In another move towards encouraging the private sector and lowering imports, the education ministry has chosen a local socks manufacturing firm to supply its 51 Central Schools with socks.

This comes on the heels of its recent deal with two local shoe manufacturers to do the same.

We are confident that the education ministry will continue to make similar moves when it comes to the uniforms, stationary, toiletries, bedding, and other requirements as local manufacturers and suppliers emerge.

It is hoped the ministry aggressively pursues this policy in all other areas. Locally manufactured products should receive priority points.

The policy is an important one in terms of not only lowering the costs of providing education in Bhutan, but in ensuring that the country is moving towards self-sufficiency.

Of course, locally manufactured products must be of an acceptable standard. The goal is to reduce imports so if most of the raw materials for the production of a “local” product is being imported, its full potential in adding to the economy is not realised. There maybe some value addition such as job creation.

Such aspects will have to be considered and weighed when contracting out supply orders.

Given that we’re still in an early phase of the Central Schools, it is also important to ensure that supply of locally manufactured products is not disrupted for any reason. We cannot be experimenting with our students.

Strict monitoring must be carried out by the education ministry to ensure production levels are maintained and that deliveries will be on time. We would rather not write articles about a company failing to deliver on time given so-and-so challenge, and having to pay penalties because it would not change the fact that students will be affected.

At the same time, besides the production level, it is hoped that both the local firms and the education ministry ensure that quality is never compromised.

We are confident that the contracts will work out with proper monitoring, organisation, and effort from both sides.