Tshering Namgyal | Mongar

The zhung dratshang (Central Monastic Body) conducted workshops to institute a social security system for monks and nuns.

The workshops were conducted regionally and the last regional workshop for the eastern region concluded last week in Mongar, where Lam Netens of Mongar and Trashigang rabdeys; drungchens of six eastern rabdey dratshangs; and principals of shedras (Buddhist colleges), goenzin (autonomous) dratsangs and monastic schools attended.

The workshops were conducted in Paro for the western region and Bumthang for the central region.

During the workshops, coordinators asked for the views of participants, and collected data through questionnaires. Most participants were in favour of a pension or some security system in place when monks or nuns retire from the clergy at the age of 61 so that they could practice dharma.

Mongar rabdey drungchen, Sonam Tobgay, said monks and nuns who remain in the clergy throughout their life are entitled for a monthly stipend of Nu 1,705. “The amount is limited and monks and nuns would benefit if there is a pension or other forms of security.”

He said the present stipend is just enough to refill an LPG gas cylinder.

According to the drungchen, a social security system would help retain monks who leave their education because of a lack of security in their old age.

Leytshog drungchen of zhung dratshang, Ugen Namgyel, coordinated the workshops and said the workshops were aimed at establishing a systematic pension fund in a professional manner through research and data gathering.

He said zhung dratshang is working closely with Bhutan Global Research consultancy for this purpose. “We have yet to determine the total amount and age limit.”

He said an executive-level workshop for lam netens and ranks above will discuss policies, plans, administrative functions and funding soon.

There are about 7,500 registered monks registered under zhung dratshang.

The workshops were funded by UNICEF.

Edited by Tashi Dema