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Bhutanese children’s TV programme wins UNICEF Prize at Prix Jeunesse International Festival in Germany

By Karen Cirillo

NEW YORK, USA, 26 June 2012 – Sonam Phuntsho is a television producer for the Bhutan Broadcasting Service. His program, ‘Tashi and Sakteng’, was selected as one of 68 finalists at the recent Prix Jeunesse International Festival, where it won the UNICEF Prize.

UNICEF correspondent Chris Niles reports on ‘Tashi and Sakteng’, which took home the UNICEF Prize at the Prix Jeunesse International Festival in Germany.  Watch in RealPlayer


The Prix Jeunesse International is a biennial festival that promotes quality in television for children and youth worldwide. The festival, which took place from 1-6 June in Munich, Germany, gathered producers and broadcasters in viewing sessions, hands-on workshops and discussions, and presented awards for the world’s best programmes for children and youth.

Television for and about youth

Mr. Phuntsho travelled to Munich to represent his programme and to learn from fellow children’s producers. “It’s interesting how different people are giving different views on the same films that we watch. I’m learning a lot because there are a lot of great filmmakers here.”

His programme features 12-year-old Tashi, who lives in the mountains of Bhutan. Tashi is part of the Brokpa tribe, whose livelihood and wealth are linked to raising yaks. But Tashi also goes to school and believes that all children should be able to get an education, even if they are herdsman. The highlight of the show is a debate between Tashi, with his fellow students, and the village elders over whether the local youth should go to school. In the end, Tashi wins the debate, explaining that knowledge will help their tribe in many ways.

© Marco Orlando
Producer Sonam Phuntsho accepts the UNICEF Prize at the Prix Jeunesse International Festival in Munich, Germany.

The programme is part of a series of shows Mr. Phuntsho is producing that focus on young people in remote areas of Bhutan. He is struck by the increased migration of young people to urban areas and wants to encourage young people to find opportunities that will support their communities. He travels to villages and has young people write their stories, which he then films.

The UNICEF Prize

The UNICEF Prize at Prix Jeunesse celebrates members of the broadcast industry who are helping to raise awareness of children’s concerns and the basic human rights that all children deserve.

‘Tashi and Sakteng’ won the prize for its “address of the complex issues that arise when traditional culture is faced with modern development and how that affects young people and their future. The programme not only highlights the important children’s right to education, but also presents young people themselves trying to affect change for the youth around them.”

In countries where there are few television shows for young people, culturally appropriate and quality programming can be an empowering tool. Mr. Phuntsho explained that television is very new in Bhutan and that there are many competing programmes from outside networks. He hopes to make meaningful, educational programmes for Bhutanese youth that highlight their traditions and culture and help inspire them to both live full lives and be proud of their country.



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