ICT: The Nu 2.05 billion ICT Chiphen Rigpel project comes to a close today having met or exceeded all its objectives, according to the project’s report.

The ambitious Indian government assisted human capacity development project was designed to help Bhutan successfully transition to a modern IT enabled knowledge based society.

It was implemented by NIIT in April 2010 on the sidelines of the SAARC summit. A little over five years has passed since its implementation.

According to the project report, Chiphen Rigpel has provided ICT skills to a significant part of the Bhutanese population to become “confident and empowered citizens” of an ICT enabled world.

“The project has reached to all sections of Bhutanese society including leaders, civil servants, local government, teachers, schoolchildren, youth, underprivileged children and the monastic body,” it is stated.

The project was made up of six major components.

One was to bring ICT to schools by imparting computer education and computer aided education services in specified government higher secondary schools to develop computer literate students capable of interacting with and leveraging technology for learning. The project met its target of establishing computer labs in 168 schools and covering all children in classes 7-12.

Another component was to train teachers to use ICT tools and integrate ICT in the teaching and learning process. The project established seven training facilities and certified 5,204 teachers.

The third component focused on enabling e-governance by providing e-governance literacy for government leaders, civil servants, officials, managers, and executives. It was expected that those trained would be able to develop a leadership and workforce that understands the concept of e-governance and is able to efficiently envision, design and implement initiatives.

The project set up seven, instead of an initially planned four training centres, and a total of 7,396 were trained and certified.

The fourth component was designed to enhance employability by providing high-end IT training, vocational and basic IT literacy to create an IT literate workforce to meet immediate workforce requirements for existing and future IT and ITES industries. A total of 14 training facilities and 20,541 were certified under this component. The initial outcome was only 12,800 trained and certified.

The fifth component was to reached the unreached by bridging the rural-urban digital divide and providing access to education for rural citizens through informal learning. The goal was to provide a vital link for rural citizens to the formal education system and bring the rural population into the ICT fold. A total of 131 HiWEL or “hole in the wall” playground learning stations were set up and 131 operators trained.

Controlled studies showed that children with access to such stations demonstrated significant improvement in IT, science, mathematics, and English.

The last component included developing an e-waste management strategy so that Chiphen Rigpel could be sustainably implemented. The project reports points out that regulations on e-waste were accepted by the cabinet. Furthermore, concerned agencies received awareness trainings on e-waste, and a national e-waste implementation manual was accepted by the government.

A closing ceremony will be held in Thimphu today.

Gyalsten K Dorji