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What have we learnt?

There are several lessons to learn from the Learn and Earn programme in Japan.

It involves hundreds of youth and their families, two elected governments, the same old opposition and a new national council, a complacent bureaucracy, a nonchalant anti-corruption commission and an apathetic office of the attorney general.

Besides the theatrics of it on social media, the initiative to allow our youth, who are desperate for employment remains an orphaned programme today. It has no ownership. So there are no actions or accountability fixed. The last government left behind a programme it created for the new government to clean or cover up. The new government inherited the problem but could not do much to either clean it up or cover it up.

Where there should have been prompt interventions, emotions and umbrage now abound. What we are today confronted with is the result of our neglect, inactions and poor monitoring. It is a consequence of disregard to our youth and their problems. It is about unemployment, the biggest challenge facing us today. All these have brewed suspicion and convinced many that the government would not take any action.

It was inactions that led to the formation of the parents committee. Their representatives appealed to everyone they believed were in power to address their problems. From the government to the parliamentarians to investigating agencies to those in the media, all have heard their stories. Each tried to do something about it but the youth in Japan and those at home felt it was not enough.

On Tuesday afternoon, police arrested the two owners of the agency, Bhutan Employment Overseas (BEO) for alleged forgery of documents. Their arrest was received by many as an action that was long overdue. It made their appeal heard and made them hopeful for justice. The police are lauded for its promptness.

For those who are unaware of the whole story, Sonam Tamang, who is on life support in a hospital in Japan symbolises the plight of the youth there. While she is fighting for her life there, we are seeing her condition being used to keep the BEO case alive at home. The government has shared their concerns on Sonam’s health condition and assured the people of support to help bring her home.

The story of Sonam and many others like her be it at home or abroad tells us the story of our youth, who dream to work and live abroad.  It tells us a story about the poor monitoring of overseas employment programme, about the lukewarm response of policy makers, about life not always being greener on the other side and about the unemployment problem troubling our society.

It tells us that we have many lessons to learn.

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