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Phurpa Lhamo 

Lyonchhen Dr Lotay Tshering’s State of the Nation report outlined some activities that are being rolled out. 

Education  sector needs the highest importance in the scheme of national development plans as reiterated in His Majesty’s speech in Punakha at the 113th National Day celebration.

A Royal Kasho was issued, which commanded that a time-bound Council for Education Reform be established to prepare a visionary and workable roadmap for education and the economy into the 21st century.

The Bhutan Baccalaureate system is one, which was first initiated in the Druk Gyalpoi Institute (DGI) in Pangbisa, 10 years ago.

The Ministry of Education signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with DGI on 7 February this year, the report stated, to try the concept at Wangbama Central School and Dechencholing Higher Secondary School, which was followed by an MoU to include 22 additional schools under the Bhutan Baccalaureate system.

“In preparation for the Bhutan Baccalaureate learning process, an immersion programme for 22 principals and 44 teachers was completed in July 2021. A six-month diploma programme was also initiated at the DGI for 66 new teachers,” report stated. 

The introduction of the New Normal Curriculum (NNC) Frameworks and new assessment system were some bold moves initiated this year. Lyonchhen’s report stated that 17 books were revised, and included financial literacy in various subjects.

As for the education flagship programme, projects such as construction of ICT labs and the distribution of desktops and laptops continued, and budget outlay of Nu 100 million was raised to Nu 900 million.

Among other initiatives in the education sector, Lyonchhen highlighted initiatives such as CodeMonkey—a gift from His Majesty The King, the MySherig app, and plans to further develop the Education Management Information System (EMIS). 

The report did not miss the mention of Vocational Education Training (TVET) reform strategic plan for a robust, resilient, and dynamic workforce pool.

The report states that invitation of experts and training of trainees had begun to provide more than 30 courses at the national diploma level in addition to the existing national diploma course.

 

Health

The ruling party’s biggest achievement has been in the health sector.

The State of the Nation report mentioned the two nationwide vaccination campaigns that were successfully rolled, achieving more than 90 percent coverage of the eligible population in the country.

Work, it stated, was underway to procure additional 180,000 doses of Pfizer vaccine (paediatric formulation) worth USD 1.314 million.

Despite concerns, when the regular referrals and services to hospitals outside Bhutan were resumed, continuous surveillance was maintained.

The health flagship programme launched this year aims to screen adults for H.pylori, screen women (aged 25-65) for cervical cancer, and screen women (aged 40-65) for breast cancer. The State of the Nation reported that, currently, 42,741 people have been screened for H.pylori, 8,068 women for cervical cancer, and 8,068 women for breast cancer.

The 40-bed Dewathang Hospital in Samdrupjongkhar also completed.

The introduction of Service with Care and Compassion Programme (PEN HEARTS) to ensure delivery of health services at home, care for the elderlies, the mobile cardiotocography or iCTG services, which is being implemented in 46 health centres, and the construction of a 150-bed Gyaltsuen Jetsun Pema Mother and Child Hospital in Thimphu, were also highlighted in Lyonchhen’s State of the Nation Report.

 

Women and children

This year, the government did away with the 30 percent customs duty on sanitary products. However, as reported in Kuensel, many girls and women still have not experienced a price fall on sanitary products in the market.

The national child policy is being reviewed by the Gross National Happiness Commission.

As of October this year, the police and RENEW received more than 700 cases of gender-based violence against women and girls during the pandemic.

The National Commission for Women and Children (NCWC) also received 396 cases to date.

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