Southeast Asia seminar towards rural development in Bhutan
The Royal University of Bhutan (RUB) in collaboration with the Kyoto University in Japan brought together of speakers and participants from Southeast Asia in Thimphu for a week long seminar that will end on 12 December.
The 42nd Southeast Asia seminar themed “Health and rural development based on the concept of Gross National Happiness” focuses on the challenges of health and rural development in Bhutan to explore the future possibility in the region.
According to the organizer, there has been a steady increase in the life expectancy around the world with advances in medicines and nutrition, but along with it comes economic, social and health challenges.
The seminar aims to deepen the understanding of Southeast Asia from various perspectives.
The Vice Chancellor of RUB, Nidup Dorji, said the community development and others aspects are important parts for overall strategy in the country. He said, “RUB has secret responsibility in developing the human capital and building the knowledge base of Bhutan's development.”
To share initiatives and development programs in health, education and rural development, the seminar invited guest speakers from Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, GNH Commission and Japan International Corporation Agency (JICA) in Bhutan.
Tracing the education journey in last 100 years, the education secretary, Karma Yeshey said the education sector in Bhutan has been regarded and prioritized in the plan. “The minimum of 25 percent to as high as 40 percent of plan outlays has been invested,” he said. “They have invested heavily into education.”
The secretary further added that the successful systems in the world became successful because of education. “We are very successful,” he said. “We have been blessed to have successive monarch that has been visionary and supported the development of the people and particular the human capital.”
Likewise, Dr Ugen Dophu, Secretary for health ministry, also shared the health ministry's activities in rural development. He said the health contributes to the happiness of people. “Scientific study has proven that happy people lives longer,” he said, adding that the happy people may achieve personal development.
The Ministry of Health in 2010 started the program “communitybased medical care for the elderly to empower communities to take care the elderly.
Dechen Pelmo, Sr. Planning Officer with the GNH Commission shared the concepts of GNH including four pillars and nine domains. She said the concept of GNH is supported by four pillars to exist. “Each of the four pillars must be put in place and continuously strengthen,” she said. “Even if one pillar is missing or out of balance, it would negatively impact to pursue the GNH.”
Meanwhile, the Chief Representative from JICA in Bhutan, Koji Yamada shared the success stories of community development initiated by JICA such as review of localspecific values, enabling environment for massparticipation and sustainable local economy.
Besides, he also reported the three implications for Bhutan on “schools are the hub for community building, interaction with urbanities and foreigners may create opportunities and local consumption of local products minimizes the cost for supply chain, and plugs the leakage”.
Koji Yamada said, “While, we always try to dream about big success, we should start with taking of small and locally, so that the local people could go for local products.”
In the opening statement, the Director for research and international relations at RUB, Pangchung said, JICA has extended activities for rural development and in various sectors. He said, “JICA has been an instrumental in the socioeconomic development of Bhutan.”
The seminar would serve as a platform for Bhutan to share issues and concerns relating to rural development and health. It is also an opportunity to share experiences and effective practices in the communities to decipher such issues in Bhutan.
To enable participants to reflect on current issues in their communities and learn from strategies and experiences of Bhutan, the seminar includes a study tour in Punakha and Wangdi Phodrang for the representatives from 12 Southeast and East Asia countries including Bhutan.
The speakers and participants also shared significant issues and concerns related to the health and rural development based on the concept of GNH.
The 42nd Southeast Asia seminar themed “Health and rural development based on the concept of Gross National Happiness” focuses on the challenges of health and rural development in Bhutan to explore the future possibility in the region