When things are going good with education, let there be compliments, for education defines the soul of the nation. And rightly has the sector shown us the way.

The Ministry of Education (MoE) has signed an agreement with two Bhutanese shoe firms in Thimphu that will supply shoes for the students of all the central schools in the country. We welcome the news.

This development points to the courage and the willingness of a government sector to look beyond the needs of both schools and the economy of the country. That’s vision. That’s looking at the future of the nation.

It will begin with central schools, but we hope that the agreement can extend farther afield because a well-spelt vision will have a long-term impact on the health of the nation. We have many government and private schools. What the ministry has done is shown us that we could, if we tried, foster for our own growth. That’s real education. That’s being far-sighted.

At a time when youth unemployment is growing, the real answer could be with our efforts to reduce our dependency.

In the end, it’s all about giving our own entrepreneurs a chance. If we did that, we would have been a blissfully self-sufficient nation. As a small nation that is compelled to depend very heavily on other nations even for our basic needs, this is a serious question. We need to ask questions, and we need to find answers. That’s being responsible citizen. That’s being a responsible government.

The ministry’s engagement with the entrepreneurs will help our production sector grow, which in turn will create many employment opportunities. It is when we do not feel the need to produce and feed ourselves that we have problems like youth unemployment that is growing by the day. The state must make ways for enterprising individuals to follow and accomplish their dreams. That too is nation building.

We have 10 ministries. If every ministry could think bigger than their plain workaday functions of running offices and developing toothless policies, we wouldn’t have employment problems. Agriculture, for example: What have we done besides setting up extension centres and giving our farmers vain hopes? Could we pool in land left fallow and encourage large-scale mechanised farming? That would in fact be more sensible than seeking answers through multi-sectorial approach to solving the growing rural to urban migration.

At the core of the national soul lies the dream of achieving self-sufficiency. It’s not a very difficult dream. Together we can make it a reality. But are we willing to get to that point? That’s the real question.

MoE has shown us the way. It depends entirely on our courage to think big and beyond. Self-sufficiency is one of our important dreams. It is upon us individually and together to make this dream come true. For a start, let’s look self-sufficiency through our shoes.