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Bhutan: Newsline

Young Champions advocate EFA through Art and Quizzes

©UNICEF Bhutan/2008/Kinley Dorji
A boy from Thimphu participating in a drawing activity at the festival that asked participants to illustrate their thoughts on education.

THIMPHU, Bhutan, 6 April 2009 The Young Champions of Bhutan participated in a Youth Festival organized by the Department of Youth and Sports under the Ministry of Education this past December. The Youth Festival was funded by UNICEF through the Child Protection unit and was organized to encourage youth to take initiative as well as to allow children to participate in innovative programmes. While participants of the Youth Festival came from all the 20 Dzongkhags (Districts) in Bhutan, the Festival was open to the general public. Individuals ranging from toddlers to adults came to the festival to show their support as well as to participate in the initiatives organized by the youth representatives of Bhutan.

The Young Champions took part in the festival to advocate the Education for All (EFA) goals and to inform the general public on the current state of education in Bhutan. They set up an EFA Information and Activity Booth. The four Young Champions of Bhutan represent four youth-related organizations:

  • Youth Development Fund (a national NGO dealing with Youth issues and projects)
  • VAST-Voluntary Artists' Studio (an NGO working with young artists)
  • KUZOO (radio station dedicated to be the voice of the youth)
  • National Commission for Women and Children (established to monitor and coordinate activities related to the rights of women and children in Bhutan).

The EFA Information Booth was organized in such a way that each of Young Champions could promote their organizations' ideals as well as advocate EFA.

© UNICEF Bhutan/2008/Kinley Dorji
Children collecting fact sheets and Meena posters at an information booth set up by the Young Champions of Bhutan at a Youth Festival in Thimphu in December.

The Young Champions prepared an educational fact sheet about Bhutan and then quizzed participants. Information included the literacy rate of Bhutan, the disparities in the male and female literacy rates, the percentage of girls receiving scholarship abroad, and the meaning of terms such as ECCE (early childhood care and education), EFA and CRC (Conventions on the Rights of the Child). As incentives, the individuals who participated in the quiz were given educational and recreational books to encourage reading among the public, especially children.

Alongside the education quiz, art supplies were given to participants and they were asked to draw on any themes related to education. The Young Champion from VAST helped facilitate the activity by providing art tips and encouragement. Children who participated were also compensated with books., Posters from the popular Meena initiative were given as prizes.

The response to both activities was overwhelming. The success of this initiative could be attributed to the teamwork of the Young Champions and their ability to complement each others' skills and knowledge. Although it is hard to measure the impact of this initiative, judging by the response and the eagerness exuded by the participants, the Young Champions are hopeful that there is a small fraction of the Bhutanese population who are now a little more aware of the state of education in their country.


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