The Sorry Saga of Bhutan's North

The Sorry Saga of Bhutan's North
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Monday, January 24, 2011

Unemployment Promises: 3.3 to 2.5 %

2.5 percent unemployment rate achievable: PM

23 January, 2011 - With the kind of progress made in employment of Bhutanese, the government is optimistic to bring down the unemployment rate to 2.5 percent by the end of 2012.
The prime minister Jigmi Y Thinley said this during the third quarterly review of accelerating Bhutan’s socio economic development (ABSD) on January 20 in Thimphu.

“It seems to me that at this rate, the target of ensuring the goal of an economy that doesn’t have an unemployment rate exceeding 2.5 percent will be achieved,” the prime minister said.

The labour and human resources ministry had in October last year, signed an understanding with the leading construction company Larsen and Toubro to train Bhutanese workers for hydropower projects.

Thirty-four technical graduates are already trained in construction from L&T in Kolkota and Mumbai with another 60 currently undergoing training.

Labour and human resources minister Dorji Wangdi said they are optimist that this would help bring down the unemployment rate from 3.3 percent today.

Technical graduates who are mostly class 10 drop outs would be trained in masonry, carpentry, plumbing and mechanical operation.

In next three months the company will again train about 100 technical graduates in construction and 40 in electrical section.

Lyonpo Dorji Wangdi said the reason for such initiative was to have national skilled work force for hydropower projects in the country. He said with 10 projects already on, these skilled workers could work in hydropower projects until 2025.

“It is important we train Bhutanese from now so that companies can employ them in hydropower projects,” the minister said. “Once a project completes, the ministry will make sure that most of them are employed in another.”

The only challenge, the minister mentioned was the limited number of applicants willing to take up in-country trainings. “The number increases when the training is outside,” he said.

Another similar agreement with Hindustan Construction Company and Gammon India is also under process.

Impressed with the labour ministry’s achievement, Lyonchhoen said the ministry has created 600 jobs against its target of 500 for 2010.

“A good number of them trained outside are able to find employment if they wished outside as well,” Lyonchhoen said. “This creates prospects of Bhutanese earning and working in various firms, industries outside the country and return home with the kind of skills to contribute to the development of our own economy.”

By Yangchen C Rinzin

238 schools still without sufficient water

Some have taps but no water (file photo)
Perspective 23 January, 2011 - Access to clean drinking water in Bhutanese schools is improving with 290 schools out of 576 having sufficient water supply systems irrespective of the availability of taps, according to the annual education report, 2010.

Ensuring every school with sufficient drinking water was one of the longer time aims of education ministry. However, there are still 238 schools without sufficient water supply. In sufficient or lack of clean drinking water is a major cause for water borne diseases and every year, students across the country suffer from waterborne diseases, especially diarrhea and typhoid.

The report stated that 23 schools reported neutral.

The director general of department of school education, Tshewang Tandin said supplying sufficient water to schools has always been a priority of the ministry. He said every new construction is planned at a place where there are enough water supplies.

However, Tshewang Tandin said this is a challenge to the ministry since water sources are getting dried up after some years because of several climate change phenomena.

Meanwhile, of the 101 boarding schools in the country, only 36 schools reported to have sufficient water supply with tap stand and 44 schools reported to have insufficient water supply including 11 schools without tap stand.

There are 475 day schools, of which 250 schools reported to have sufficient water supply. 27 day schools across the country don’t have taps.

Tshewang Tandin said, while analyzing the water supply situation, most of the shortages were because of sources drying up. “Many remote schools have sufficient water supply even without taps because they have water sources in the forms of streams near the school,” he said.

Water shortage in schools, according to teachers is a major problem always hindering daily study routine. Chimmi Rinzin, a teacher in a rural school said quite often students spent time fetching water from nearby streams while they should be in classrooms studying.

A Paro teacher said students of schools with insufficient water supply often falls sick suffering from common health problems related to lack of hygiene and sanitation.

Education officials said to ensure sufficient water supply in schools without sufficient drinking water, the continuous maintenance of water sources are being carried out.

By Dawa Gyelmo