Over 53% of the total population of Bhutan is below the age of 18 years and 57% below the age of 25. Such a high young population places tremendous pressure on educational resources and at the same time exposes these adolescents to a host of emerging adolescent and reproductive health problems such as unemployment; increase in youth crime; abuse of drugs and banned substances; etc.
Starting in 2002, Save the Children has been working with the Department of Youth and Sports to help them design and implement programs that provide life skills education, career education and counseling, psychosocial counseling and training parents to become counselors for their adolescent children. All of these programs are innovations of Save the Children that the government has decided to take to scale.
School-Based Career Education and Counseling
Save the Children supports the Career Education and Counseling Division of the Ministry of Education to train teacher counselors in delivering the Peer Helpers training to ‘student’s peer helpers’.
The School-based Parents Education and Awareness (SPEA) Program
The School-based Parents Education and Awareness (SPEA) serves as a platform to facilitate communication between the teachers, parents/guardians and their adolescent children to share and discuss child-rearing experiences, learn about children’s issues/problems, and find out more about the special needs of today’s youth in Bhutan. The programme is currently being implemented in 153 lower, middle and higher secondary schools throughout the country.
Youth Center Program
In collaboration with the Department of Youth and Sports (DYS), we first established a Youth Centre in 1999 in Thimphu with the objective of providing a safe and youth-friendly environment so that the youths are attracted to use the services and also engage in productive activities. Following its overwhelming successes we established eight such centres in the past few years in seven districts.
The Youth Centres have facilities such as computers, internet, library books audio-visuals, games etc. Its services include youth forums, seminars, leadership programs, winter and summer programs. It also provides psychosocial and career counseling services and helps refer youth to experts in times of need.