A guideline for youth-led groups was launched at the first national consultation with youth on sustainable development in Thimphu yesterday to strengthen and enhance coordination and networking of youth groups across the country.
Titled ‘Young Bhutan Network: The Spirit of Youth’, the guideline is expected to streamline the operation of networks and strengthen the support system to help existing and emerging youth networks through a holistic mechanism.
It provides guidelines on communication, information and knowledge management, facilitation, collaborative activities, and communication channels.
The guideline states that for registration, youth groups should fulfill criteria such as having a strategic vision and goals, a minimum of eight members, structured organogram, and be apolitical, secular and not go against the laws and policies of the country.
The monitoring and evaluation of the youth groups would be done by Department of Youth and Sports (DYS) under education ministry.
The two-day national consultation is organised by DYS and UNICEF to provide an open and inclusive platform for young people to understand, dialogue and influence development.
The consultation is being participated by 80 youth from the youth centres in eight districts – Wangdue, Thimphu, Sarpang, Mongar, Paro, Chukha, Samdrupjongkhar, and Zhemgang.
The youth were also familarised with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the National Key Result Areas (NKRAs) of the 12th Plan.
Questions regarding improving education quality, unemployment and gender were raised during the consultation.
A student of Yangchenphu Higher Secondary School (YHSS), Sonam Rabgay, said that the 12th Plan included improving the quality of education and vocational skills. “When we say vocational skills, does that also include activities such as singing, which isn’t available right now?”
Responding to the question, planning officer with education ministry, Phurba, said that the 12th Plan would focus on improving the quality of education for productive youth.
He added that currently no vocational subject or a curriculum exists in the country. “We want to pilot vocational education in schools from grade nine to 12. We also want to initiate vocational clubs in schools.”
Although the plan isn’t finalised, discussion for a separate vocational and sports schools are in process.
Similarly, questions on the kind of activities to be implemented in the schools to promote gender equality were asked.
Phurba said that not many gender-related issues exist in the schools. “We have equal participation in the schools. We want to ensure that equal numbers of male and female are there in college, vocational field and technical sector.”
He added that activities would be framed in the due course of time.
Concerns regarding the usage of national language and dress were also raised by the participants.
A high school graduate, Dorji Wangdi said that the mismatch of education and opportunities are seen in the country. “Are we giving students the right education? Are we giving the right training for the opportunities available? Policy makers must think about it.”
UNICEF Bhutan Representative, Rudolf Schwenk, said that children, adolescents, and youth can become active citizens and make a huge difference to their own lives, to their communities and to their countries. “The theme for this year’s youth consultation focuses on how to harness the power of adolescent and youth to achieve the 17 SDGs by 2030.”
The Director General of DYS, Gholing Tshering, said that the participants would develop an action plan to be implemented in their respective dzongkhags. “With such a programme in place, we are indeed optimistic that our youth will play important roles in the implementation of the development activities thereby participating actively as well as shouldering responsibilities.”
Karma Cheki and Phurpa Lhamo