While most of the parents and students in the ‘earn and learn’ will be filing a case against the agent, Bhutan Employment Overseas (BEO) by April on the ground of breach of contract and youth exploitation, many also blamed the Labour Ministry and the government for being protective of the agent and bureaucrats involved and not providing an adequate solution.
The Labour minister, Lyonpo Ugyen Dorji responding to such issues during the Friday press meet said that while he believes that there were some procedural lapses on part of the agent and the Labour ministry, it doesn’t make sense to say that all the seven hundred plus youths are all innocent. “It is always being portrayed as if the youths don’t have any fault at all” he said adding that it sends a wrong message to the younger generation.
“I gave a thought to it for around three months and I am still not convinced that when there are three parties involved, only one is true and the other two are at fault” he said adding that such an acknowledgement is yet to be heard.
“At the end of the day, we care for our future youth and by refusing to accept that the short comings are in the students and parents too, I think we are sending the wrong message to our future generations” he said.
“Despite all the allegations and complications, my main concern is that youth already expect to to be given work and such mentality is only going to grow and hinder the growth of our country,” said Lyonpo.
He questioned if it is the fault of the government if the students are not attending the classes on time, if the earnings couldn’t be managed well to sustain a month and if the work culture is not respected. “I believe the consequences are partly because of those behavioral practice by the students as what we’ve heard and as what the attendance record of the language schools portray,” said the minister.
Coming to the issue of the students being misled on working hours, he said that hundreds and thousands come from different countries but work beyond the allowed hours to sustain and, he said that is actual norm though it is not according to the law.
“Keeping that in mind we offered our solution of loan deferment which is exactly taking to account to that problem and designed especially to address that problem,” said Lyonpo.
He said to know between who is right and wrong, taking the matter to court is the best option. “Taking the matter court should have happened a long time ago and I’m wondering why it hasn’t been done till now,” asked the minister.
Government’s response to survey report
The Parents’ representatives who recently returned from Japan came up with the survey report whereby 95 percent of the 400 students (whose forms came in so far) said they are not happy with the program.
On that, the labour minister said, “When it comes to happy and not happy, one really needs to think because it is not the question about happy and not happy and are we really looking at happiness?”
“Another thing is if findings are concrete we can rectify and plan solution accordingly” he said.
Lyonpo said the government is seriously asking for findings as soon as possible as the reaction will depend on findings but he said he is yet to get them.
Meanwhile the parents committee lawyer Ngawang Tobgay said he is confused by the fact that the government said a week ago that government will not take action on the findings of the parents committee and suggested to pursue the case legally own its own.
“So why is the question coming now that the parents’ committee is not cooperating with the Government by not sharing findings?” asked Ngawang.
Minister questions Power of attorney
While nearly 500 has signed the power of attorney to file the case against BEO, the labour minister said it needs to a lots of question to be asked. “One need to know why and what are the expectations of the students while signing the power of attorney”.
He said the parents and students on that front have never been expressive about the intent of signing the power of attorney. “But ultimately what they want is the loan waive, and we have been very clear that we will not be able to waive off the loan,” said the minister.
Lyonpo said that the government is trying its best but youths and parents on the other hand should also put an effort from their side.
The minister said “It’s not clear if all this will really benefit the youths or the ones coordinating this move. If this blame game continues and the little deeds are not appreciated, it going to hamper the growth of this small nation.”
Government denies protecting the accused
While many parents and youths alleged the government of being protective of the agent and senior officials involved, the labour minister in response said the government has no space to be protective of any parties on this issue.
“Whether we are being protective or not, we should let the process take its own course which we are exactly doing,” he said.
“The government isn’t favoring anyone but the parents and students expects government to fight on their behalf which we don’t have the right to do so”. He said the matters are being handled by the responsible agencies.