Special skills training for monks and nuns

For more than a decade, the Labor ministry (MoLHR) has been providing Special Skills Development Programme (SSDP) for groups not integrated into the general education system.

Initially, the group included armed personnel, juvenile and disabled youth. But from the year 1999 till 2011, the ministry has also trained around 845 monks and 209 nuns in the traditional arts and crafts which were taught in religious institutions such as dratshangs, shedras, gomdeys and dubdeys in olden times.

It was believed that these skills came into existence from religious beliefs and cultural heritage.

“Seems like these skills are abating from monastic institution,” said the DHR Director, Sonam Rinchen. Therefore, to revive and preserve traditional arts and crafts and create a center for traditional knowledge and skills, the labor ministry initiated the programme.

“Initially the target groups were juvenile delinquents, the disabled and armed personnel only,” said the Director for Department of Human Resources, Sonam Rinchen.

The Programme co-ordinator, Wangchuk stated that instructors and payment for them were provided through Labor ministry.

DHR is trying to ensure that target groups such as villagers, the physically challenged, the monk body and school leavers gain access to various Vocational Education Training (VET) programmes.

This special skills development programme includes zorig chhusum, house wiring, light vehicle driving, plumbing, basic tailoring and basic carpentry.

According to the Project co-ordinator, the pilot project was conducted in Bumthang, Thimphu,Trongsa, Samtse and Zhemgang. “My sister learned tshemzo (tailoring) and tshemdrup (embroidery) while she was in the nunnery,” said Sonam Gyelmo adding that as she is no more a nun she is now running a tailoring shop in Thimphu withher husband.

A 26-year old monk from Punakha, Passang Dorji said that ten of them received light vehicle training in the year 2008.

The project co-ordinator stated that the programme is still on-going funded by the Government of India. “We might take the programme into the 11th Five Year Plan if budget is available,” he said.

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