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Empowering Citizens for the Digital Age-Digital Literacy

โ€ฆ ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’ˆ๐’๐’—๐’†๐’“๐’๐’Ž๐’†๐’๐’•’๐’” ๐’‘๐’†๐’“๐’”๐’Š๐’”๐’•๐’†๐’๐’• ๐’Š๐’๐’—๐’†๐’”๐’•๐’Ž๐’†๐’๐’• ๐’Š๐’ ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’…๐’Š๐’ˆ๐’Š๐’•๐’‚๐’ ๐’๐’Š๐’•๐’†๐’“๐’‚๐’„๐’š ๐’‘๐’“๐’๐’ˆ๐’“๐’‚๐’Ž ๐’–๐’๐’…๐’†๐’“๐’”๐’„๐’๐’“๐’†๐’” ๐’Š๐’•๐’” ๐’„๐’๐’Ž๐’Ž๐’Š๐’•๐’Ž๐’†๐’๐’• ๐’•๐’ ๐’†๐’๐’‰๐’‚๐’๐’„๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐‘ฉ๐’‰๐’–๐’•๐’‚๐’’๐’” ๐’„๐’๐’Ž๐’‘๐’†๐’•๐’Š๐’•๐’Š๐’—๐’†๐’๐’†๐’”๐’” ๐’Š๐’ ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’ˆ๐’๐’๐’ƒ๐’‚๐’ ๐’†๐’„๐’๐’๐’๐’Ž๐’š ๐’‚๐’๐’… ๐’‰๐’‚๐’“๐’๐’†๐’”๐’”๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’—๐’‚๐’”๐’• ๐’‘๐’๐’•๐’†๐’๐’•๐’Š๐’‚๐’ ๐’๐’‡ ๐’•๐’†๐’„๐’‰๐’๐’๐’๐’๐’ˆ๐’š ๐’‡๐’๐’“ ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’๐’‚๐’•๐’Š๐’๐’’๐’” ๐’…๐’†๐’—๐’†๐’๐’๐’‘๐’Ž๐’†๐’๐’•.

Sonam Deki

Digital literacy entails more than just mere knowledge of technology; it encompasses the ability to navigate and communicate across diverse digital environments. With the widespread adoption of technology for improved efficiency, transparency, and economic progress, the inevitability of digital transformation has become increasingly evident. Therefore, digital literacy has emerged as a vital ingredient for the success of this transformation.

“The digital literacy rate of the citizens based on the digital literacy program initiated by the Government Technology (GovTech) agency stands at 49%”, said Tshokey Lhamo, the spokesperson of GovTech agency.

She added, “The consumption of digital technology by citizens has increased rapidly in the past years. The covid19 pandemic has further exacerbated the need for adoption of Information and Communication Technology (ICT). The role of ICT has become indispensable. It has become the sole medium for communications, learning and entertainment.”

The government and non-government institutions are continuing to provide public services online. Businesses and enterprises are utilizing e-commerce to continue serving customers. “The Royal Government of Bhutan (GoB) has made tremendous efforts and continues to focus on developing and improving ICT infrastructure and services. Any technology will be insufficient if people do not understand how to put it to effective use as part of their lives or their work, either because they are not trained to use it, or they are unable to imagine the benefits” Tshokey Lhamo said.

The GovTech agency has initiated a digital literacy program as one of the components under the Digital Drukyul program.

The program focused on developing the basic skills in the essential areas of computer fundamentals, G2C (Government to citizens) services, digital payments, working with google workspace, online security, ICT for business and secure social media usage.

A major component of Digital Literacy is providing hands-on training but it also includes two additional components – developing animated videos to teach individuals and building capability of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the use of ICT for their businesses.

The Digital content component entails developing content in form of videos, TVspot and animation for critical online services and broadcasting it in various media platforms aimed at both raising awareness and educating people on how to use the online services. Training of SMEs focuses on providing specific ICT for business training.

The program has been particularly beneficial for small business owners in Bhutan. “The digital literacy program has helped us to promote our business online and reach a wider audience. We are now able to sell our products to customers all over the country, which has had a positive impact on our business,” said Tashi Dorji, a small business owner in Thimphu.”

One of the business owners said, “Digital literacy is no longer a choice but a necessity for businesses to succeed in today’s fast-paced digital world. The government’s Digital Literacy Program has been a great initiative in equipping small business owners with the necessary skills to thrive in the digital age”.

Further, the department has collaborated with the Royal Education Council to integrate the digital literacy module as part of ICT curriculum in the schools.

The digital literacy program has also had a significant impact on the education sector in Bhutan. “We have integrated the digital literacy program into our curriculum, which has helped to improve the computer skills of our students. This will prepare them for the digital future and enable them to compete in the global economy,” said a school principal in Thimphu.

“The Digital Literacy program is one of the priority initiatives of the GovTech agency and will continue to remain in the 13th Five Year Plan (FYP),” the spokesperson said.

The announcement of the digital literacy program as a top priority initiative in the 13th FYP has been welcomed by citizens and businesses in Bhutan. “We are pleased to hear that the government will continue to invest in the digital literacy program. This will help us to stay competitive in the global economy and take advantage of the opportunities presented by technology,” said Karma Tshering, a resident of Paro.

As a crucial component of the nationwide digital literacy program, comprehensive training sessions were conducted for citizens from various segments of society, including civil servants, youth, monastic bodies, armed forces, and entrepreneurs. Over 10,000 individuals have been empowered with fundamental knowledge and skills in various aspects of digital literacy, as affirmed by a spokesperson.

The training modules have been carefully designed to cover essential areas such as computer fundamentals, government-to-citizen services, digital payment systems, Google workspace, online security measures, ICT for businesses, and secure social media usage. These modules are aimed at equipping participants with the necessary tools to navigate the digital landscape confidently and responsibly.

With this initiative, citizens across the country are better equipped to harness the power of technology for their personal and professional development, while simultaneously contributing to the growth and development of the nation’s digital ecosystem.

15 Digital contents were also developed in the form of videos, TVspot and animation for critical online services and cyber security and made available to the public through various media platforms to raise awareness and educate people on how to use the online services and safely navigate in the digital space. 100 SMEs were trained on ICT for business to build the capability of SMEs to adopt technologies for business efficiency and growth. Further, the sensitization program was also conducted in central schools across the country targeting the students of 10 and 12 standards.

Tshokey Lhamo said, “The report of the impact assessment of the digital literacy program conducted in 2022 indicates 96% of beneficiaries having positive impact derived from the program”.

The digital literacy program has emerged as a vital initiative for the GovTech agency in Bhutan. Its resounding success in enhancing digital literacy rates has had a transformative impact across several sectors in the country, particularly education and business.

The government’s unwavering commitment to this program is reflected in its inclusion in the 13th Five Year Plan, which is a testament to its recognition of the program’s immense potential to empower citizens with the knowledge and skills required to thrive in the digital economy.

As technology continues to reshape every aspect of lives, initiatives such as the digital literacy program are essential to bridge the digital divide and ensure that no one is left behind in the quest for progress and development. By empowering citizens with digital literacy skills, Bhutan is paving the way towards a more equitable, inclusive, and prosperous future.

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