Choki Wangmo

Awareness on crop damage insurance and effective school agriculture programmes could encourage young people to take up agriculture as a means of livelihood and might be the way forward to address increasing youth unemployment issues in the country.

At the closing of a 9-day camp on Friday to review the National Youth Policy 2011 (NYP) in Thimphu, about 24 members of the Youth Initiative shared their views, experiences and recommendations included in the revised NYP.

Tshering Denkar, a college student, said that if Bhutan was to tackle high rate of youth unemployment, the government ought to create conducive environment for youth to engage in agribusiness.

“It would then encourage young people to take up farming as an acceptable form of self-employment,” Tshering Denkar said.

Young people lack interest in agriculture due to lack of skills and unpredictability of yield besides limited market, funds, and technology.

Karma Lhatsho Dorji, a participant, said that as a policy statement in NYP stated Bhutanese youth today were unaware of this rich cultural heritage and were being affected and influenced by the negative aspects of westernisation.”

The participants suggested expansion of media literacy programmes and providing funding to multimedia organisations and local film industry to promote Bhutanese culture. Closing generation gap was seen critically important.

The participants recommended the need to close generation gap between the old and the young by involving old people in storytelling activities.

Participants said that with changing technological and social scenarios, policy should address excess use of social media, cyber bullying and negative impact of television on youth. They also zoomed in on the need to address mental health issues among young people.

Statistical year Book of Bhutan 2019 reported 561 cases of depression in 2019 within a age range of 5-49, which according to youth, indicated the county’s lack of medical facilities to address the issue and recommended making the policy more inclusive.

The policy, they said, would also be able to address problems related to alcohol, substance abuse, non-communicable diseases, poor nutrition, menstrual health, abortion and suicide cases that are on the rise.

Recommendations put forward by the participants would be submitted to Department of Youth and Sports (DYS) and UNICEF through a national consultant, which will then be submitted to the Gross National Commission Secretariat for screening.

Funded by UNICEF, the programme was organised by Bhutan Centre for Media and Democracy in collaboration with DYS.

The participants included school goers and job seekers, who were selected based on their motivation letters.