Bhutan could have more education city centers in different dzongkhags if the education city project in Thimphu takes off.
This could come as an incredible statement as the first education city project is still in its infancy. But DHI believes that if the concept takes off then it will be able to replicate this model in eastern and southern centers.
The CEO of DHI-INFRA, Kinga Tshering elaborated on what the had indicated during a press meet this fortnight. The education city project, though challenging has huge potential in the future.
Kinga Tshering said places like Bumthang, Tsirang and Trashigang could have potential for similar projects if land can be identified.
“It is very essential for us to execute at least this education city project and jumpstart it to validate this possibility,” said Kinga Tshering.
The empowered group (EG) comprising of the works and human settlements minister, the economic affairs secretary, the cabinet secretary, the education secretary, the secretary of the GNH Commission, Thimphu Mayor, and the CEO of the DHI-INFRA has approved in-principle the report on bid submitted by Infinity Infotech Parks ltd and ILFS (Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services limited).
On the technical front, the consortium bidders had met the requirements of having a minimum net worth of Nu 1bn. The actual consortium net worth was Nu 22bn and had experiences in the field of developing townships and education city experiences with revenues over Nu 200mn per annum.
On the financial qualification, the consortium offered a 2.1% revenue share to the government, an annual lease rent of Nu 10mn and a project development fee of Nu 30mn in addition to making an investment of Nu 1bn in Phase 1.
The DHI is hopeful that the cabinet ratification will come by next month.
And if the bid is awarded, the bidder will have to submit a performance security of Nu 100mn during the first phase of the project, and a detailed project report within nine months and reach the financial closure of the project within 12 months of the date of signing of the agreement
The project advisory group comprising of international experts in education, business and governance, which was formed to guide the education city project is also of the opinion that the whole process had been comprehensive and gave a green signal to go ahead without any delay.
The project is said to require tie-ups with about 10 or more institutions and about more than 10,000 international students are foreseen in the next 15 years.
The project has already started attracting renowned institutions, said Kinga Tshering. “We are doing very well in terms of collaboration with Columbia University and IIM-Ahmedabad and we have signed an MoU with Earth Institute of Columbia University to launch the Masters in Development practices with Royal University of Bhutan by July 2013.”
The CEO further said that they will be working with IIM-Ahmedabad to establish an executive program in Bhutan and they were taking it up with India’s HRD ministry. He added that they also received a few interest to set up international schools from the region and India.
RUB vice chancellor, Dasho Pema Thinley, said that while there were concerns whether Bhutan would attract clients of international repute, it had to start somewhere and that Bhutan should take this opportunity to build the education city.