You may have switched on a local cable channel to see young students dancing away at school concerts to western, bollywood, regional and traditional songs.
However, while the shows are popular among both the youth and elderly there are ethical questions emerging on exposing youth to such a wide audience especially in the context of it being a school concert or cultural show for students and parents only.
There are questions as to whether children would be comfortable appearing on cable networks and if their individual permission is sought.
There are, however, many support such shows and even the recoding of their own students and children.
Two local channels Norling and Etho Metho regularly record the song and dance part of school concerts and broadcast them repeatedly. There are also similar cable shows in other towns across Bhutan.
Parent and Director of Bhutan Center for Media and Democracy (BCMD), Aum Siok Sian Pek Dorji said that at times very young children without realizing dance to certain songs and do certain moves which is not appropriate for their young age.
She said that song and dance concerts is beginning to become trend among schools showing the power of television and how young people easily copy what is on the idiot box and think that is how things are supposed to be.
Pek Dorji pointed out that schools need to become more creative and thought provoking than just miming songs and doing dances. She said schools should do things like more plays and drama and get them broadcasted instead.
Highlighting the positive side Principal of Loseling Lower Secondary School Sonam Phuntsho said, “We want students to be good in everything other than studies.”
He said keeping students engaged in extra co-curricular activities keeps students away from drugs and other bad practices.
He elaborated that the school concert is considered to be one of the important extra co-curricular activities in school. However, he explained that extra co-curricular activities include various games, literary activity, and singing and dancing which not only help students to bring intellectual development but also improve social, moral and aesthetic development.
“It not only preserve our tradition but also showcase the hidden talents of the students” he said. He said that more focus is given on traditional dances and it is compulsory for students to perform at least some good traditional dances.
He said that it builds confidence of students with involvement of mass participation getting to explore their talents. “We can’t shy away from ground realities” he added.
However, “Academic should be given a top priority,” he pointed out.
In terms of broadcast, he said that they don’t call anyone to broadcast their show but they get a calls and requests if they can shoot videos. “Bhutan is a small country, so they can get information from anywhere. It’s not necessary to inform”.” But sometimes students call media themselves,” he added.
He also said that they request the cable operators to show the drafts before broadcasting so that they can omit some undesirable items if there is any.
So, “Dressing is strictly looked into and a proper rehearsal is done and inappropriate item are not selected” he said.
However for some parents, it has become a concern. A 42 year old Aum Denkar says that her daughter is always onto Norling Channel waiting for her dance to appear on the channel. “I would appreciate her to dance on Dzongkha
songs instead of fancy Korean dances”. “Moreover, the shows are repeated time and again” she added.
Sonam from Babesa said “The cable channel can include programs other than repeated dance of schools.”
However, Nidup Gyeltshen, a government employee said, “I feel proud to see my children’s dance on television” adding that he never expected that his children would perform well in dance apart from doing well in studies.
Chimmi Yangchen, a recent graduate from Kelki said “I cherish seeing my dance on television and it reminds me how talented I am”.
Neten Lhamo, Vice Principal of Jigme Namgyal L.S.S, said “With development it sounds pretty good to explore the talents of students but there should be some limitations.”
Taking about the broadcast, she said “We call the cable operators or sometimes write to them, notifying the date, venue and dance items included in show”. “We have asked them to show the draft before showcasing, but they never showed us and instead publicized it directly” she said.
This year, the school decided not to conduct annual concert and focus more on reading in the national reading year. But students have requested for the conduct of the school concert as usual so this year, the school decided to conduct an annual cultural show.
However, according to Norling cable system, prior consent is always taken from schools regarding the show and it is always broadcast with thorough check and sometimes viewers themselves request for the broadcast of such videos.
Etho Metho manager Ugyen Penjor said, “Unlike Norling, request shows are not provided by Etho Metho cable due to a breakdown in the machine. But the service is always provided with a full consent from school authorities. The show records are first edited and sent to school authorities for verification.”