European Union and UNICEF partner to support Digitalisation in Education, in Bhutan

Joint Press Release

30 April 2024
A boy and girl infront of their computers
UNICEF Bhutan

THIMPHU April 30, 2024: The European Union and UNICEF announced a new partnership today to support digitalisation in education and skills, in Bhutan. This partnership was announced at the closing of a two-day stakeholder consultation workshop, to develop a comprehensive education technology framework that will identify and address digital exclusion and generate evidence on 21st-century skills.

Under the partnership, the European Union will provide funding of Euro One million with the objective to improve children’s learning experiences and skills development, contributing to greater employability and economic growth, as well as reducing disparities. The STEM and Innovation Division of the Ministry of Education and Skills Development (MoESD), Royal Government of Bhutan, will implement the initiative along with UNICEF.

As of 2023, around 66.9.8 per cent of youth in Bhutan in the age group 15-24 years lack digital skills and 79.8  per cent youth are without secondary level education skills according to the World Skills Clock, which monitors learning and skills trajectories globally and at the country level using a real time data model

The three-year programme complements existing initiatives of the Royal Government of Bhutan, towards creating an enabling environment for the digital transformation of basic, secondary and TVET (technical and vocational education training) education in the country and is a response towards bridging the digital divide learners experienced during the pandemic. The initiative will specifically:

  • Strengthen systems for an enriched and high-quality digital learning experience with improved digital governance and policy environment towards inclusive quality education and skills for children.
  • Enhance capacity of stakeholders, teachers, parents and students in digital skills, cybersecurity and online safety and digital content development.
  • Test and implement suitable and feasible connectivity models for digitalisation.

Director General of the Department of School Education, MoESD, Karma Galay said, “the digitalization of education is essential for helping our students develop the critical 21st-century skills they will need to succeed in the modern, technology-driven world. These skills include critical thinking, problem-solving, collaboration, creativity, and digital literacy - all of which are indispensable for our students to navigate the challenges and opportunities of the future.”

In order to deliver technology that works for the people, it is important that they know how to navigate the digital world.

Minister and Chargé d’ Affaires a.i., Delegation of the European Union to India and Bhutan, Seppo Nurmisaid, “EU is pleased to support Bhutan on its digital transition journey. This initiative is a step towards empowering the youth by strengthening digitalisation in education and skills, for inclusive socio-economic development by ensuring systems, capacity and connectivity models are in place to enhance digital learning.” He added, “Given the pervasive role of digital technology, improving digital skills would boost Bhutan's economic competitiveness, while promoting social equality.”

UNICEF Bhutan Representative Andrea James said this partnership has come at a time when Bhutan is transforming its education system following His Majesty’s vision. It has come at a time of transitions and transformations – all of which are set towards a vision of a developed Bhutan.

“In the digital environment, all of children’s rights are interconnected.  As partners, it is our responsibility, along with parents and caregivers, to mitigate the harms and expand the opportunities digital technology makes possible,” Andrea James said.

Digital learning solutions must be designed and implemented in ways that promote inclusive learning for all children. As part of the initiative, the MoESD and partners will identify 10 schools across Bhutan and engage 2,000 students to test suitable and feasible connectivity models for digitalisation and scale up.

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About the European Union (EU):

The EU, which consists of 27 countries, has the world's second-largest economy and its third-largest population, after China and India. Though richly diverse, the countries that make up the EU (its 'Member States') are all committed to the same basic values: peace, democracy, the rule of law, and respect for human rights. By creating a frontier-free single market and a single currency (the euro), which has been adopted by 20 Member States, the EU has given a significant boost to trade and employment.

EU-Bhutan relations: The European Union-Bhutan cooperation started with a development project in 1982, focusing on renewable natural resources. In 1985, diplomatic relations between the Royal Government of Bhutan and EU were established. The EU's current support for Bhutan under the 2021-2027 Multiannual Indicative Programme, focuses on three priority areas i.e. Climate Change and Green Growth, Good Governance for inclusive development; and Digital Transition in the education and public service delivery sectors. These areas have been allocated an amount of €31 million for the period 2021-2024, paid through the budget support modality. In addition to this, funds are given to projects in support of Sustainable Consumption and Production (€3.3 million), Civil Societies and their engagement with the Parliament (€3.4 million), Public Finance Management capacity development (€2 million) and Support to investments (€ 1.3 Million). 

Media contacts

Sonam Pelden
Communication Officer
UNICEF Bhutan
Tel: +975 17929484
Tel: +975 77714217

About UNICEF

UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.

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