KP Sharma

The European Union (EU) and UNICEF committed one million Euros to enhance student’s learning experiences and skill development to boost employability and economic growth while reducing disparities.

The EU and UNICEF announced the funding yesterday at the end of a two-day stakeholder consultation workshop. The workshop discussed  a detailed plan for leveraging technology in education to tackle digital exclusion and promote modern skills.

The Ministry of Education and Skill Development’s STEM and Innovation Division, together with UNICEF, will implement this plan, according to a joint press release from the partners.

As of 2023, the World Skills Clock reported that about 66.9 percent of young people aged 15-24 in Bhutan don’t have digital skills, and around 79.8 percent lack the skills expected at the secondary education level.

The three-year programme will support the initiatives of the government to create a conducive environment for digitally transforming basic, secondary and technical/vocational education.

It aims to bridge the digital gap that learners faced during the pandemic and complements existing initiatives in Bhutan.

The initiatives is expected to further enhance the quality of digital learning by improving governance and policies, ensuring inclusive education and skills development for children. It will also build the capacity of stakeholders, including teachers, parents, and students, in digital skills, cybersecurity, online safety and digital content creation.

In addition, the programme will test and implement connectivity models suitable for digitalization.

Minister and Chargé d’ Affaires a.i., delegation of the European Union to India and Bhutan Seppo Nurmi, said that the initiative is a step towards empowering the youth by strengthening digitalisation in education and skills, for inclusive socio-economic development by ensuring systems, capacity and connectivity models are in place to enhance digital learning.

“Given the pervasive role of digital technology, improving digital skills would boost Bhutan’s economic competitiveness, while promoting social equality,” he added.

UNICEF Bhutan Representative, Andrea James said  that digital learning solutions must be designed and implemented in ways that promote inclusive learning for all children.

“As part of the initiative, the MoESD and partners will identify 10 schools across Bhutan and engage 2,000 students to test suitable and feasible connectivity models for digitalisation and scale up.”

Director General of the Department of School Education, Karma Galey, said that the funding support arrived at a crucial moment as Bhutan continues to transform its education system, with a strong focus on adopting digital technologies.

He added that the funding will support the government’s ongoing efforts to digitalise schools and adapt learning methods to meet the changing needs of the times.