Pelkhil School in Thimphu turned into a miniature marketplace of great ideas yesterday as 60 promising students from five high schools displayed their splendid creativity and admirable thirst for learning. It was heartening to see curious and confident young minds roll out fragrant novelties they created from knowledge that they acquired in classrooms.

Students put up an exhibition of soaps that they made from locally available ingredients. And soaps myriad there were, of shapes and colours and fragrances varied. Some of the homespun products that the students made had almost professional touch to them. It was a perfect example of how to put textbook information to practical use. That, indeed, is true learning.

At a time when youth unemployment is growing by the day, we are compelled to ask whether our education system is giving our children what they really need in this age of cut-throat economic competition – real education – that process of learning that not only gives our children vital knowledge and beliefs but also skills, values and habits that will stand them in good stead when they leave campus.

Let’s face it, bitter as truth often is: there is a serious mismatch between what we offer our children in schools and what reality demands of them when they land in the dizzying jungles of job market. That, however, does not mean that we are not trying to improve on our deficiencies. We have many schools and institutes that focus particularly on providing our children with vital skills.

Good thing is that nonprofit organisations like HAIKU (Happiness, Action, Imagination, Knowledge, and   Unity) that Royal Grandmother Ashi Kesang Choden Wangchuck helped establish step in to fill the gaps, to provide free education and leadership programmes for Bhutanese youth. Many such winter camps are organised for our young people so that they get to spend their vacation productively.

What the 60 students learnt with HAIKU is amazing. It helped them discover power latent in their being. What truly is education if not this?

All these are good signs that indicate we care how our young people should grow so that they become not burden but productive and responsible citizens of this country. All’s as it should be. It is incumbent on us, as elders, to groom our young nation builders.

We would not be doing our job as parents if we do encourage our children to take part in the many camps that various organisations like HAIKU organise for our children every winter. More than schools and teachers, much more than well-meaning supporters and organisations, it is our solemn responsibility as parents to bring our future leaders up in ways we will one day all be proud of.

All these happening, a great future lies for happy and forward-looking Drukyul.