People with disabilities in the mainstream market

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Yangyel Lhaden

To equip people with disabilities (PwDs) with entrepreneurial and vocational skills, trainers were trained in entrepreneurship development and mainstreaming technical and vocational education and training (TVET) for people with disabilities.

The first Training of Trainers (ToT) on entrepreneurship development for organizations working for people with disabilities ended last week.

A total of 17 participants working with people with disabilities from Draktsho, Muenselling Institute, Bhutan Stroke Foundation, Special Education Needs School and Phensem participated.

The training was organized by the Entrepreneurship Promotion Division of the Ministry of Labor and Human Resources (MoLHR) in collaboration with the Draktsho Vocational Training Center for Special Children and Youth funded by Australian Volunteers, Australian Aid, Bhutan Foundation and MoLHR.

Ministry of Employment and Entrepreneurship Project Manager Jigme Thinley said that according to the 2017 Bhutan Population and Housing Census, 2% or 15,567 people of the country’s population were living with a disability.

Jigme Thinley said: “It is high time to take these initiatives to unlock the entrepreneurial potential of people with disabilities for meaningful employment. Such initiatives will bring the marginalized group into the mainstream labor market.

He said the mandate of the MoLHR was to make the labor market inclusive for people with disabilities in line with the philosophy of Gross National Happiness, the Constitution and the National Policy for Persons Living with Disabilities 2019.

The National Policy for Persons Living with Disabilities 2019, in Policy Intervention Section 9.1: Employment and 9.2 Support and Enabling Environment for Business Opportunities, mandates the MoLHR to promote inclusive employment.

During the entrepreneurship development training, participants were trained using the Competency Based Economy through Enterprise Creation (CEFE) methodology.

Jigme Thinley said CEFE has adopted a comprehensive set of training instruments and uses experiential learning methods to develop and improve business management and personal skills, primarily in the context of generating income and jobs and economic development. “They are also taught corporate risk management.”

He said that with this methodology, participants are actively engaged in simulation exercises, role-playing, field studies and experience sharing, rather than facilitators spoon-feeding participants. “There are fewer lectures and more experiential and action-oriented learning exercises.”

Draktsho East Karma director and teacher Garab Dorji and Thinley Wangmo developed a sewing business in Kanglung as part of the training.

Karma Garab Dorji said sewing skills were provided in Draktsho East for people with disabilities and he was looking forward to using his entrepreneurial skills learned during the training to explore the market potential of opening up a sewing workshop in Kanglung for his students.

Bhutan Stroke Foundation Executive Director Dawa Tshering said the training was very different and useful, and he looked forward to sharing his knowledge with people with disabilities. “I’m grateful to the animators for making a complex formation simple enough for us to understand.”

Draktsho will develop an inclusive entrepreneurship curriculum for organizations working for people with disabilities and integrate entrepreneurship topics into Draktsho’s curriculum.

The Director General of the Department of Employment and Human Resources, Kunzang Lhamu, said TVET reforms include the inclusion of TVET for people with disabilities. “We are in the initial phase of planning to make TVET inclusive.”

She said infrastructure in TVET centers and a program for people with disabilities in TVET centers will be developed to make TVET inclusive.

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