Bhutan: commission to promote Dzongkha

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Sat Jan 13 14:29:58 UTC 2007

Independent commission to promote Dzongkha

 National Assembly 11 January, 2007 - First it was a commission then it
became an authority and now, it is again changed back to a commission. The
National Assembly on January 4, decided to make the Dzongkha Development
Authority (DDA) into an independent commission, to be called as the
Dzongkha Development Commission. This comes almost three years after it
was changed from a commission to an authority by the government. His
Majesty the third King established the authority in 1971 as a separate
section under the education ministry to promote and develop the national
language. In 1989, the fourth King upgraded it into an independent

In 2003, when the government carried out the Good Governance review
exercise it was converted into an authority, under the education ministry.
This week peoples representatives pointed out that with the start of a
parliamentary democracy in 2008, the importance of the national language
would be neglected as government policies were bound to change with the
government. The issue was raised by the Wangduephodrang chimi who said
that the authoritys policies and activities would be affected if it
remained under the education ministry.

The BCCI chimi said the DDA has a council with 11 members from all the
branches of the government. It would not be appropriate to keep people
from the three branches under one ministry, he said referring to the
authority being under the education ministry. There are chances that the
new parliamentarians, who would be composed of graduates, would not
emphasise the promotion of Dzongkha, he said. Therefore to promote and
develop Dzongkha, an independent commission is indispensable. Royal
Advisory Councillor Dasho Sangay Wangdi who supported the submission said
that although the development of Dzongkha had come a long way, the effort
to promote it further could be different in the future. After 2008, when
ministers are appointed from an elected body, the emphasis could change,
he said.

His Majesty the fourth King made it a commission in 1989 keeping in mind
the importance of the national language, Councillor Dasho Sigay Dorji
said. If the DDA is to function under the education ministry, we do not
see the future of Dzongkha. The DDAs director general, Sangay Dorji, told
Kuensel that the concern of the peoples representatives was a sign of the
importance given to the promotion of the national language. However, the
director general pointed out that the draft Constitution had provisions to
preserve, promote and uphold the national language even after 2008. An
elected leader would be a Bhutanese and would understand the needs of the
country, besides it is his fundamental duty to preserve, protect and
promote the cultural heritage of Bhutan according to the Constitution.

However, the DDA becoming a commission had advantages in terms of its
plans and programmes outreach to the people, the director general said.
There are certain limitations when we are under a ministry because our
budget and human resource is tied with the ministry, Dasho Sangay Dorji
said. We would be framing our own policy and would have more authority and
independence. However, Dasho Sangay Dorji said that the mandate of
preserving, promoting and developing Dzongkha would be same. While we
would have to work closely with the education ministry in fulfilling our
mandate, our focus will not only be in the education sector, he said. We
can focus our programmes to the government, corporations, private sector,
and even individuals.

Dasho Sangay Dorji added that as a commission they would be able to carry
out extra responsibilities like promoting the quality of Dzongkha. He
added that while the focus would be to promote Dzongkha, the commission
would also respect the importance of the English language. The Dzongkha
language should not pose problems to people seeking higher education
abroad, he said. Meanwhile, the DDA had developed a new Dzongkha
curriculum for Class IX to XII, which would be introduced from the coming
academic session. A Dzongkha curriculum for Classes V to VIII would be
introduced in 2008. Within three years from now we will change the
Dzongkha curricula from pre primary (PP) to Class XII, he said.

By Ugyen Penjore ugyenpen at


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