The DAHE facility serves as an example for other online services in its ease of access and use 

G2C: Now into its third year, the Department of Adult and Higher Education’s (DAHE) online scholarship application service continues to save students and the department, time and money, and serves as an example of how other public services can be provided under the G2C (government to citizen) model.

A total of 755 applicants did not have to travel to Thimphu to apply for a scholarship, this year.

With no need to travel to the capital city, applicants were able to save on both costs and time.

If travelling all the way from Trashigang, transportation and accommodation costs can run into the thousands for the applicants.

A recent applicant, Choki Dorji, said that the bus fare alone would have left him Nu 1,500 lighter.  With no relatives to stay with in Thimphu and Bumthang, where the bus would stop over for the night, Choki Dorji would also have had to rent a hotel room, pay for food and, at times, either travel by bus or taxi in the city.  He would also have had to spend to make copies of documents to submit.

“It’s been very useful, especially for us coming from Khaling,” he said, referring to a town in Trashigang.

Like Choki, many others were spared the trip to Thimphu and the associated expenses.  Of 1,327 online applications, 57 percent were made from outside Thimphu.

According to statistics recorded by the G2C (government to citizen) office, 85 percent of the total online applicants found the system fast and easy to use.

One of the reasons for its ease of use is that the system can be accessed from any internet connected device.  More than 30 percent of applicants applied from an office, while 29 percent applied from home, another 29 percent from an internet cafe, three percent from a community centre and one percent from a gewog office.

Only 11 percent found the system slow, while four percent found it difficult to use.

Of the applicants, 51 percent were male and 49 percent female.

Officials on the other end of the online application have also found that life is easier: paperwork and risk of errors in merit ranking have been eliminated, as everything is calculated by technology.

“The offline process used to be cumbersome and time consuming, as each document had to be physically verified, so the procedure (was) quite lengthy,” DAHE scholarship chief officer Baburam Sherpa said.  Now, as long as all required and correct information is provided, verifying and processing an application is almost instant.

The online system also does not require documents like citizenship identity (CID) cards and security clearance certificates to be photocopied, scanned, and submitted. “Since the BCSEA (Bhutan Council for School Examinations and Assessment), census and the RBP database are interlinked, information from these organisations are auto fetched using their CID number and index number,” Baburam Sharma said.

However, there are still some kinks that need to be sorted out.

The system still does not include class X results.  Class X students still have to scan and upload documents.

Baburam Sharma said that, despite sensitising class 12 students annually, some were still unaware that they could apply for a scholarship online.  He added that there were also issues of CID and index numbers not matching. “Perhaps concerned agencies and the students need to ensure (they provide) the correct data.”

He also said that the system could be enhanced if applicants are able to choose their course online.

Meanwhile, Choki Dorji’s application was accepted and he has been selected to study mechanical engineering in India.

By Gyalsten K Dorji