The participants at the pariliament
Youth to Address Local Issues
A total of 24 students from schools in Thimphu and colleges like Sherubtse and Samtse College of Education participated in the Youth Initiative Camp that BCMD started in 2014. YI was started to empower youth to share their voice, impart skills in research, debate, and dialogue to build a strong community of active citizens across the country.
During their weeklong training, the participants divided into five regional groups proposed five projects they would work on after the residential camp.
Proposed Local Action Plans
- Zero Waste Policy
- Advocacy to Reduce Teenage Pregnancy
- 3Rs (Reuse, Reduce, and Recycle) of Paper
- Environmental Education
- Advocacy to Reduce Alcohol
Students from Samtse, a dzongkhag (district) in the southern foothills proposed a “Zero Waste Policy”. This project will study the causes of food waste in Samtse College of Education to frame a “Zero Waste Policy” that the group will propose the college to adopt.
The group from Thimphu consisting of youths from the capital city proposed an advocacy programme to educate youth on teenage pregnancy. The group will educate teenagers about the ill effects of teenage pregnancy for both girls and boys.
Students from Taktse Higher Secondary School and College of Language and Cultural Studies also from Taktse in Trongsa proposed to promote 3Rs to reduce waste through reuse, reduce, and recycle in the nearby communities.
Students from schools in Lobesa-Punakha proposed to educate communities living around the habitat of critically endangered White-Bellied Heron (Ardea insignis) on the critical state of the endangered bird. They will also visit schools to educate the students on the importance of the environment.
As alcoholism still remains a major problem in Bhutan, students from Sherubtse College and Rangjung in Trashigang will conduct advocacy on the negative effects of alcohol on health and families. The group will also work towards initiating plans to reduce illegal sale of alcohol in the college premises. We look forward to following the progress of the youth in their specified activities.
The five groups are being mentored to guide them as they undertake the projects.The YI Camp was supported by UNICEF, Bhutan and a group of five volunteers.
Building Active Citizens
Because democracy was introduced only about 10 years ago, civic engagement and roles of citizens are still new to most Bhutanese.
Bhutan Centre for Media and Democracy (BCMD) since 2008 has stepped in to educate a cross-section of society on the role of citizens and how to discover their strengths to resolve nagging local issues in their communities. Among many democratic approaches, BCMD has been piloting community mapping in a number of schools in Paro and Samdrup Jongkhar Dzongkhags (districts).
Community mapping is an asset-based approach, which focuses tapping into local resources, expertise, and knowledge to address community issues. This approach involves the community to identify, explore, and plan projects to implement developmental projects in their communities through a participatory approach. The programme aims to model a democratic approach to community development and to enhance civic consciousness in youth and local residents.
“We now have a sense of ownership because we carried out the work and feel the pinch if something goes wrong with our project,” a participant from Paro, Ruth.
In 2017, through support from IDEA International, BCMD successfully trained and implemented five projects in Paro. Students from Paro College of Education and schools implemented the following activities in various communities in Paro.
- Paro College of Education: Advocacy on Waste Management
- Shaba Higher Secondary School: Adoption of Spring Water Source at Kesa Village
- Drugyal Central School: Repair of Poorly Maintained Drainage on School Campus
- Shari Higher Secondary School: Maintenance of Drinking Water Supplies at Shari
- Khangkhu Middle Secondary School: Repaired a Canopy on its School Campus.
BCMD in collaboration with Samdrup Jongkhar Initiative implemented four local action plans in Samdrup Jongkhar. Canada Foundation supported the mapping Samdrup Jongkhar and the students from there implemented following activities:
- Dewathang Primary School: Improved Road Safety
- Garpawoong Middle Secondary School: Maintenance and Clearing of Drainage
- Jigme Namgyel Engineering College: Constructed Four-unit Public Toilets at Dudjom House (A monastery frequented by hundreds of devotees and tourists)
- Youth Development Centre: Waste Management Advocacy for Tenants of National Housing Development Corporation.
Community Mapping Results
- Trained and Involved Over 470 Teachers and Students
- Engaged Local Leaders, District and Thromde Officials, and Community Members in community development Through Shared Experience of Community Development
- Helped Educating Youths, Community Members, and Residents That Their Role as Citizens Extends Beyond Just Exercising Their Rights to Vote
- Empowered Youth with Skills of Inquiry, Research, and Critical Thinking and Analysis
- Inspired Young Minds, Community Members, Official from Dzongkhag (districts) and Thromde (municipal) to be Active Citizens and Agents of Change.
Creating Space for Creativity
Since it was established in 2013, Media Lab has become an important space for youth, civil society organisation (CSO) members to learn multimedia skills in audio, video, communication, debate, and networking.
Voices and expression are important in a democracy like Bhutan. The lab provides the space wherein youth can pick up skills of self-expression through media production. In doing so, they also learn critical thinking, code of ethics of media and expression. These will contribute to fulfilling the overall objective of the lab that is “To create a dynamic, intentional learning space that engages youth” and “giving youth a voice”. Many activities were conducted in 2017.
282 People Trained
14 Activities 20 Short Movies Produced
7 Talk Raven Talk Show Held
1 Music Video Launched
Just in 2017, over 282 youths, CSO members benefited from various programmes such as multimedia training, Youth Initiative, public speaking, basic photography training, google apps training, among others. In 2017, around 14 activities were held at media lab including, media literacy and a number of multimedia training for CSO members, communication advocacy, Google apps, and training of trainers.
Objectives of the Media Lab is:
- To provide the members with space and equipment
- To create space to build skills of youth n media production and to amplify youth voice and expression.
Services Available in the Media Lab
- Basic and Intermediate Photography
- Filmmaking and Editing
- Media Literacy
- Open-Mike Night
- Talk Shows
Reflecting Civil Society
Civil society in Bhutan might have taken a huge stride with receipt of a National Order of Merit (Gold) in 2016 from His Majesty The King, but sustainability remains a serious issue with most of the civil society organisations in the country today.
The Druk Journal holds a conversation with the release of every new issue. The last issue of The Druk Journal was on "Civil Society" in Bhutan.
“Sustainability” of CSOs was one of the main issues discussed during ‘The Druk Journal’ conversation held on February 9 at BCDM’s Media Lab at Nazhoen Pelri Complex. Over 41 people including the CSOs, representatives from Civil Society Organisation Authority, and educationists joined the conversation to share their ideas and thoughts on civil society.
The lively discussions also touched on the role of civil society, the historical development of civil society in Bhutan and the critical role of civil society as partners with government in ensuring that development reaches the last mile as described in the Sustainable Development Goals. The conversation touched on the need for Bhutan to maintain civility in our democracy.
“Always learn to say 'Thank You' no matter how big or small the contribution is,” Dechen.
During the conversation sustainability and fundraising were two dominant issues on, which discourse was held at length. One of the writers of the journal’s sixth issue, “Civil Society in Bhutan,” Lam said that the biggest challenge for emerging CSOs is more to do with sustaining their activities.
While proposals seem to be one of the ways to raise funds to sustain CSO activities, some of the prominent figures that worked in donor agencies have pointed out that the Bhutanese lag in writing compelling proposals.
WWF Country Representative, Dechen who also contributed an article said that the fundraising is science and requires a lot of skills. But he also shared that there are enough resources out there if people know how to leverage. “So it’s really about organisations yourselves and the way we do fundraising,” Dechen said.
The other simple trick for fundraising, he said is to be thankful. “Always learn to say “Thank You” no matter how big or small the contribution is,” Dechen said.
Speaking on the similar line, Bhutan Foundation Director of Development and External Relations, Tshering reiterated the need to say “Thank You”. “That’s the biggest part we see missing from a lot of our CSO partners,” Tshering.
“Even writing a simple note directly to the donor saying “Thank You” for the contribution you provided for helping Bhutan, I think that in itself makes a huge difference,” she said.
One advantage that she said the Bhutanese CSOs have is that the donors come to Bhutan to look at their projects. "CSOs in Bhutan have the opportunity to show the donors of what they are doing on the ground," she said.
But international consultant on sustainable development who currently lives in Bhutan, Pio said that CSOs don’t just have to say “Thank You” though it’s very important. But the CSOs have to be in a place where people come and tell the CSOs “Thank You to You”. “That’s where the CSOs want to get to. That’s where the CSOs around the world want to get to,” Pio said. The Conversation was supported by Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation.
CSOs Talk Collaboration
Civil society organisations (CSO) agreed to come together and work to build the nation through cooperation and collaboration in its annual CSO Retreat that ended on March 30th.
About 45 participants participated in the retreat to reflect on the state of civil society in Bhutan and to identify opportunities and issues that need to be addressed to strengthen the presence of the CSO fraternity in Bhutan. Participants also came together to strengthen networking and collaboration, and to take the CSO mission, vision forward by identifying some strategic directions for the next three years.
During the two-day discussions, the CSO members reflected on their own role in developing civil society in Bhutan and what drives their commitment to the issues they work for. While civil society is facing a number of challenges, they also provide opportunities for developing civil society as the participants discovered.
- Enhance collaboration and coordination
- Improve Leadership and governance
- Improve Communication
- Enhance visibility
- Mobilise Resources (build capacity and finance)
- Increase advocacy
- Specialise and focus
- Strengthen civil society core committee
- Advocate for a national level policy for a government to engage with the civil society
- Develop a communication plan to showcase civil society contributions
- Develop an endowment fund or trust fund
- Gain direct access to UN and development partner funds
- Engage media
- Enhance leadership and governance.
The retreat was held from March 29-30. BCMD organised the retreat in consultation the CSO Core Co-ordinating Committee with support from the EU/Helvetas Intercooperation.
Students Trained in Radio
Members of campus radio station at College of Language and Culture Studies, Rigzhung Lungta FM 91.1 FM were trained in radio writing from 5-7 March.
Bhutan Centre for Media and Democracy conducted the training to help enhance on-air, reporting, and radio magazine programme production. The radio station covers most of the gewogs in Trongsa including Drakteng and Tangsibji.
This cohort will further train other members of the college in the radio programme. The newly trained members take over to run Rigzhung Lungta 91.1FM after the present group graduates from the college.
The three-day training focused on the writing for radio, magazine production, and vocal exercises to go on air. CISU supported the training.
Youth Learn to Tell Stories
Members of civil society organisations (CSOs), government, and out-of-school youth were trained in multi-media production from March 24-27.
A total of 17 participants attended the multimedia training facilitated by a member of Friendship Association Denmark Bhutan, Marie Thesbjerg Denmark. Besides filming, the participants learned important elements of production such as framing, angling, script writing, research, and interview.
The training focused on the three main aspects of multimedia:
- Storytelling: Research, framing, angle, sources, and interviewing.
- Finding/Identifying Stories
- Script Writing
At the end of the training, five videos were produced on different themes. Following were the five movies.
1. Changing Faith: A story about a boy who worked hard to make a living to support the woman who adopted him.
2. The Parking Fee Collecter: It looks at a life of a parking fee collector struggling to make an honest living.
3. The Toilet Cleaner: The film highlights the struggles about mother cleaning toilets to ensure brighter future for her children.
4. Karma: Looks at the life of a caretaker in Changgangkha monastery.
5. Women Empowerment: A story about a woman who became an inspiration to start up a business.
Talking 10 Years Democracy
The Druk Journal held the Conversation on its seventh issue, “Democratisation of Bhutan”, on March 29 at the annual Civil Society Organisation (CSO) retreat in Phuentsholing.
Democracy was selected as a relevant theme with Bhutan holding the third parliamentary elections this year to help the electorate reflect on 10 years of its transition to democracy. The latest issue of the journal looks at various dimensions of democratic change in Bhutan through 18 articles written by international and Bhutanese writers. The Druk Journal provides an in-depth look at the process of democratisation.
The articles describe our smooth and peaceful transition to democracy to the tensions during elections and political debate in a small close-knit society. The issue also features articles on challenges of social media and its impact on the electoral process. Following the informal launch of the journal at the retreat, over 43 CSO members participated in the Conversation.
The Conversation inspired CSO members to think about their own role as CSOs in a democracy. The members shared their own understanding of democracy and the role of civil society in an evolving democracy.
Some of the members said that CSOs must make efforts to help government become more transparent and accountable.
The discussions covered questions like CSOs' roles in the governance of the country, gender perspectives and how social media can be tapped in a year of elections. Bhutan Network for Empowering Women Executive Director, Phuntshok said that the Bhutanese still do not trust women leadership despite the society’s high regard for women and being a gender egalitarian society. “In Bhutan, we run the risk of copying practices from other patrilineal societies, which are not really progressive,” Phuntshok said.
The members also pointed out a loss of trust as one of the major concerns in the country. “People do not trust media, political parties, or the leadership,” said one member. "We have a trust deficit."
The Druk Journal will be distributed to educational institutions, the parliament, libraries, and subscribers. Thanks to OSF and DIPD for the support of this edition of The Druk Journal.
Students Learn Newspaper Design
Media club members from the College of Language and Culture Studies (CLCS), College of Natural Resources (CNR), and Paro College of Education (PCE) were trained in Newspaper design from 17-18 March at Paro College of Education.
The training was organised to help media clubs of the respective colleges design their own bi-annual newsletters without having to outsource it. The training was conducted following a needs assessment survey after finding out that the clubs had difficulty in designing a newsletter because of the lack of design and layout training.
The participants learned newspaper design in Adobe Indesign and Photoshop applications. The training was a first of its kind for the media club students. A participant from Paro College of Education, Tashi shared that it was her first time using these softwares. Designing a newsletter was a new knowledge for her.
A lecturer from College of Language and Culture Studies, Choney said, “I have never been so satisfied after a training. I am excited about teaching my media club students,” Choney said.
Another participant from CNR, Tashi shared that the training gave her an important knowledge. “After attending this workshop I can say with confidence that we can now improve our college newsletters and magazine. It will help in standardising it, too,” Tashi said. CISU supported the training.
Refresher Course for Nuns and Monks
Nuns and monks from Thimphu who underwent “Basic Photography Training” last year were given a refresher course to enhance their photography skills.
Bhutan Centre for Media and Democracy conducted the training in collaboration with UNICEF Bhutan at the centre’s Media Lab from 22-23 February. A total of 10 nuns from Drubthob Thangtong Dewachen Nunnery and Dechen Phodrang Monastery and a few other adolescents attended the refresher course facilitated by local photographers.
Most of the time the monks and nuns are left out of such training, but when we are given an opportunity, we do our best...,” Rinchen.
The participants underwent a basic training in October last year. During this refresher training, the facilitators helped the participants review the photographs from an exhibition in 2017 and went out for a shooting.
The photography training has come as an opportunity to monks and nuns, who normally are uninvolved in such activities. “Most of the time the monks and nuns are left out of such training but when we are given an opportunity we do our best. We will share what we have learned from this training with our friends,” Rinchen, a nun from Thangtong Dewachen Nunnery said.
By enabling monks and nuns to learn photography, we are also giving them an opportunity for self-expression. The group with other adolescents will conduct their second exhibition in April. The refresher course was supported by UNICEF Bhutan.
Teachers Trained in Mapping
For a democracy to succeed, everything cannot be left for the government, but many people do not understand that democracy is also about responsibility as much as the rights of the people.
Bhutan Centre for Media and Democracy (BCMD) has been initiating community mapping activities to instill civic consciousness among the Bhutanese people to help build community and sense of active citizenship. After the centre successfully trained and implemented a number of projects in Paro and Samdrup Jongkhar, another group of teachers, out-of-school youths, Samdrup Jongkhar Initiative, and dzongkhag officials were trained in community mapping in February.
Teachers mapping their communities in Paro
The lab is open for membership now
Sustainability remains a big issue for CSOs
Civil society organisations to work together
This group will take over the radio station
Participants during their shooting
CSOs talked about collaboration with government
Students will design better their news letter
Monks and nuns learn advanced photography
Teachers at the community mapping training