Australia Awards (AA) will offer diploma and certificate level courses in areas of tourism and hospitality from next year.

This was shared yesterday at the farewell reception for AA scholarship recipients in Thimphu.

The diploma and certificate level courses would be offered in addition to short courses and informal learning opportunities.

A teacher of Wangsel Institute for the Deaf, Yeshi Gyeltshen, is one of the 14 Australia Awards (AA) scholarship recipients this year.

The teacher, who worked with the Institute for the last year three years, is selected from the 200 AA applicants.

Hard of hearing, he teaches Mathematics and Science subjects in Wangsel Institute. He will study Masters in Learning Intervention with a specialisation in Deaf Education at the University of Melbourne.

Australia’s deputy head of mission to India and Bhutan, Rod Hilton, while presenting the certificates to the awardees in Thimphu yesterday, said disability inclusion is a priority of Australia.

“Australia has some of the best education institutions in the world. Studying in Australia presents a great opportunity for the recipients to enhance their knowledge and skills, and develop long-term linkages,” he said.

He said the awardees this year join thousands of Bhutanese who have studied in Australia since Bhutan joined the Colombo Plan in 1962. “Six out of 10 cabinet ministers today in Bhutan studied in Australia and I am sure many alumni will become ministers in future.”

The chairperson of the Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC), Dasho Karma Tshiteem, who is also an AA alumnus, congratulated the recipients and thanked the Australian government for their continued support to Bhutan in human resource development.

“The Australia Awards are highly sought after because of the prestige, strong support by its processes, and high importance given to social equity factors such as gender and disability,” he said.

Dasho Karma Tshiteem said providing a scholarship to a person with hearing difficulty is a testament of Australia government’s commitment to give importance to people with disability.

“Not many people living with disability receive scholarship as it requires a lot of hard work for the scholarship provider,” he said.

The director general of the Department of Employment and Human Resources, Sherab Tenzin said human resource development outside public service, particularly the private sector, is important to Bhutan’s socio-economic development.

“Australia’s continuous support in this sector will have far-reaching long-term impact,” he said.

The regional alumni pledged to be champions of the environment and safeguard earth, nature, atmosphere and environment.

During the four-day regional workshop AA conducted for its alumni from South and West Asia ‘Australia Awards Alumni as Champions for the Environment and Climate Action’ in Thimphu, three projects received grants to implement environment and climate action initiatives.

Of the 14 project proposals, the project ‘Community Empowerment and Action Against Illegal Stone Extraction for the Preservation of the Natural Environment’ from Bangladesh bagged the first position. A project from Pakistan ‘Awareness and Community Engagement Campaign Across Pakistan for Climate Change and Environmental Protection’ took the second position while project ‘Cradle to Cradle: Empowering School Children to be Catalysts for Preserving the Environment and Tackling Climate Change’ from Sri Lanka was third.

Rod Hilton said he was impressed by the quality of the alumni-led innovative projects, which reflects the success of the AA programme in developing high-achieving leaders in the region. The 14 scholarship recipients this year will join 60 other Bhutanese studying on scholarship in Australia.

Besides those studying on scholarships, he said there are 2,017 Bhutanese studying in Australia today who will return to apply their experience and knowledge to Bhutan’s development.

Applications for the next round of AAs will open on February 1 next year.

Tashi Dema