Gross National Happiness Commission (GNHC), Royal Education Council (REC), and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) signed minutes of meeting yesterday in Thimphu. A project agreement was also signed between JICA Bhutan office and GNHC.

A programme to support Art Education in Bhutanese primary schools was signed to improve leadership skills among art teachers to teach visual arts in primary schools in Bhutan. The three-year project will be implemented from January 2018.

The project will provide training opportunities for art teachers, implement art activities to strengthen art curriculum, and exhibits artworks in primary schools where teachers would be trained to prepare materials for holding art exhibition.

About three teachers will be sent to Japan for training every year until project ends. These teachers will be expected to teach other teachers after they return.

Japan’s Hamada Municipal Corporation for Education and Culture Promotion in partnership with the Royal Education Council and JICA Bhutan office will implement the project.

Sonam Dorji, curriculum developer with REC, said the project would improve the quality of art teachers in the pilot schools. The project has chosen one school each from Thimphu, Paro, and Haa for easy monitoring and support.

Sonam Dorji said that although art curriculum was fully introduced in 2013 in 65 schools, there are only a few art teachers with expertise. “The project will tackle such issue. We will make sure that we select the best art teachers for the training.”

There are 208 primary schools with art as regular curriculum from pre-primary to Class IV. Fifty more schools will be added to the list.

The cultural exchange between Hamada City and Bhutan began since 1986 when Bhutan requested Japanese government’s guidance to promote handmade paper industry.

Technical Cooperation Project Agreement (record of discussion) for Power System Plan 2040 was also signed. The project proposal was officially considered by the Government of Japan through exchange of note on December 13, 2016. The final detailed planning survey for the project was completed on April 27.

Through this project, government of Japan will dispatch JICA experts, provide necessary equipment, including vehicles and support training in Japan. The department of hydropower and power system (DHPPS) will implement the two-year project.

Under this project, the authorities concerned will review the current situation and future prospect, formulate hydropower development plan, look at improvement of transmission system development plan, economic and financial analysis, environmental and social considerations, formulate power system plan 2040, and capacity development for future power system master plan.

Sonam P Wangdi, Director General with DHPPS, said this would contribute in developing better hydropower projects. “With technical assistance to further upgrade the capacity building, there would be quality project feasibility.”

Koji Yamada, Chief Representative of JICA Bhutan Office, said that about seven experts from Japan would be sent and about 3 million USD would be allocated for the project. This, he added, is an up-gradation of plan that was signed in 2003. “There are lot of developmental changes and situation. So we decided to extend our cooperation to update the plan. This would help identify potential hydropower development project.”

Yangchen C Rinzin