BCP: The Election Commission of Bhutan is expected to hold the first elections of Bhutan Children’s Parliament (BCP) in September.

Commissioner Deki Pema said the commission is reviewing budget requirements besides working on the election date.

In the build-up for the election, election officials are visiting democracy clubs in schools. There are 153 democracy clubs in the country.

The election of children’s parliament is a mirror election that will have two houses of the Parliament –National Assembly (NA) and National Council (NC).

The first session of the Children’s Parliament is expected to begin in winter.

The BCP will be the apex body of democracy clubs in the country and function like a parliament and discuss pertinent issues. The candidates will be members of democracy clubs.

Children, according to the constitution of the BCP, include all school going children, trainees and degree college students who are not older than twenty-four years.

Deki Pema said that Children’s Parliament will train children to be future leaders. The parliament is expected to promote active and constructive youth engagement in discussions that could contribute to the policy consideration at the national level.

“The future of Bhutan as a democratic nation rests on the children of today. Meaningful engagement right from childhood and adolescence will ensure a vibrant democracy as envisioned by our monarchs and as enshrined in the Constitution to secure the sovereignty of the nation, and to foster peace and happiness in the country,” Deki Pema said.

Deki Pema added that idea of Children’s Parliament was conceived by the commission to help students hone their leadership skills and to facilitate the articulation of opinions, views, hopes and aspirations of children.

Democracy clubs in schools function as mini-election commissions that conduct elections and organise events and activities to promote the understanding of Bhutanese electoral system and processes, democratic governance and institutions. The clubs encourage student to participate in decision-making process in schools and educational institutions.

Dorji Wangdi, Wangdue’s dzongkhag election officer, said students are excited about the upcoming election of Children’s Parliament. “They are asking us about the date and time of election,” he said. Wangdue has seven active democracy clubs.

Teachers said that teachers and students take Children’s Parliament seriously. Sonam Tobgay, principal of Dagapela Middle Secondary School, said the parliament will groom young people to become good citizens and future leaders. He added that election will not disturb regular activities of the schools.

A teacher from Sarpang High School said teachers and students regard democracy clubs and Children’s Parliament as useful and important for youth. “Some of our students have been to Punakha to sign the Constitution of Children’s Parliament. They are all very eager and positive about new developments taking place.”

The Constitution of Children’s Parliament was adopted on June 2, 2015 by 222 representatives of the 153 Democracy Clubs. The Constitution comprises of 16 Articles on various aspects of the parliament.

MB Subba