Even as issues of rising unemployment continue to nag us, Bhutanese youth have begun breaking barriers.

They are excelling in sports. They are taking Bhutan into the space. They are expressing their creativity and curiosity in arts. They are forming groups to grow vegetables and to help the destitute. They are working hard abroad , while those at home continue to try becoming entrepreneurs.

In the face of the growing youth problems that

Bhutan is going through, these achievements, rare as they may be, still offer a glimmer of hope that our youth will do well. And they will if our policy makers, parents, teachers and the society create space for them to explore their talents.

We have for long said that the future of the nation lies in the hands of our youth. But we have for a much longer time seen youth as a problem. As an increasing number of youth remain jobless, take solace in drugs and alcohol and come in conflict with law, the society has come to fear its youth. When not feared, they are mocked.  The reaction towards fresh graduates who aspire to contest in the upcoming national council elections has been anything but encouraging.

In the process of becoming more literate and richer with better living standards, we have also become more cynical. We fear our youth will not complete college or land a job. We fear that this will push them into drugs or depression. We see the desperation of youth to go overseas and work but not their hope to do well there. We fear youth and their problems. We un-see the weak monitoring and implementation of policies that are framed for the well – being of the country’s future.

It is time the society change d its outlook towards youth. It is time our policy makers implement ed policies that were framed to empower the youth.  The Cabinet endorsed the national youth policy in 2011 but we are yet to see its impact. We have several agencies , including civil society organisations that cater to the youth , but not a single institution that is dedicated for the well – being of the youth.  All institutions tell our youth what they should do , but which agency listens to them and speaks for them when plans and policies are framed?

We don’t question the need for agencies to protect children and youth. They are essential. But in a country where youth make up about 24 percent of the population, we question the lack of an institution that is responsible for supporting youth, their dreams and hopes. We question the weak implementation of grand policies that do not appear to make a difference to the lives of our youth.

There is an urgent need for our policy makers to institutionalise an environment that taps the potential of our youth across the country. The priority sector lending scheme offers some hope in boosting entrepreneurship among the youth.  But for this, just as it is towards our outlook on youth, all institutions have to be on board.