Civic education and civic engagement are only as old as our democracy. Many Bhutanese still do not understand that their roles and responsibilities as citizen extends beyond voting and electing their representatives.
In 2008, Bhutan Centre for Media and Democracy (BCMD) stepped in and has made numerous attempts to educate the citizens of a young democracy, their roles and responsibilities in a democratic institution through various programmes.
These programmes have also gone into producing a cohort of active citizens in tackling issues in their own communities against the conventional approach of waiting for the state to resolve even the problems that communities can resolve. One such programme has been community mapping through, which youths in Paro and Samdrup Jongkhar have managed to ensure safe drinking water to Kaysa village and repaired poorly maintained drainages on a school campus, among others.
Community Mapping is an asset-based approach to community development. The focus of this approach is to discover and mobilise local resources, expertise, and knowledge to address community issues. Premised on the belief that members of a community are in a better position to understand their context, this approach involves the community in exploring, planning and implementing developmental projects in the communities.
Community mapping is being piloted in different regions educate youth, teachers, and residents on how to tap into their strengths to resolve small local issues. Following the successes we have had from the previous pilot projects, BCMD in collaboration with Samdrup Jongkhar Initiative will train a cohort of teachers, out-of-school youths, members of civil society organisations, and other agencies from January 31 to 5th February 2018 at Jigme Namgyel Engineering College in the mapping.
Aims and Objectives of community mapping are:
This pilot programme aims to model a democratic approach to community development and to enhance civic consciousness in youth and local residents. The programme will support the development of a community group to design and plan town hall meetings using more participatory approaches.
The programme is expected to:
Model a more democratic approach to community dialogue with the government.
Empower teachers, youth, local leaders, residents, civil society and local authorities to be more engaged and consultative in local community development issues.
To give youth and local residents (non-state actors) the shared experience of citizen engagement and actions as people from across section of society are mobilised to address local issues.
Empower youth with skills of inquiry, research, and critical thinking
Inspire youth as community-based change agents with a sense of responsibility for their community.
Help us spread the civic education by sending us your reporters on January 31 to 5th February #Jigme Namgyel Engineering College.
Asst. Programme Officer, Karma Yonten #BCMD