The Social Policy Certificate Course has been institutionalised and integrated in Royal University of Bhutan’s (RUB) regular course. The Royal Civil Service Commission endorsed the curriculum and has committed to integrate the training in their plan.

This was revealed at the third cohort of the Certificate Course on Social Policy at the Samtse College of Education on December 19.

The social policy has been included as a module for the final year students of Sherubtse College.

The Social Policy Certificate Course aims to equip participants with a range of analytical, management and problem solving skills on policy formulation, enactment and effective implementation that is in the best interests of children, women and the most vulnerable. It also aims to understand the emerging gap between policy making and implementation, including live case studies on policy issues in Bhutan.

The course aims to provide the participants with the conceptual framework and practical skills necessary to succeed in designing and implementing effective social policy and in shaping and influencing evidence-based policymaking in the areas of health care, social services, justice, equality and education, with a specific focus on policy for children, youth, women, elders and vulnerable populations.

Sherubtse College, Institute for GNH Studies, and RUB in collaboration with UNICEF initiated the course in 2015. The first programme was held at Sherubtse College, in January 2016 and the second cohort was hosted by the College of Natural Resources, Lobesa in December 2016.

The third cohort of the Certificate Course on Social Policy began at the Samtse College of Education yesterday.

About 25 participants including parliamentarians, civil servants, and leaders of non-governmental and civil society organisations are taking part in the ten-day strategic capacity development programme.

A joint press release from RUB, Sherubtse College, and UNICEF states that in-country resource persons would bring a wealth of knowledge and experience, especially in terms of contextual and practical application of social policies.

Vice Chancellor of RUB, Nidup Dorji, said that sound social policies are instrumental as Bhutan prepares to graduate to middle income country status. “The government’s policy of decentralisation in the 12th Plan, including the allocation of 50 percent of the budget to the local levels, also calls for the need to build capacity of district officials, including local government, for social inclusiveness.”

UNICEF Bhutan’s Deputy Representative, Beate Dastel, said that upstream work in Bhutan is critical as the country embarks on the agenda of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). “The inter-linkages and integrated nature of the SDGs call for integrated solutions in improving the quality of basic services and the preparedness to deliver the goals.”

She said that institutionalisation of the Certificate Course on Social Policy, is a step forward in unwrapping development challenges and designing, through transformative leadership at all levels, and evidence-based policy making for positive change.

The press release states that UNICEF Bhutan has identified ‘capacity enhancement’ as a key strategy to influence and leverage government resources, align government policies and orient stakeholders towards the core priorities of social policy, governance and programme evaluation. “In this context, the main objective of the programme is to prepare parliamentarians, civil servants, civil society organizations and professionals in policy leadership, along with practical skills and rigorous analysis in designing and implementing of social policies through evidence building.”

Karma Cheki