Educating ourselves

In 2010, when the government announced that 1,000 acres of land had been allocated to build the Education City, I had worried that, “government policy is being formulated around a particular project.”

Formulating government policy to benefit one particular project is never a good idea. There’s simply too much room for conflict of interest, favoritism and corruption.

But the government is not satisfied. They want to bestow even more support to the Education City project. They now want to enact a law specifically designed to benefit this one particular project.

So today, the government introduced the Education City Bill in the National Assembly. They argued that without this legislation the legal framework would not be adequate, that foreign investors would not show up, that international education institutions would not be interested, and that the project would fail.

Without even considering the merits and demerits of the proposed Education City itself, I argued that framing laws around a project must mean that relevant laws are absent; that relevant policies are missing; or that the new law would circumvent existing laws and policies.

If relevant laws are absent, frame them, especially if other similar other projects would require them. If relevant policies are missing, develop them, especially if such projects are a priority for the government. But don’t pass new laws designed to bypass provisions of existing laws or the government’s own policies just for the sake of a single project.

That would not be good governance. And that is putting it very mildly.

The Education City may be a good idea. It may attract foreign investment, it may create jobs, it may become a centre of excellence, and it may strengthen our economy. Or it may be a bad idea. It may become a white elephant, or, worse still, a breeding ground for large scale, low quality education catering to tens of thousands of foreigners.

But good idea or bad, by enacting the Education City Bill, we would make it legal. And that’s a terrible idea.

 

Facebook Comments:

Comments

  1. The Opposition Party’s stand on this issue is right. The govt. praises its policies and so on. If the investors believe them, they should come and invest without govt. to enact a law on it. So, don’t allow the Bill to pass on it.

  2. unknown advicer says:

    A Unique place for Achievers to show and introduce to the World their talents and recognizing as Unique Famous personality. Nothing is new in this world, every Innovation has its own parental source. Normal Personalities became Famous personalities by introducing themselves to the World with their Achievements, but recognition takes long time (may be years) few people have Achieved their goals and remaining people are Dreaming to Achieve their Goals, ” Dream is not what you see in Sleep, Dream is the thing which does not let you sleep until you Achieve your goal “.
    Achievement is not related to few people and it is not like climbing hill with out a rope, it should be everyone’s target.

    To Achieve goals we required the process, action items, monitoring, a place for recognition and Implementing of Innovations and value creation.

    To accomplish / fulfill the mentioned steps for Achieving goals, We need to make process and result oriented Team, who will guide all, in the way to Achieve their goals and will show to the world about Bhutanese talents and skills at a glance.

    So many obstacles in Bhutan to provide complete education to all citizens,concentrate on implementing strong technical values and motivating education processes,rather than concentrating on foreign funds. if you shows good results on improving skills and technical values in every Bhutan citizen, that value creates more funds.

    Don’t count what you lost, Cherish what you have and plan what to gain, because past never returns but the future will definitely returns the lost.

    Pavan.D

  3. I like your quote “past never returns but future can make up for losses”. Good one.

    I also like your blog and keep doing it.

    Thanks. Karma Jimba

  4. Dear Lyonpo,

    From the point of view of the nation as a whole, I endorse the concerns you express, entirely.

    And — may I add — that it is precisely this “point of view” which the parliament is expected to take.

    It is my hope that parliament will engage in a serious, comprehensive, and open debate for the people of your country for all time to come.

    Mieko Nishimizu
    @ the British Virgin Islands

  5. I tend to agree with assertion that education city does not deserve separate act; in my view, it may be covered under FDI act, if there is such act at present.
    My analysis of education city is as follows:

    1. It is a noble concept but there are several practical difficulties before such concept is put into practice. In the first place, there is even doubt about the choice of place for education city. The current proposed site has no road access, nor there is water source near by.

    2. The other side of such grand vision is what will be effect of such international city on local social-economic fabric? Inviting foreigners to study in such city will have some effect on local population–it may be bad or good effect depending on level and intensity of interaction between city residents and local population.

    3. Will there be interested parties to build such city from bare ground? May be there will be but at what cost? There is no such thing as free lunch-so to speak. Investors may not be interested if they see no profit from their investment.

    4. How long can we sustain such city if it is built at huge cost? Will investors continue to run it or will they back out if they do not make money out of it.

    5. Similar education city concept has been put into practice elsewhere, for example, in some countries in the middle east; but the venture is failing as there are no takers at the end of the day.

    6. An argument that investor may not be interested into investing in education city without safe guard in the form of Act is controversial. It would mean that investors are do not trust our government assuring them their rightful place in such venture, even without act

    7. Last but not least, my request is careful and thorough analysis must be done taking into account all possible pros and cons before we go ahead with such grand plan and before we legislate to enforce it.

    Cheers

  6. Thinlay is right in pointing out that general acts should be understood as per the current FDI laws that are available in Bhutan.
    It is a BIG project that is fronted and backed by our PM, but to enact a Bill that is only for this project is silly and is only looking at it in the short term…this frankly is corruption and nepotism and cannot be tolerated in a democracy.
    Please do argue vehemently as you can, for if the opposition doesnt, who will? We, the people, dont seem to have a voice as yet.

  7. Jarodongchen says:

    Your Excellency,

    I totally agree with you. There is no need for a separate Act to cover this single project that may not see the light of day. On the other hand, given the world economic scenario, this is not the most opportune moment to push for this project. The financial crisis that the best of economies are faced with, it is unlikely that we will get people to be interested in our Education City project for the moment.

    Our education system is in a mess. I wonder how we are going to be able to sell Bhutan as a centre for excellence in education and learning?

  8. Just Asking says:

    Why was then never a Tala Project Act or Chukha Project Act?

    These projects sure benefited and even kept the country alive.

    There got to be something smelly with this Education City thing.

    But isn’t it sad that you (OL) will lose and DPT will again?

    Just asking

  9. KEEP UP THE GOOD JOB OL

  10. When I read in the newspapers prior to start of the national assembly session about the Education City Bill, I was thinking that in future we may require an Act for every project we implement. Even I don’t see the necessity for the BIMS Bill. In layman’s term, bills/Acts are required to regulate activities depending on its nature. But why for a project which is of course a massive one. I failed to comprehend the necessity of the Act for the Education City. Are we undermining our country in formulating the Education City Bill? DHI may come up with another Bill for the Torsa Project if no one comes forward. We are trying to rush up things and in the process there is every possibility of making blunders and repenting thereafter. Better think thrice if not more???

  11. I am curious who the local counterpart is for this education city? Who is going to benefit from this bill?

  12. Your Excellency,

    Firstly let me thank lyonpo for raising question on Government’s Rupee debt which was cause of concern for us. Response given by FM was irrelevant and unrealistic. he even talked about excess rupee flow after commisioning of Punatsangchu I and II. in reality this will never happen when we import almost everything from India.

    Coming to Education City Bill. i would rather say goverment is eager to pass many bills whether it is relevant or not, whether it is needed or not.
    EVERY ONE SAY BHUTAN IS UNIQUE COUNTRY. so our MPs want to prove that by passing the unecessary bills. on the other hand i doubt about FDI in Education city. WHO THE IDIOT WILL INVEST IN LOSING BUSINESS. Many foreign students may not ne interested in studying in bhutan given varieties of opportunities in other developed countries.

    Lets not b

  13. Your Excellency,

    Firstly let me thank lyonpo for raising question on Government’s Rupee debt which was cause of concern for us. Response given by FM was irrelevant and unrealistic. he even talked about excess rupee flow after commisioning of Punatsangchu I and II. in reality this will never happen when we import almost everything from India.

    Coming to Education City Bill. i would rather say goverment is eager to pass many bills whether it is relevant or not, whether it is needed or not.
    EVERY ONE SAY BHUTAN IS UNIQUE COUNTRY. so our MPs want to prove that by passing the unecessary bills. on the other hand i doubt about FDI in Education city. WHO THE IDIOT WILL INVEST IN LOSING BUSINESS. Many foreign students may not ne interested in studying in bhutan given varieties of opportunities in other developed countries.

    Lets be practical while passing the bills and dont forget the oaths you haven taken before starting the session.

  14. I have not followed any of the winter national assembly sessions, I wonder what remedy the OL himself has to alleviate the rupee crunch which we are facing and which the government is not being able to solve. I hope the people in the know can throw some light on this issue.

  15. 1. Multiply number of Indian vehicles on the road with their respective cost and fuel.

    2. Multiply number of building under construction with their respective material and labor cost.

    3. Multiply number of patients referred to Indian Hospital with their cost

    4. Multiply number of Bhutanese pilgrimage traveling to Bodhgaya with their expenses

    5.Count number of officials making trips to India and calculate their DSA/TA etc.

    6. Calculate cost of daily import of consumable from India etc. etc. etc.

    If we do these simple calculations we will find out where our rupee reserve is going. Now the hardest part is where lies the solution. It calls for radical shift and adjustment in our way of living–otherwise, we will remain burdened with debt forever. Sad isn’t it???

  16. While cutting down on imports from India is the only way out of this rupee shortage, doing so will bring about a host of new problems, like more unemployment, less infrastructure development. In other words we are caught between a rock and a hard place.

    The only solution would be to go to New Delhi with a begging bowl and request the people in power their to allow us to borrow Rupees minus the high interest rates we are currently paying. As a good neighbour who have always aided us, I am sure it will hardly hurt the large Indian economy if they gave us this tiny concession. Though, in all probability, this avenue to may have been tried and is already closed.

    Apart from that, I see absolutely no end in sight to this rupee crunch which we face everyday.

  17. I agree with those against the ambitious education city. Was the same consulting firm McKinsy or whatever involved in providing feasibility study again? Or who did the initial survey and where is the report? Why not invite Yale, Princeton, Harvard, Oxford and other prestigious edu city stakeholders and check whether or not they would be interested in our country and the project first instead of debating amongst MPs who try only to out do each other?

  18. tormai-nyaro says:

    Why didn’t the Mckinsey that DPT gov hired for some Rs. 540 million give any solutions on this rupee crunch in Bhutan?
    Education city project is a failure from the start, and is doomed to fail

  19. tormai-nyaro,

    Because there are no easy solutions, why don’t you give us your views on how you would reduce the rupee crunch, for that matter, why doesn’t the OL give us his take as to how he would go about addressing this issue instead of just complaining, as far as I see, the OL himself has not offered any concrete solutions to this problem.

  20. Please do not make Act(s) specific to a project. Yes, it will be good to have Education Act, but NOT Education City Act. Likewise, it will be good to have an Act called the Health/Medical Act, but not an Act for an Institute, I mean BIMS.

  21. I thought we were discussing the edu city here and now I find we have landed with the rupee crunch! This crunch is but natural given our natural everything. It’ll be near impossible to find a solution to this crunch whether Mckinsey is hired or not. Coming back to edu city, I honestly feel we should put it on hold. we haven’t got our act together yet for many things before we venture into such a project. To name a few; our towns are full of dirt and filth, rural urban migration is growing steadily without a road map to curb it, youth unemployment and crime rate are soaring sky high, the parliament is always busy passing bill/acts without a well thought out implementing mechanism in place, mining licenses are being issued and we want to champion environment issues at levels beyond our capacity or capability, many lhakhangs across the country are in dire need of renovation/maintenance, traffic is increasing at unbelievable rate and the roads remain in need of repairs, import of vehicles is threatening to equal the human population, I’m sorry, I can’t go on! Do we still need the edu city? For whom and why?

Leave a Reply