The competition was organized as part of the Chiphen Rigpel project 

ICT: Biren Sharma and Yogesh Sharma, both students of Peljorling Higher Secondary School (HSS) in Samtse, were declared the winners of the Chiphen Rigpel Digital Champ competition and as a result won full scholarships to pursue their graduate education at the NIIT University in India, yesterday.

The Chiphen Rigpel Digital Champ competition was organized by the education ministry and the Indian multinational skills development company NIIT, for students between classes 8 and 12, to showcase their skills and knowledge that they acquired through the Chiphen Rigpel project that was being imparted in various schools and institutes in the country for the past five years.

The competition was divided into four groups with students of classes 7-8, 9-10, 11, and 12 being grouped separately.

Biren and Yogesh, class XII students, won the competition by designing a website that provided information about the impact of mobile technology on society.

While both had been interested in website design, the course allowed them to pick up HTML, the language used to create and build websites.

While Yogesh’s father was able to provide him with a desktop computer, Biren said he did not have one at home. Both of their parents are farmers. Besides the scholarships, the two were also awarded laptop computers.

“Of course we will,” a smiling Biren said, on whether they will in fact take up the scholarships and pursue an IT education at NIIT.

Winners in other categories also won laptops, while runners up received smart phones and tablets.

Punakha HSS were the runners up in the class 12 category.

NIIT Global Technology Strategy President, Udai Singh, shared his thoughts on the Chiphen Rigpel project and the contest. “Very rarely does one get to be part of a movement that has the potential to change the fortunes of an entire nation and have a lasting impact on generations to come,” he said. “Children are the future of any nation and with what we’ve seen, the level of participation in the project, and specifically this competition, I can say with some confidence that the future of Bhutan is looking bright,” he added.

Udai Singh pointed out that the computer is the most used general tool at our disposal, today. “As responsible citizens, it is our duty to the nation to become competent at using this tool and applying it effectively in a myriad of daily situations,” he said.

He pointed out that the students had successfully demonstrated their desire and capability to master the tool as evident by their performance. In the final round of the competition, the students had to perform with a time limit, in addition to applying theoretical knowledge gained during their courses. “All those who’ve participated today are indeed champions, there are no losers over here,” he said.

“I’ve often heard that the serene environment and natural beauty of Bhutan, and peaceful culture of Bhutan, was perhaps not conducive to the cut throat competition that is there at the global workplace,” he said, adding that the students had proved otherwise.

“This competitive spirit is to be nurtured and I’m hopeful that in its vision for education, the government of Bhutan continues to foster healthy competition through these events and prepares future generations to compete at the global level.”

It was also pointed out that NIIT has been supporting the Youth Development Fund over the past three years. At least 12 students have received scholarships and have completed 6-12 month IT courses at NIIT.

Indian ambassador to Bhutan, Gautam Bambawale, guest of honour at the event, explained to the students in attendance how information technology is a “great leveller” and that large amounts of information can now be accessed by anyone, even in the remotest parts of the world, at the click of a button.

“The question before you now is how to make optimal use of the huge information resources which are made available to you by these new technologies,” the ambassador said. “Those of you who will be good at accessing, digesting, analyzing and utilizing such information will come out on top,” he added. “You will be the future leaders of Bhutan and the world.”

He hoped that the students understood that the tools and powers available to the students were a result of the Chiphen Rigpel project. He suggested that such competitions continue to be held.

In the class 11 group, Punakha HSS were the winners for creating and editing a video on the impact of mobile technology on youth, followed by Jampeling HSS in Trashigang.

In the class 9-10 group, Orong HSS won for designing a poster that displayed living in harmony with nature. The runners up was Mendrelgang central school.

In the 7-8 group, Damphu Lower Secondary School won for creating a power point presentation on the impact of computer based tools on learning. The runners up were Chumey Middle Secondary school.

A total of 184 schools took part in the competition, including 16 private ones.

More than 100,000 students have been taught skills in office automation, image, video and audio processing, website construction, among several others.

The over Nu 2 billion Chiphen Rigpel project, which ends in December, this year, is funded by the Indian government.

Gyalsten K Dorji