Students participate in Youth and Democracy Forum


Students write their ideas on the wall during the forum. Photo Courtesy BCMD

The Bhutan Center for Media & Democracy (BCMD) is the first civil society organization to undertake the responsibility of promoting education in media and democracy and stimulating citizen's engagement in discussions on public interest. The BCMD is supported under UNDP's Good Governance project. Through trainings, workshops, conferences and development of resource materials, the project aims to educate media, youth, government officials and civil society to understand their rights and responsibilities as the populace of a new democracy, in order to strengthen the foundation of Bhutanese democracy.

Highlights

  • The BCMD is supported under UNDP's Good Governance project.
  • The project aims to educate media, youth, government officials and civil society to understand their rights and responsibilities as the populace of a new democracy.
  • BCMD supports the youth to recognize the differences between news and opinions and to prepare them in making informed decisions based on the information they receive.

Lack of knowledge and a proper understanding about the democratic processes could deter citizens from participating in Bhutan's democratic process. Therefore, the project introduces concepts like access and right to information and democratic governance, with the aim to promote a society where people understand their role as bureaucrats, politicians, media professionals and as citizens.The UNDP supported activities amongst others, aim to educate the youth, as the young voters of today, on the impact of media.

BCMD works with youth to enhance their critical thinking skills and teach them how to express themselves so they can raise issues that are of interest to them through media clubs, film making activities and discussion forums.

On International Democracy Day 2011, the Parliament of Bhutan in partnership with the BCMD organized a forum titled "Youth and Democracy", facilitated with support from UNDP. As Bhutan enters its fourth year of democratic institution, it was aimed to remind the young Bhutanese, on the importance of their roles, needs to get and create opportunities to participate in their society.

With social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter becoming more and more important in Bhutan, BCMD educates the youth on the opportunities and challenges of social media and, more broadly, the role the Internet and social media can play in creating an informed society. BCMD supports the youth to recognize the differences between news and opinions and to prepare them in making informed decisions based on the information they receive. Some of the workshops make use of a youth-to-youth learning model where participants return to their schools and institutions to share what they have learnt, so there is a multiplier effect from the activities.

At the end of the forum, all participants agreed that youth should be actively involved in supporting Bhutan's new democracy but that the Bhutanese youth should not wait for opportunities offered, but should also actively create forums for participation themselves.

BCMD is currently in the process of producing a children's' book on democratic concepts like the rule of law, rights and the role of democratic institutions and in launching an interactive web portal where youth and Bhutanese citizens can express their views and access relevant resources on media and democracy.