Chhimi Dema

Digital Tshe-Thar. What is it?

Ironically, as Bhutan strives to become an ICT-driven society, the digital divide—the gap between those able to benefit from the digital age and those not so—appears to be widening.

Digital Tshe-Thar is a citizen’s initiative to narrow that gap that began as a Facebook group from the first week of February.

The initiative itself was launched on February 17.

Sonam Norbu, a founding member, said that Digital Tshe-Thar was an initiative to support, enable and empower communities with access to digital devices and to help bridge the digital divide in communities.

“With the new normal curriculum and education policies, we saw blended learning taking place. Hence, we’re fostering online learning as well,” Sonam Norbu said. “Digital devices are, now, a need.”

How does it work?

The team collects used electronic devices and gives them to those who need them.

Sonam Norbu said that the group would collect e-waste from within the country and try to give new life to the devices through the initiative. “However, we won’t bring or accept devices from outside the country.”

Sonam Norbu said that digital divide was bigger in the urban areas.  He said that in rural areas the digital gap was narrow with many without access to technologies.

The group will, therefore, collect the devices, upload educational applications, and distribute them to the communities in Thimphu as a pilot project.

“After distribution, we’ll monitor and study the impact; how the devices are used and how helpful they are to the people,” Sonam Norbu said.

“If the initiative goes well, we’ll focus on creating digitally-empowered communities to supplement and complement the government’s Digital Drukyul Flagship Programme,” he said.