. This is to encourage discussion and dialogue in their communities about stories in our democracy, enhance their critical thinking skills , share their stories and their learning’s. The participants will also encourage their learners to give feedback and to have a peaceful discussions.The ECCD participants will use BCMD’s children’s book for story telling sessions and lead discussions with their students. These participants will also host listening groups ( JURWA) with the parents.

Participants included 15 READ Librarians on 18th Nov and  25 Non-formal education instructors and Early Child Care Development teachers on 8 and 9th December. We look forward to attending their classes to see how they will help us spread messages of democratic values and action.

Women in local government
Women in local government
Kezang Dorji performing Dear Prime Minister
Kezang Dorji performing Dear Prime Minister
 
   

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