Last week the Parliament learnt that around 9,000 students who have passed from class 12 are unable to find colleges or higher education.
The reason is due to the COVID-19 pandemic and given that the majority of these students would have normally gone to India and other COVID hit countries for studies.
Then we have also learnt that despite lessons from the previous year this year too we are facing problems with vegetables rotting due to the inability to link producer to market and also export related trade issues with India.
Bhutan has done wonderfully well in managing COVID-19 and its impacts so far, but both the above issues present us with additional challenges as we go ahead and the need to plan and prepare for them.
The issue of what to do with 9,000 students who cannot attend college due to the pandemic is an urgent and important one. However, this at the same times shows that the RUB, MoE and other related agencies should have anticipated this and planned for it, which it seems was not done adequately.
Many students have decided to take a gap year but then the big question is what happens if the situation remains the same after a year.
One solution is for all the relevant sectors to work with foreign Universities to see if they can virtually accommodate Bhutanese students first and then later on campus (after a full dose of vaccination.)
The other solution is for all the tertiary institutes and other sectors to work on a war footing to explore the possibilities of providing online classes or classes in batches so that colleges can accommodate more students.
However, whatever needs to done needs to be done soon as the future education of our youth is at stake.
On the rotting vegetables, it is unfortunate that something as simple as trade documentation with India hindered our vegetable exports. The question really needs to be asked what our officials were doing over the last one year as a similar issue had cropped up last year.
It is an irony that on one hand vegetables are rotting in the fields and on the other hand urban areas are paying a high price for it.
The issue at hand may also be encouraging growing of vegetables without sufficiently looking at the market and export market.
It is clear that our agencies have to plan better to foresee these issues so that they are tackled before they become a problem.
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”