The Department of Adult and Higher Education (DAHE) issued two advisories on safety and Bhutanese Student Associations (BSA) fund management to students studying abroad on January 23.

Chief programme officer with the Scholarship and Student Support Division, Baburam Sherpa, said the fund management advisory would serve as a guideline for new BSA presidents on how to process BSA fund. “Sometimes, ex-presidents do not orient the new presidents. So, they do not know how and when to process the fund.”

He said as the presidents, vice presidents and executives change every year, the advisory would serve as a reminder to the new leaders.

In a year, BSAs can submit two proposals – for July to December programmes, and January to June programmes.

The advisory states that an actual list of participants and realistic cost for the proposed events should accompany the proposals. Each student is entitled Nu 500 a proposal amounting to Nu 1,000 a person a year.

It states that the second proposal would not be processed if the expenditure statement and report of the events conducted for the first proposal is not submitted.

BSA fund is provided to celebrate national events for promoting Bhutan’s culture and tradition and to strengthen solidarity among Bhutanese students abroad.

DAHE also issued a safety advisory urging students abroad to exercise caution and self-restraint in times of public protests and social unrest.

Senior Program Officer with the division, Dolay Tshering, said that the advisory was issued as a strike or protest cannot be predicted. “We brief the scholarship students when they go but sometimes we are unable to meet students who go abroad through self funding. So, we issue advisories through the presidents from time to time.”

The safety advisory states that considering the risk, particularly to the safety of women, students should keep personal safety in mind and refrain from travelling alone, venturing out at night, undertaking unnecessary travels, participating in public protests, demonstrations and local politics.

The advisory urges students to travel in groups with known friends and to avoid night travels and outings. “It is crucial to alert and inform local authorities as well as Bhutanese embassy in case you sense any indication of danger or feel that your life is at risk before it is late.”

The advisory reminds BSA presidents to keep regular contact with Bhutanese students in the area, provide guidance and to keep the scholarship division updated on the students’ well – being and safety.

As of this month, there are about 781 undergraduate scholarship students in various countries such as India, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Canada and Australia.  India has the highest number of undergraduate scholarship students with 505 students, followed by 143 in Sri Lanka and 32 in Bangladesh.

Karma Cheki