Democracy: Youth unemployment, drug abuse, and teenage pregnancy, are some of the top agendas for the Bhutan Children’s Parliament (BPC) that started its formal session, yesterday.

BCP-National Assembly (NA) speaker, Tsheten Dorji said given the huge unemployment problem in the country, the members are going to deliberate the issue and look for solutions.

The members will also discuss the “one-teacher one-subject policy” where teachers’ should teach only subjects they are specialized in.

Tsheten Dorji said “one-teacher one-subject policy” will enhance professionalism as a result of which the quality of education will improve.

Today in many schools across the country, a teacher teaches many subjects regardless of specialization. It is mostly common in the schools where there is a shortage of teachers.

The members also said they will discuss the enrollment of children in government schools from age five. Members said it is time children are enrolled in school by age five and not six as currently practiced.

They also said that its unfair on the part of government to bar children who are not six from going to school when the children of teachers can begin school by age four-five.

The education rule does not allow children to enroll in school unless they reach the age of six but in some schools children of teacher aged below five are admitted.

Gelephu’s member of parliament (MP), Yeshi Jamtsho said they will try to identify the root causes of youth abusing drugs and alcohol. He said there are drug users as well as suppliers in Pelrithang Middle Secondary School. “As youth’s issues are better understood by youth, we will convey our issues to the government through this forum.”

Bumdelling MP, Dorji Tshering said to reduce the drug problem youth will be in a better position to find the solutions. He added that while the issue is being raised at the government and political level, the root cause is yet to be identified.

Gangzur-Minjey’s MP, Sherub Tenzin intends to raise the problem of walking distance between homes and schools. Citing an example of how students from Jang village in Lhuentse walk a minimum of two hours every day between home and school, Sherub Tenzin said the government should explore the possibility of providing buses.

Deputy speaker of BCP-National Council (NC), Thinley Namgyel wants to raise issues of sexual harassment and suicide in the schools and institutes. He said the BCP-NC will approach the issue in a holistic way.

The members also hope to deliberate child labour, sex education, improving computer and laptop facilities, rationalizing the teacher’s extra ordinary leave and sustainability of central schools.

The BPC-NA and BPC-NC sessions are being organized in two separate halls at the democracy house in Thimphu.

Yesterday, both the houses deliberated the Rules of Procedure of the Bhutan Children’s Parliament 2015 where they decided to hold the session every winter.

The BCP-NA finalized the duration of sessions from one week to two. However, the amendments will be passed during the joint session on January 7-8.

The proceedings of the BCP sessions will be submitted to His Majesty The King, Chief Justice, the Speaker of Parliament, Prime Minister, Chairperson of the National Council, and Leader of Opposition.

Kabji-Talo’s Tashi Gyeltshen said the BCP is a platform where issues related to youth and national issues can be raised.

“As students our issues hardly reached the national level but now with this forum we have the right to raise it without having to root through bureaucratic procedures,” he said.

Tenzin Namgyel