The first session is scheduled for January 4 to 6

Democracy: Tshering Yangden, an elected member of Samtse’s Ugyentse-Yoeseltse constituency wants to raise the issue of declining use of the national language, Dzongkha, during the first Bhutan Children’s Parliament (BCP)-National Assembly (NA) that will convene on January 4 to 6, 2016.

The 17-year-old student of Yoeseltse Middle Secondary School, who is in Thimphu with 62 other student parliamentarians, intends to understand why Bhutanese are losing interest in the national language.

During an opening orientation of the members at the Democracy House in Thimphu yesterday, Tsering Yangden asked the education minister, Mingbo Drukpa whether Dzongkha could become a compulsory curriculum in the exams. “Students did not bother much when Dzongkha is optional as a result of which the language is declining,” Tshering Yangchen said.

Other likely agendas for both the BCP-NA and BCP-National Council (NC), both of which will start from January 4, 2016 are rule of procedures for BCP, issues thematic to youth and children, sustainability of central schools, closing of the Education City, among others.

The 63 members of the BCP (MBCP) that comprise 43 MBPC-NA and 20 MBCP-NC have been attending the orientation programme where they are briefed on various aspects of Bhutanese democracy and the electoral system.

Four MBCP of NA are missing as Sombaykha constituency in Haa, Kengkhar_Weringla of Monggar, Khar_Yurung in Pema Gatshel and Lingmukha_Toedwang in Punakha do not have members as there are no Democracy Clubs in the constituencies.

During the three-day orientation programme various speakers from different agencies including the speaker, Jigme Zangpo,  the Prime Minister, Tshering Tobgay, the NC’s Chairman, Dasho Sonam Kinga, ministers, former Chief Justice Lyonpo Sonam Tobgye, former Chief Election Commissioner, Dasho Kunzang Wangdi, among others, will speak on various issues.

The education minister, Mingbo Drukpa talked about the benefits of Children’s Parliamentary while the Chief Justice, Lyonpo Tshering Wangchuk spoke about the system of democracy, rule of law and the Constitution.

On January 1, the members will elect the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker of BCP-NA and the Chairperson and the Deputy Chairperson of BCP-NC.

The BCP-NA and BCP-NC will commence from January 4 in two different halls following which they will have a joint sitting on January 7 and 8 where the Draft Rules of Procedure of BCP 2015 will be adopted and the minutes and resolutions of the first session be finalized.

ECB’s Electoral Registration and Delimitation Officiating Director, Sonam Tobgay said the resolutions of the BCP sessions will be submitted to His Majesty The King, Chief Justice, the Speaker of Parliament, Prime Minister, Chairperson of the National Council, and Leader of Opposition.

He said as BCP is an institution that enables school children to learn the principles and practice of electoral democracy and parliamentary procedures it is mostly likely that the members will bring out agendas related to youth and children. “But they also have the right to put up agenda that covers the larger interest of the public,” said Sonam Tobgay.

The BCP’s secretariat, which will be headed by a secretary general, will provide support in drafting the agendas and mobilizing funds and resources for the BCP.

Each democracy club can propose issues to be tabled at the BCP session through a democratic process and route it through the respective BCP member.

The members were elected from democracy clubs in the schools, and colleges including private schools.

Of 293 students who ran for the first-ever (BCP) elections on September this year, 63 were elected. There are 15 female members in BPC-NA and only two in BCP-NC.

The BCP will be the apex body of democracy clubs in the country and function like the Parliament and discuss pertinent issues.

Children, according to the constitution of the BCP, include all school going children, trainees and degree college students who are not older than twenty-four years.

According to the BCP Constitution, the Children’s Parliament will convene at least one formal session every year, in July or during the winter holidays. Each member will serve for two years.

Tenzin Namgyel