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Bhutan Commemorates 111 years of Nationhood

Bhutan will celebrate its 111th National Day on December 17, 2018 with pride and admiration, as it is a commemoration of the rich history and tradition of the Bhutanese. The day, he said also marked the unity of Bhutanese people and National Day proffered just the space for celebration for both the country and its people with their Kings.

The date marks the coronation of Ugyen Wangchuck as the first Druk Gyalpo of modern Bhutan in 1907. Celebrations are held at Changlimithang Stadium, and include a public address by the Druk Gyalpo and a procession including a statue of Ugyen Wangchuck to honor the first Druk Gyalpo and the independent Bhutanese nation.

Bhutan is one of the few countries which has been independent throughout majority of its history. It has never conquered, occupied, or governed by an outside power for most of its history, and has remained relatively isolated. Although there have been speculation that it was under the rule of the Kamarupa Kingdom or the Tibetan Empire in the 7th to 9th centuries, there is only substantial evidence. The country has continuously and successfully defended its sovereignty throughout history

History of the celebrations

Historians like Dr. Karma Phuntsho said December 17 was a major milestone in Bhutanese history, as it marked a new era, an era where the country’s many chieftains and feudal lords accepted Gongsar Ugyen Wangchuck as the most powerful of leaders in the country and approached him to be the first King. A post from bhutanexpdition.wordpress.com focused on the rich history of the celebrations.

In the 19th and 20th centuries, colonialism was very common – with European powers invading and capturing territory, especially in Asia. The biggest and most aggressive among them was the British – who after occupying the whole Indian Subcontinent in the late 19th century or 1860’s knocked on the doors of a divided Bhutan with several power centres and regional lords. Documents from the old public archives in the late 19th century show a proposed plan of invasion of Bhutan from several routes into western and central Bhutan. The British assumed that Bhutan, which was divided, would be cakewalk and they had a very poor opinion on Bhutanese military capability at the time.

All of that changed when the father of the First King, the Black Regent Jigme Namgyal- not only gave the British a bloody nose with some humiliating defeats at Deothang during the Duar Wars, but also united the country. Though the British won the Duar War after a massive effort lasting five months, Bhutan – in effect, had achieved some important aims.

British accounts, gave some glowing accounts of Bhutanese military capability after the Duar Wars. The British also realized that Bhutan was a united state under the Jigme Namgyal – and not some fractious group of principalities. The British, after having achieved its limited Duar aims of recovering territory captured by Bhutan from local Indian princely states, made no future attempt at any military actions against Bhutan.

The First King Gongsar Ugyen Wangchuck further consolidated on his father’s actions and cemented the unity of Bhutan. The First King, in a well thought out strategic move, turned the British from a regional rival and threat into an ally by positioning Bhutan as a strong, sovereign, and strategic buffer state in the great game between the British Empire and Russia over Central Asia. This move, secured Bhutan’s territory both from the South and the North.

With Bhutan’s sovereign status stronger than ever before – the First King followed by His Majesty the Second King Jigme Wangchuck could focus on consolidating the unity and stability of the country, setting up a strong government, starting developmental activities, and also sowing the seeds of a modern Bhutan.

His Majesty the Third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck is remembered as the Father of Modern Bhutan and starting the process of planned development. After the departure of the British from India the Third King signed a Friendship Treaty with India in 1949 that mentioned that both countries would not interfere in each other’s internal matters. The Third King’s visit to India in 1954 and Nehru’s reciprocal visit to Bhutan in 1958 laid the basis for planned development in Bhutan with assistance from India.

The 1959 invasion of Tibet by Chinese forces threw Bhutan a security challenge from the North. It was not clear where and when Chinese forces would stop, and some aggressive statements on Bhutan by a senior Chinese leader made the situation even more uncertain. Bhutan, at the time, led by the Third King reasserted Bhutan’s sovereign status. Given the close relationship established by the Third King with India, the Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru asserted in the Indian Parliament that if Bhutan was attacked – then India would take up its defense as a friend and ally of Bhutan.

To further strengthen Bhutan’s sovereign status it joined the United Nations in 1971.

Bhutan, under the magnificent reign of His Majesty the Fourth King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, saw unprecedented social, economic, and political growth and progress. All indicators like health, mortality, education, sanitation, income, infrastructure, economic development, etc., saw spectacular jumps and improvements. His Majesty the Fourth King also launched the establishment of democracy in Bhutan, which culminated in Bhutan’s first democratic Parliamentary election in March 2008.

Bhutan’s sovereign and independent status grew even stronger under the Fourth King. Just a year after his reign, Bhutan joined the Non-Aligned Movement in 1973. Bhutan also established diplomatic relations with some key countries who continue to be Bhutan’s major donors and Bhutan established embassies and missions in key countries across the world. During this time, several international offices and organizations opened in Bhutan, which helped garner the much needed aid to Bhutan.

Bhutan became a founding member of SAARC in 1985. His Majesty also effectively dealt with an internal security challenge in the 1990’s that had been simmering since the Second King’s time in southern Bhutan. However, the biggest security challenge in Bhutan, in its recent modern history, came from the well-armed militants from India camped in thick Bhutanese forests, and in the process were threatening our sovereignty. After repeated attempts at a peaceful resolution, His Majesty the Fourth King led the nation’s security forces from the front to successfully uproot the foreign militants in 2003.

Sources:
    Bhutanexpedition (2015 July 25). 108th National Day Celebrations. Retrieved from: https://bhutanexpedition.wordpress.com/2015/06/25/visit-bhutan-2/
    Kuensel (2017 December 18). National Day celebrated in Belgium. Retrieved from: http://www.kuenselonline.com/national-day/#.Uqpz_idgEXg

Branding of TVET Programs through Quality and Image Building Discussed at the In-Country Program and National Seminar in Songkhla, Thailand

The image of TVET may be understood as the sum of attitudes, associations and feelings about nonacademic vocational education and training which people in a cultural group implicitly or explicitly communicate among each other and which influence the willingness of individuals involved to invest in TVET. The current challenges in the employment and training sector shows that there is a need to enhance the good image of TVET programs, TVET Schools and Institutions and as whole to communicate the positive effect of TVET to the young people’s employment and the parent’s investment.

The participants of the program with Ms. Therese Lee (center) after the presentation of their marketing strategy plan. This is the major aim of this year’s In-Country Program and National Seminar in the Kingdom of Thailand, which was held from November 26-30, 2018 at the Songkhla Vocational College, Songkhla Province, Thailand. This was participated by 55 administrators, teachers and TVET personnel coming from 23 institutions from all over the country.

Overall supervision was facilitated by Dr. Ramhari Lamichhane, CPSC Director General and Dr. Suthep Chittayawong, the Secretary General of the Office of the Vocational Education Commission (OVEC). Ms. Therese Tan-Lee, CPSC’s Faculty Specialist, was the overall program coordinator and resource person and she was assisted by the local counterpart in Thailand, Dr. Pongchit Chitapong, the Director of External and Outreach Section of OVEC, as his capacity as the local coordinator. During the opening ceremony, some notable guests attended including the Deputy Secretary General of Vocational Education Commission, Dr. Prachakhom Chantharachit and the Deputy Governor of Songkhla Province, Mr. Satchapak Kan.

The program coordinator, Ms. Therese Lee, receiving a token of appreciation from Dr. Prachakhom Chantharachit, OVEC Deputy Secretary General. The program was organized to provide the participants the platforms to recognize the vital role of TVET programs and TVET institutions in the socio-economic development of the country. The lectures were also designed to enable them to respond successfully to the needs of the community in particular with skills development, technology transfer, value chain, life skills, etc. with the overall aim to enhance the TVET image as a whole. They were also able to recognize the importance of Communication for Development (C4D) strategy in reforming the TVET programs image to the stakeholders, community, and all sectors of economy.

During the 5-day program and workshop, the participants were able to verbalize and analyze the problems regarding the poor image and unattractiveness of TVET as a whole and provide possible way forward. In addition, they prepared a marketing plan for enhancing image of TVET programs based on the output of Workshop 1 and integrate the 7Ps of Marketing, as well as the BCM (Brand Concept Management) Plan and the C4D Strategy Plan for Image Building.

National Seminar Aims to Provide Platforms to Communicate TVET’s benefits to the Stakeholders

To further solicit inputs and ideas from the stakeholders, a national seminar entitled the “Image of TVET in the Perspective of Stakeholders” targets to recognize the expectations of the potential students of TVET Institute prior attending the program and respond from the industries’ needs and requirements in the capacity development and training of the skilled workforce. The outputs generated by the seminar will be used as inputs in developing marketing, image building, branding and C4D strategy plan of the TVET Institutes in Thailand. They are expected to come up with a relevant communication for development strategy plan to ensure the longer term effect in building positive image of TVET Institutes. Overall, a total of 120 participants attended the national seminar.

Representatives from the industries namely Mr. Rungroj Tuntivechapikul, the Vice President of Corporate HR at Betagro Group and Mr. Athivith Toemlap, Head of the Sustainable Educational Development at Minor International Business Group, were tapped as local resource persons for this seminar and shared the industry’s perspective on TVET image building.

In addition to the classroom lectures, study visits to several local companies like the Chevron Thailand Exploration and Production, Ltd and Chotiwat Manufacturing Co., Ltd., both located in nearby city of Hat Yai, was visited by the participants in the hopes of understanding the industry’s perspective on image building.

Participants of the In-Country program during the group tasks
Study visits to Chevron Thailand Exploration and Production, Ltd.

Sixteen Accreditors Attend First Refresher Training on APACC Instrument and Procedures

Dr. Ramhari Lamichhane, CPSC Director General and APACC President (seated, center) acted as Supervisor and Resource Person; Ms. Therese Lee, CPSC Faculty Specialist (seated, 2nd from right) was the Program Coordinator and Resource Person along with Dr. Romulita Alto, CPSC Project-Based Faculty Consultant and Research Consultant of the Technological Institute of the Philippines (seated, 2nd from left). High level participants include the Former Director General of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) Philippines, Ms. Irene Isaac (seated, 3rd from right).

The Asia Pacific Accreditation and Certification Commission (APACC) recently revised its accreditation instrument for the purpose of eliminating ambiguity and incorporating the process of PDCA (Plan Do Check Act) in all seven criteria. APACC keeps on looking for ways to improve its processes, thus, review and revision of these processes were likewise completed.

Presentation of the APACC President Dr. Ramhari Lamichhane

Due to the above, APACC invited Accreditors and notable personalities from India, Malaysia, Philippines, and Thailand to attend the first International Accreditors’ Refresher Training held on December 4 – 5, 2018 at the Colombo Plan Staff College (CPSC), Pasig City, Metro Manila, Philippines. Sixteen participants composed of TVET Ministries’ and Educational Institutions’ Heads and Officials, and other professionals attended the training.

The main objectives of the training were to impart the roles, responsibilities, and attributes expected of APACC Accreditors and ensure the same level of understanding among Accreditors on the APACC criteria, indicators, and sub-indicators.

The APACC President, Dr. Ramhari Lamichhane, supervised the training and discussed the rationale and overview of updates on APACC instrument and procedures, the desirable characteristics of APACC Accreditors, as well as the rules in the conduct of on-site visits.

The two-day training tackled the updates in the seven APACC criteria namely: (1) Governance and Management; (2) Teaching and Learning; (3) Human Resources; (4) Research and Development; (5) Image and Sustainability; (6) Other Resources and (7) Support to Students. CPSC Faculty Specialist and Program Coordinator, Ms. Therese Lee, together with Dr. Romulita Alto, CPSC Project-Based Faculty Consultant and Research Consultant of the Technological Institute of the Philippines were able to present these updates to the participants, as well as some relevant information including the gathering of necessary evidences during the onsite visit.

Group Task on Formulating Questions

In order to practice their newly-acquired skills, the participants were tasked to formulate sample questions per sub-indicator which will guide them during on-site visit interviews. A mock audit was also facilitated to depict the actual set-up during institutional evaluation, keeping in view the do’s and don’ts in conducting on-site visits.

Mock Audit

The training was the first of several refresher trainings for APACC Accreditors. The next training is slated on the first quarter of 2019 in partnership with another CPSC member country.

CPSC Strengthens Ties with PAITE, Signs MoU for Future Collaboration

Dr. Lamichhane (left) with PAITE representatives during the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the two parties.

The CPSC Director General, Dr. Ramhari Lamichhane, was in Legazpi City, Province of Albay, Philippines to attend the 8th National Congress of the Philippine Association of Industrial and Technology Educators (PAITE), Inc. held from November 26 to 28, 2018.

In the event, he presented a paper on "Asia-Pacific Quality Assurance for Industrial and Technology Education" which promoted the services of the Asia-Pacific Accreditation and Certification Commission (APACC) as a viable third-party accreditor for TVET institutions in the region.

The highlight of his attendance was a signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the organizers. Valid for three years, the MoU strengthens the link between the two parties in exploring possibilities for linkages and other collaborative activities that will benefit both organizations and their stakeholders.

Organized annually, this year's National Congress aimed to: (1) strengthen industrial and technology education through industrial partnership and international collaboration; (2) strengthen awareness on the possible response efforts towards global standards; (3) streamline the concepts of internationalization in education in the curriculum; and (4) craft and propose possible topics to enrich the curriculum in line with internationalization.

Dr. Lamichhane with the rest of the congress speakers and PAITE representatives Dr. Lamichhane receiving a token of appreciation for his role as a speaker