Senior News Reporter
Humber and the Bhutanese government are partnering to improve media literacy in Bhutan.
“Media plays such an important role because it impacts the lives of people,” said Monira A.Y. Tswewang, chief information and media officer of Bhutan’s Information and Communication, and Media Development divisions.
“We want them to be more engaged in public discourse,” she said.
The Bhutanese government is looking at how they can partner Humber faculty to create workshops and training programs in Bhutan, said Michael Hatton, Humber’s vice president of academics.
“This is a new venture for us in terms of helping develop media literacy skills as well as broad media skills,” said Hatton.
“We may also be looking at the potential of having students from our film program work with budding filmmakers in Bhutan to do feature length films jointly.”
Humber had worked with Bhutan previously to create a management development program for the public sector and following its successes both sides welcomed the opportunity to continue their relationship, said Kent Schroeder, Humber’s international project director.
“We’ve shown them an overview of the types of training Humber is involved in and we’re meeting to see what we can do to build capacity for media literacy in Bhutan,” said Schroeder.
Bhutan, located between China and India, only recently became a democratic state. It held it’s first election in 2008, said Hatton.
The state was historically an absolute monarchy, but the king felt it was more important for many minds to come together to solve problems, he said.
“We’re trying to get people to think critically,” said Tswewang.
The hope is to create a civically engaged population that can think, analyze and make informed decisions, she said.
Traditionally state-owned, Bhutanese print and broadcast media have dramatically mushroomed in the last two years, said Tswewang.
There are now seven newspapers, six of which are privately owned while the other is 51 per cent state-owned.
There are also six radio stations, and a national broadcaster, she said.
“By and large media is organized as a very important medium for promoting democracy and engaging citizens actively,” said Phuntsho, chief of the public communication division at the Ministry of Communication.
The government and prime minister fully support media development, while social and online media have helped it become freer and less restrictive, said Tswewang.
Exchanges are expected to begin in 2011.