In 1994, during the mid-term review of the 7th Plan, a kaja (command) was issued stating that all correspondents, register/muster roll, vehicle registration plates, phone directory, house address and house number, and sign boards should be in Dzongkha, the national language.
After 25 years, the Dzongkha Development Commission is trying to do the same. This time, it will reflect on their performance if it is not implemented.
The Commission has included making it compulsory to issue all government office orders, which includes appointment order, transfer order, relieving order, promotion order and officer orders in Dzongkha from this financial year.
DDC Secretary Tshewang Norbu said that it has become important to promote Dzongkha, as Dzongkha usage has decreased over the years and this is a cause of concern. Once the APA is signed with the Prime Minister, it will become compulsory.
The Secretary said that in 2017, DDC conducted a study focusing on the usage of Dzongkha through correspondents, office orders, notifications and circulars, which revealed that 90 percent of these were written in English and only 10 percent on an average were exchanged in Dzongkha.
Some of the offices did not have single letter written in Dzongkha.
“Article 1 Section 8 of the Constitution clearly states that Dzongkha is the national language of Bhutan and after 1971 department of education then had clearly made sure that Dzongkha language should be promoted both in writing and speaking,” the Secretary said. “However, we’re in 2019 today and yet, Dzongkha language usage is still very poor including the implementation.”
Tshewang Norbu said that there are several Kashos (Royal decree) and Kajas issued since 1993 mandating all meetings or official gatherings with the public and correspondences to be conducted in Dzongkha.
“Despite series of Kashos and Kajas issued to speak and write in Dzongkha, not many have followed,” he said. “Many are still comfortable using English to write office orders or other official letters although there are officials that can read and write in Dzongkha.”
Tshewang Norbu said that there is no definite answer on why it had failed to implement or it was never followed and no study was ever conducted.
He said these were some of the reasons why they included that in the indicator, as the DDC cannot enforce or has an Act to force them to write in Dzongkha. All the ministries and agencies’ APA must include one of the success indicators to write office orders in Dzongkha from this year.
“Although we had proposed in the APA to also have circular and notification in Dzongkha, the Government Performance Management Division (GPMD) had removed during the APA presentation,” the Secretary said. “This is just a start, we will slowly extend to other official correspondences.”
The DDC in its 12th Plan has also proposed a plan to survey the status of Dzongkha usage, competency rate and to see how much of the Dzongkha tools that DDC has developed are being used.
“This might help us capture why it was never followed. It is those at executive level, policy makers and decision makers that do not follow most of the time.”
Yangchen C Rinzin