How Bhutanese schools are preparing the youth for Gyalsung National Service Program

In the wake of Bhutan’s monumental Gyalsung National Service program, schools across the nation are taking proactive measures to prepare their students for the transformative initiative.

The Gyalsung Act, a visionary brainchild of His Majesty The King, has stirred immense expectation among the Bhutanese youth.

As the inaugural batch gears up for their training, commencing on 1 September 2024, schools are playing a crucial role in equipping students with the necessary knowledge and skills to excel in this unique program.

Yangchenphu Higher Secondary School’s Vice Principal, Karma Choida, said, “At this time, we are educating all of our students and their guardians about the program. The majority of our students have already enrolled, and we are providing information about how to do so, and what to do in case you run into any problems.”

He continued, “We made sure to give our class 12 students basic training through scouting, but we were limited in what we could do about physically preparing them due to their timing.”

Other schools, like Motithang Higher Secondary School and Pelrithang Higher Secondary School, have undertaken similar comprehensive awareness efforts to educate students about the Gyalsung National Service program.

Vice principals Karma Choida and Tshering Zam of Motithang Higher Secondary School stated that they have identified students with substance use disorders as well, and encouraged them to get counselling and rehabilitation programs in order to give them the opportunity to enroll in the Gyalsung NS.

The vice principal hopes that the students will remain clean and have the opportunity to become Gyalsup.

Physical fitness is a key component of the Gyalsung National Service program. Schools have incorporated mass physical education classes, encouraging students to engage in regular exercise and outdoor activities.

Karma Choida said that the whole school scouting program could also help the students build on their confidence and character.

Moreover, mental preparedness sessions are being conducted to equip students with the resilience and determination required to successfully navigate the challenges of the training program. Karma Choida said that their school has a mediation room that is open for students to mediate and relax.

Schools are actively involving parents in the preparation process. Parent-teacher meetings are being utilized to address parental concerns and provide guidance on how families can support their children during their Gyalsung journey.

“Most of the parents are aware of the initiatives and happy to enroll their kids,” said Tshering Zam.

In agreement with Pelrithang Higher Secondary School Principal Chenga Dawa, parents expressed satisfaction with the program’s national service component.

About eighty percent of the awareness project, according to Karma Choida, is finished. However, he claimed that twenty percent is still open for improvement because most of the students’ parents are abroad and they are unaware of how their grandparents and guardians received the message.

The vice principals and principals of multiple schools discussed the students’ excitement about the initiative, and how they were providing guidance and raising concerns.

In class 11, they stated that although the majority of students were worried about turning 18, they could still register this year and submit an application for a delay. It implies that after class 12 is over, students who requested a postponement could join Gyalsung.

Tendrel Wangmo, a 17-year-old student at Motithang Higher Secondary School, said, “It is a unique opportunity to develop our potential and learn new skills. Gyalsung provides a vast array of training curriculum, ranging from specialty training in computing and entrepreneurship to basic military training. Students can explore their hobbies and find new abilities because of this.”

Jigme Meta Yoezer, a 16-year-old student at Motithang Higher Secondary School, describes himself as shy and reserved. He said, “Though I’m concerned about how I’ll make friends, I’m hoping the program will boost my self-esteem.”

Tshering Choki, 17, and Ugyen Dorji, 17, said that it’s an opportunity to help the country and change things. Since Gyalsung is a national service initiative, students are aware that their involvement is actually advancing Bhutan’s growth. For many students, this is a source of inspiration and pride.

All three schools’ principals and vice principals agreed that this will support children in developing confidence and character as well as assist them become well-behaved, responsible adults.

The students also mentioned that several of their friends who previously intended to travel abroad are now expressing an interest in staying put for a time, training, and working towards their objectives.

The parents are also altering their plans and ensuring sure their children receive training before being reunited with them, much like astute parents who have moved overseas

In essence, schools are not only imparting academic knowledge, but also nurturing a generation of responsible, skilled, and dedicated individuals prepared to contribute meaningfully to the Gyalsung National Service program, a a one-year integrated training program mandatory for all youths attaining the age of 18.

The first batch of Gyalsung is set to commence on 1 September 2024, with a four-and-a-half-month training course. Subsequently, the complete one-year training for the second batch will begin in March 2025 and conclude in January of the following year.

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