Press Summary from the 10th Friday Meet on ‘Earn and Learn program, Clarification on Gaydrungs, Domestic helpers and Regional entry points for regional tourists’
‘Earn and Learn program’
Overseas employment program was initiated in the country under the Ministry of Labor and Human Resources with the aim of employment abroad. The ‘earn and learn program’ in Japan is a package under the overseas employment scheme. The program has faced some glitches and become a topic of discussion today. Several rounds of discussion, questions and answers sessions have been organized by national television – Bhutan Broadcasting Service (BBS) inviting all the stakeholders involved in the program, media has undertaken stories on the case and social media outcry has brazen.
The government has met all the stakeholders involved to comprehend the concerns and heed to the probable interventions and solutions for the program.
The Ministry of Labour and Human Resources has informed the general public that the youths in Japan are facing difficult times due to the occurrence of adversities in the package. Explicitly mentioning that they are facing difficulties in meeting ends needs, payment of tuition fees to language schools in Japan and repaying the loans in Bhutan. One of the reasons for such difficulties, we may deduce is our youths not being able to adjust to the Japanese culture, lifestyle and earning while studying.
After close examination of the problem, the government decided to defer the loan repayment between 2-4 years based on their study period in Japan as an immediate measure to ease pressure on our youths in Japan having to meet the tuition fees and basic amenities as well as repay the laon here. The government decided to defer the loan so that the students after completing their language course could pay their loans. The loan deferment is however optional and those who prefer to continue with the current loan payment shall continue to do so.
As desired by the parents and students, the termination of loan is not feasible. Furthermore, the government would not want to create such precedence given that loan repayment issue is not exclusive to students in Japan but are faced at different levels of society [educational loans, agricultural loans, business loans and others].
After the visit of the representative of the parents’ committee and legal advisor to Japan, they met and shared the concerns to the Prime Minister. They had also conducted a research which explicated that 95% of the total youths were not doing well and were unhappy. The team from the Ministry of Labor and Human Resources who conducted a similar survey found that over 70-80% of the youths are doing reasonably good. Such difference in the findings may bewilder the general public and us on where the problem really exists.
The government is open to sharing the survey questionnaire and reports to the public for comparison and comprehension.
So far, the Ministry and the Bhutan Employment Overseas Agent have been held solely responsible for the problem our youth in Japan are facing. Recently, during the panel discussion on BBS, a few parents shared that there could be some fault on the part of our youth undergoing the program and suggested to share certain percentage of loan repayment.
While we understand the problems our youths in Japan are facing, we also need to contemplate if our youths also are not at fault in some ways. We need to assess if our youths arrive for their classes on time or attending their classes, as attendance is also one of the factors for access to VISA. We need to consider if our students have reached work place on time and worked dedicatedly.
The Ministry of Labor and Human Resources awaits the report from the representative of the parent’s committee and legal advisor for further assessment and assistance.
The government has assured and it reassures that it will do whatever possible to help our youths in Japan.
‘Clarification on Gaydrungs’
On 16th January, the 1st session of the third Parliament, after in-depth discussions, decided to retain the post of gaydrungs (gewog clerks) and under favorable circumstances regularize their services [long-term contract].
Today there are 199 Gaydrungsof whom 74 were on contract recruited by the Royal Civil Service Commission. The contract term for the 74 Gaydrungsended on 6th March and the RCSC terminated their contract as mandated. The government abides by their decision.
However, the 74 gaydrungs continue to serve in the respective gewogs under the Ministry of Home and Cultural affairs. This comes in as the Ministry issued an office order on 5th March for extension of their contract term for 3 additional months.
As the nation increasingly proceeds into decentralization with gewog development grants and block grants for gewogs, strengthening the human resource in the gewogs is pivotal. Gaydrungshave been an important component in the gewogs day-to-day functioning and their roles become more diverse with the increasing decentralization processes.
The Ministry as directed by the Cabinet is reviewing and studying the modalities of recruitment, preparing their Terms of Reference (ToR) and streaming the discrepancies of the post of Gaydrungs. The government will formally renew their contract when the ToR is finalized. A detailed status will then also be reported to the upcoming session of the Parliament.
‘Domestic helpers and Regional entry points for regional tourists’
Domestic helpers and regional entry points are two different yet similar issues.
The government has pledged that they will consider the employment of domestic helpers; and the 1st session of the third Parliament decided to open regional entry points for regional tourists in the border towns for regional tourism balance, both after proper assessment.
The Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs is reviewing both the issues. The government has sought recommendations from the Opposition for aligning the issues while considering the security concerns.
While both the cases are important, for Bhutan and for any nation, national security is of utmost importance. The two cases merit extensive discussion and analysis as ensuring national security is a mandate for everyone.
The government is reviewing the matter and will decide on it only after extensive consultation and comprehensive assessment.