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Bhutan’s journey with ICT and STEM

Updated: Dec 3, 2022

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) STEM in Bhutan

Bhutan has embraced technology since 1999 when electronics like television and computers were first introduced in the country. However, the country is yet to reach or come to par with global standards due to the challenges caused by rapid technological advancements in developed countries.

His Majesty the 5th King, Druk Gyalpo Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck noticed this gap and made immediate calls for changes in the country. He issued a royal decree called a ‘Kasho’ to the public on the 17th of December (National Day of Bhutan), 2020 which highlighted reforms in civil service and Education in Bhutan. In terms of education reform, His Majesty expressed his concerns about the outdated nature of the current educational system in light of the sophisticated digital future. He also shared his visionary plans for a society that is technologically advanced through updated curricula, learning procedures, and evaluation systems of Bhutanese schools and institutions.

The fifth King of Bhutan delivered his speech on the 113th National day of Bhutan on 17th December 2020.

You can check out the full speech here. Picture source: Facebook: King Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck

The rigorous expedition for prioritizing ICT and incorporating STEM subjects was then outlined in the Bhutanese education system. One such example is the introduction of Coding as a compulsory subject in schools for classes PP the to XII as a part of ICT Curriculum during the academic year of 2021. In the second half of the same year, ‘CodeMonkey’ was also chosen as a platform for students in classes VII and VIII to access coding lessons through online games.

Code Monkey Logo

A dubbed hackathon competition was also conducted in Samtse Higher Secondary School as a means to encourage young students to learn about coding through a computer language called Python.

Students in Samtse Higher Secondary School for the dubbed hackathon. Picture source:

Another example of determining the importance of STEM in Bhutan is the recent inauguration of FabLab Bhutan which was conducted in the presence of His Royal Highness Prince Jigme Namgyal Wangchuck. FabLab serves as a workspace for a community of researchers, artists, and other creatives to collaborate, share ideas, and employ technology and invention to address issues on a local, regional, or global scale. It is situated in Thimphu's TechPark. The facility is furnished with highly advanced digital fabrication tools, including 3D scanners and printers, logic analyzers, sophisticated computer numerical control, and others.

Inauguration of FabLab with His Royal Highness Prince Jigme Namgyal Wangchuck

Prince Jigme Namgyal Wangchuck in FabLab.

Apart from education, there has been also been a rise in digital and electronic services from the government and business entities in Bhutan. For an instance, the Thimphu City Bus Service which used to run with a paper ticket system now utilizes GPS and smart cards to operate. Moreover, they also recently launched Gakyid app as a platform to share information regarding routes, stops, and bus timings for the general public.

Different types of Smart Cards are used by different groups of the public.

Furthermore, the ministries and offices in Bhutan now encourage the use of websites and online portals for people to access information and create certain online applications.

Thanks to ongoing technological progress and efforts made by the educational system and other stakeholders, we may now anticipate a highly digitalized era in Bhutan's near future. Although there is still a long way to go until the general populace is properly digitally literate, lifestyle changes of people in the future can be anticipated.


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