Youth Learn to Bring Changes
Students from 23 schools across Bhutan presented six proposals for action at the end of the 5th Youth Summit, “Change Begins With Me” held at the Royal Thimphu College in the capital city Thimphu from 11-14 July.
A total of 117 youths of schools from Dagana, Zhemgang, Samtse, and the Royal Academy conceptualised action plans that they would take on on issues such as:
- Global warming;
- Women empowerment;
- Divorce and its effects on youth;
- Mental health;
- The negative impact of social media; and
- Promoting self- reliance.
"From the outside, it always looks so good (referring to society and mental health situations ) but from the inside, it is terrible. It's full of fear. I and my friends want to create a more positive society by helping to spread awareness of mental health. We always tend to show that things are alright, but many youths face anxiety and challenges...,” said a student from Gomtu Middle Secondary School.
The summit was facilitated by 12 youths mostly from colleges who were trained in peer facilitation to co-facilitate with Bhutan Centre for Media and Democracy. UNICEF Bhutan funded the Youth Summit.
Youth Present Research Papers
As a follow up to the Winter Youth Initiative in January, 21 college-bound and out-of-college youth presented their research paper findings on a number of issues at the Summer Youth Initiative held from 2-5 July at the Royal Thimphu College.
The five research topics included Thimphu’s plastic ban, perceptions on LGBTQI, Internet consumption pattern, nutrition in boarding schools, recycled paper-based souvenirs. The participants also underwent training in Media Literacy to become smarter consumers of information and news. Participants explored values from the Five Habits of the Heart to be better prepared for daily challenges as citizens.
A 21-year-old college student from Thimphu said she had stopped being just somebody who complains and became one ‘who would change what I want changing’. Another participant remarked that he has gained the confidence to ‘influence the society and make a huge difference’. CISU supported the summer YI camp.
Teachers Prepare to Make an Impact in Communities
Speaking at the closing of Community Mapping Workshop on 9 August, Education secretary Yeshey encouraged teachers from Drukgyal Central School (DCS), Shaba Higher Secondary School (SHSS) and parents from Paro to inspire more people to take proactive citizen initiatives to resolve issues in communities.
"Community Mapping is a critical exercise - you have been trained to look at issues differently and solve these issues - you must now pick up from here so that it doesn't remain in the paper," said Yeshey.
Paro Dzongda Thinley said that it is more important now than ever that people learn to make a collective effort to resolve issues. "Community must think about what it can do to solve these issues...,'' said Thinley.
At the mapping training, which began from 4 August, teachers and parents learned the essence of studying communities by mapping strength, resources, and assets to tackle some of the issues of common concerns. Community Mapping guides the participants into developing skills such as interviewing, research that will enable them to engage proactively in their communities. "... I learned that posting on social media forums and pouring out frustrations to the leader is wrong. There is always an alternative like asset-based community mapping to resolve some of the issues in the locality," said Choki, DCS.
Bhutan Foundation supported the Project Mikhung.
CSOs Endorses Strategic Document
Under the theme of 'Building Solidarity', the 2019 Civil Society Organisation (CSO) Retreat held at Paro brought together 41 members from 24 CSOs of Bhutan to establish a collective voice in tabling pertinent issues and charting the way forward into the future of civil society landscape.
As such, the CSOs gathered were able to successfully review and endorse a strategic document that would guide the direction of civil society, which remains the greatest accomplishment of the retreat. Moreover, CSO Rules & Regulations were also reviewed, thematic groups updated to reflect the current realities of CSOs, and a Working Committee formed to steer the CSO development fund. All these efforts were ultimately directed towards making the landscape more enabling for CSOs to contribute towards the nation-building.
“It was the most participatory retreat that I have ever seen. All the decisions were taken democratically so we are actually being a really important element of democracy. I really appreciated it” said executive director of Handicraft Association of Bhutan, Chorten.
Helvetas Bhutan supported the CSO Retreat 2019.
Student Mappers to Implement Six Projects
The grade 9 student looked nervous as he made a pitch to the Paro town hall committee for his school to develop a volleyball court for youth in the Drugyel neighbourhood.
Recognising a lack of recreation for youth, the proposal was to enable youth to play volleyball and occupy themselves with a healthy sport.
“Dasho la, will (the Paro municipality) provide the school with a space for the court, la?”
This was one of six activities that students of Paro will undertake as part of the Building Community project being carried out in partnership with the Paro Thromde ( municipal authority).
Students mappers of Drukgyal Central School (DCS) and Shaba Higher Secondary School (SHSS) will implement six Local Action Projects (LAP) in their respective communities in October.
The Townhall Committee endorsed the projects after deliberating and providing guidance on the practicality of the solutions the student mappers presented at the 2nd Townhall Committee meeting on 27 September at Paro.
The six LAP are mostly awareness and advocacy campaigns on community cohesion, drinking water management, community safety, Menchu (hot spring) preservation, waste management, pedestrian safety, and building a volleyball court for youth. The Townhall Committee will also support the student mappers in their endeavour to improve community safety, drinking water and waste management, and youth engagement.
“Until I attended the community mapping workshop, whenever there were issues in school, I was like ...maybe the school will do it or the teachers will do it because I’m just a student and I have no role. But being in community mapping made me realise that I’m that ‘someone’ who can make a difference for my community,” said a student mapper from DCS, Wangmo.
Project Mikhung is supported by Bhutan Foundation.
Youths Undergo Podcast Training
A group of youths who were undergoing a week-long podcast training at Media Lab from 25 September will be presenting five stories, “Listening in the Dark” on pertinent social issues on Wed. 2 October.
Unlike previous years, this year's podcasting workshop was extended by five more days to allow participants to develop a podcast through meaningful storytelling. This was done to leverage on the power of stories within the context of existing social issues of democracy, to explore in-depth and not just skim the surface of problems they present.
The workshop was titled 'Dha Rei Na Ba' ( Now and the Future?) and was able to gather youths from various aspects such as counsellors, out-of-school, freelancers, young radio hosts and members from CLCS.
“The use of examples and analysing the audio makes the training very different. I plan to improve the radio station at College of Language and Culture Studies and also train some of the club members after going back to college” said a faculty member from CLCS Choney. The workshop is funded by CISU.
1. Students learn how to start change at an individual level.
2. Youths learn research at the policy level and its effectiveness, challenges, and shortcomings.
3. Teachers present their findings from the Community Mapping.
4. The retreat enabled CSOs to update their thematic group.
5. Students Present their Local Action Projects in the 2nd Townhall Meeting.
6. Youths edit their programmes at the media lab.