Yangchen C Rinzin

Almost two years after the education ministry started revising the National Youth Policy 2011 to ensure that all needs and concerns of youth are addressed, officials said the revision is still incomplete.

Officials from the youth centre division said the revision could not be completed because the pandemic disrupted their consultations with stakeholders.

The policy revision started in 2019 and was scheduled to be ready by June 2020.

The ministry also decided to revise the policy because it was long overdue and the policy stated that it should be amended after five years. The revised policy was supposed to address the increasing challenges and issues related to youth.

An official explained that they could not conduct many consultations among government and non-government stakeholders last year.

She said that they, however, reviewed the policy and submitted it to the Gross National Happiness Commission (GNHC). “It was sent back with a recommendation to  submit the draft policy with the action plan.”

He said they are discussing the action plan on how to implement the policy by various agencies. “Consultation is important.”

The GNHC requires agencies submitting draft policies to develop the action plan to ensure that once the Cabinet approves the policy, it is implemented as planned so that there are no issues with implementation.

The education official said that once the revision is complete, it would be submitted to the committee of secretaries. “The policy is divided into seven themes of youth protection, recognising the due right of the youth, opportunities and how to be responsible.”

The revised policy will also re-define youth age between 10-24 years, explore means to protect adolescents and youth, have a national coordination mechanism for youth initiative and support youth groups.

The revised policy would include financial statements, as the absence of a fixed rate of allowance for youth participating in various programmes and activities has made it difficult for agencies engaging youth to provide basic needs and financial entitlements.

The official said that the finance ministry has also approved an allowance of Nu 750 for youth participating in programmes and activities.

A concept note seeking approval from the Cabinet to review the policy also mentioned that young people have emerging needs with changing times that require prioritising and there was a requirement to realign the policy with the relevant policies like Child Protection Act and Domestic Violence Act.

The revision will also look into synchronising various sectors to address the youth development work especially coordination and collaboration.

The policy has to be responsive and this can only happen if it is reviewed and revised according to the ministry.

Some also shared that agencies engage adolescents and youth in their programme, but in the absence of guidelines, there are various safety issues, which need to be taken care of.

The revision will also look into supporting youth groups where there are a number of emerging youth-led groups not registered as a Civil Society Organisation, which requires a policy directive on these groups.

It was found that more attention and priority has to be accorded to address issues, as youth are adversely affected or suffer from mental health, dysfunctional families, and use of social media.

The policy is also expected to strengthen coordination and collaboration among agencies that work for youth.

Edited by Tashi Dema