The fourth youth summit themed ‘be the change’ started yesterday in Thimphu with more than 100 youth participants from across the country.
Bhutan Centre for Media and Democracy (BCMD) initiated the youth summit in 2015 to engage youth during the summer vacation to supplement efforts to nurture socially conscious citizenry inspired to bring about positive change in the society.
A press release from BCMD states that the summit as an inclusive forum for youth from different socio-economic backgrounds, academic standings and gender identities – the programme takes the youth through a reflective process of self-discovery, understanding socio-economic issues and the role of youth in democracy. “BCMD aims to enable them to understand that democracy is not just about voting alone, but about our everyday actions, and the depth of our discussions on a variety of societal issues.”
The participants are from diverse backgrounds of school, nursing and college students, from the LGBTQ+ community and youth in transition.
BCMD’s executive director, Siok Sian Pek Dorji, said that through the summit youth could come together to network, discuss issues and realise their role in the community and democracy.
Director of Programmes and development with BCMD, Chencho Lhamu said that the registration to participate in the summit is open and inclusive to all youth. “The peer facilitators are also youth who have already attended BCMD programmes. We have groomed them to be youth facilitators.”
The summit has twin objectives, she said – for the youth participants to network, discover issues and their role and develop a project idea at the end of the programme and the facilitators to be provided with real life experience and youth facilitation skills such as coordination, organisation and how to lead. “For this group of youth we complete the circle by giving them theoretical input and then they get to experience in real life settings. We are grooming a cohort of youth who can lead other youth.”
Ratna Bahadur Dahal a teacher at Yebilaptsa Central School, Zhemgang has been attending the summit since he was a student at Ugyen Academy in Punakha.
Having attended all the summits so far, he has returned as a peer facilitator this year.
The summit has 12 peer facilitators.
He said that he along with his student participants initiated compost making and footpath construction in his community as a follow up action of the summit.
The student participants constructed a footpath leading to Tingtinbi town and have started making their own compost in school.
He said that the students initiated the project after noticing improper dumping of leaves, branches and degradable kitchen waste. “The youth summit is helping young people realise their own potential in bringing changes in their communities.”
Along with him, there are 20 students from Yebilaptsa Central School, some of whom are in Thimphu for the first time. “Along with attending the summit, the school also wanted to give the students exposure,” Ratna Bahadur Dahal said.
The summit ends on July 14.