Another e-News Letter from BCMD from the Month of May!
Civil Society Space is Opening Up
The ambassador of the European Union to Bhutan, Tomasz Kozlowski said that in a “consolidating democracy” a strong civil society is important to contribute to the social and economic development of Bhutan. He was launching, the Euro 2.5 million programme supported by the European Union to support Civil Society (CS) on May 25 at the Gross National Happiness Commission (GNHC), Bhutan’s national planning agency.
BCMD thanked the EU and its taxpayers for their support of the CS sector over the next 40 months during the launch and noted that the support came after some direct consultations with Bhutanese Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), a move that CSOs appreciated.
The EU support will go to both CSOs (about 50), and community based organisations, which also number more than 50, with an intention to reach out to at least 15,000 people across Bhutan. They include the vulnerable and those living with the lowest living standards.
The ambassador cited ensuring better engagement of civil societies in sustainable development, strengthening CS operations and capacity building through trainings, support and networks as reasons for the EU’s support. The ambassador also said that the support is to improve the overall environment of civil society, as it’s a “new phenomena” in Bhutan.
A member of the European Parliament delegation said that “ civil society occurs not when government is strong but when citizens are strong”.
As part of our project to strengthen the networking of CS in Bhutan, BCMD and other CSOs have been discussing how the programme may look like and how activities can be supported. We look forward to the rolling out of the programme in August through Helvetas Inter-cooperation.
CSOs Urge for Improved Collaboration in SLS
Participants listening to one of the trainers from Singapore Management University during a Societal Leadership Summit in Thimphu last month.
Members of nearly 50 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and civil servants met at the Societal Leadership Summit (SLS) Bhutan 2017 – from May 2-4 at Thimphu to discuss issues, ideas and on how to improve collaboration, coordination and consolidation across sectors.
Works and Human Settlement Minister lyonpo, Dorji Choden graced the opening session of the summit on 2nd May. Lyonpo Dorji Choden said that we all must admit that Bhutan is transforming rapidly, not only in the area of social well-being and economic prosperity, but also in the system of governance. That is why she said that some 50 CSOs, which about a decade ago were unheard of, had gathered in the summit.
“This is an indication of active citizenry participation in the face of political change and this is the desire of our kings,” she said.
Home and Cultural Affairs Lyonpo, Dawa Gyaltshen also attended the Summit on 3rd May. During his afternoon presence in the summit, Lyonpo Dawa Gyaltshen reiterated the need to strengthen the CSOs and their roles and responsibilities in the country for the success of democracy.
The home minister said that the government is in the process of reviewing and amending the existing CSO Act to work towards strengthening the CSO sector.
He shared the possibilities of recommending an increase in the members in the Civil Society Organisation Authority secretariat.
The summit resulted in CSOs making a number of recommendations, most important one being CS’s participation in the review of the CSO Act. There were also some practical recommendations on how different groups of CSOs can work together more practically. The summit also showed participants why cross sector collaboration is important if we were to sustain our efforts for enabling and bringing about positive change to society.
The Summit was organised in partnership with the Societal Leadership Institute of the Singapore Management University in collaboration with the Bhutanese CSOs. Helvetas Inter-cooperation supported the event.
Training youth in multimedia
Students at READ in Changjiji are taught on handling of camera.
Shortly after our leadership summit this month that delved on co-ordination and collaboration, BCMD is now collaborating with READ Bhutan in a multimedia programme for 40 youth from the Changjiji community in Thimphu. BCMD trainers taught participants, basic photography, filmmaking, sound editing for the first time last week. BCMD will also be piloting the News and Media Literacy guidebook over the same programme period, which is aimed at educating youth on judicious use and consumption of media and information. We’re excited about this collaboration. READ and BCMD have been collaborating in the past with civic education activities for women learners.
Well keep you posted as the courses continue for the Changjiji youth with ages ranging from 13-18.
The year-long programme for the media literacy students from Motithang Higher Secondary School in Thimphu is going on for the last four months at the BCMD Media Lab at Nazhoen Pelri. The students and the teachers get hands-on experience on handling equipments such as cameras and recorders. We hope to skill both the teachers who are teaching media literacy at high school, and the students in the weekly programmes.
The participants also practice filmmaking and editing. This month, the participants completed a first milestone in their making of one-minute short films. A total of 19 one-minute films were screened and reviewed by other participants and the facilitator. Some of the films went on to encourage a lot of discussions among the participants. BCMD also conducted its first News and Media Literacy class to supplement the practical skills, and we hope this will make the youth smart users of the media, a handy skill in a democracy with a free and open social media.
CISU (Civil Society in Development) is supporting the ongoing activities at the lab and Filmmakers Without Borders is training the students at the lab.
Look out for the many summer activities coming up.
The first is a training of trainers for our partner schools, CSOs and BCMD on the use of Google apps that include sessions on how to counter offensive speech on social media and how to create youth social media camping in mid June.
Check out our website and FB page for announcements.