Skills: It is a busy afternoon at the community centre hall at Bikhar in Trashigang.

Some 15 villagers, men and women, are undergoing a month-long training to repair common kitchen electric appliances.

Among the group is Tshering Nidup, a BA degree holder from India. After completing his studies, he worked as a contract teacher for four years and returned to his village to take up farming for a living.

“Most of us in the villages own rice cookers, curry cookers and water boilers. After using them for a few years, these appliances get damaged and are found lying useless for want of repair services,” he said. “Villagers need to travel either to Trashigang or Samdrupjongkhar to repair them, which is expensive.”

So, he opted to gain from the “village skills development programme” that is being organised by the human resources department of the labour and human resources ministry.

“After learning these simple yet important skills, we can help ourselves and others in the community. We will be saving a lot,” he said. “A few days into the programme, we have already learned how to fix a rice cooker.”

Some women have also enrolled into the programme.

For Pema Yangzom, 39, this could be an opportunity to make some extra money in the future.

“Besides household chores, women in villages don’t have much to do. Financially, we have to depend on our spouses. Learning such skills will not only help generate income, it will also provide us with some independence and security,” she said.

Ministry’s focal person, Dorji Rinchen said the key objective of the programme is to impart relevant skills to the rural community and help enhance their incomes.

“We are encouraging these villagers to form groups and take up repair services. This way, there would be continuity to the programme and the skills imparted won’t be lost,” he said. “A similar programme was also conducted in Lumang gewog a few months back where 30 villagers were successfully trained.”

He added that they are primarily targeting villagers who are either school dropouts or job seekers with economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

“In the case of Bikhar, we were targeting to enroll 20 villagers but the turnout was less given that the farming season is at its peak,” he said. “Soon, we would also be taking the programme to other eastern dzongkhags under the Trashigang regional office.”

Meanwhile, the human resources department is also conducting a three-month long basic beautician course under the “special skills development programme” in Trashigang where 15 women with economically disadvantaged backgrounds are being trained.

Tshering Wangdi | Trashigang