Founder's PrologueHon. Lyonpo Sangay Ngedup was the Bhutanese Minister of Education on the occasion of our first meeting at Thimphu. An extremely energetic, efficient and dedicated civil servant, he has since served as Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Bhutan under a system of governance in which Ministers are periodically rotated. He held the portfolio of Agriculture Minister. Bhutan’s transition from a monarchy to a parliamentary democracy is proceeding step-by-step. The first General Election took place in 2008 with 47 constituencies electing members to the country’s National Assembly.
Hon. Lyonpo Sangay is devoted to promoting regional cooperation and gladly agreed to serve as the first chairperson of the SAF Bhutan chapter in October 2000. His government wished to develop IT skills at the grassroots level, in particular in community schools. So, at his request, the SAF agreed to train Bhutanese teachers in information and communication technologies. Accordingly, two computer experts were sent from India and a workshop was set up to train teachers from Bhutan’s two National Institutes of Education. Within a few months, the first 58 local teachers were trained in networking, software installation and management and monitoring of information on salaries and student credits.
Bhutan is the first country in which the SAF has initiated such teacher-training projects, established within the framework of a government information and communications technology programme.
It was in Bhutan, too, that the idea of organizing the SAF Scouts Friendship Camps was first conceived to promote interaction and friendship between youngsters from different South Asian countries. The first camp was a great success and took place in Bhutan in February 2002.
Five hundred and fifty girls and boys from all seven SAARC countries attended and took part in activities including singing, dancing and playing musical instruments. The SAF also arranged a free community email service enabling the children to remain in touch in the following year.
The children were also encouraged to write essays and stories about their experiences at the camp on their return. The SAF Scouts Friendship Camps have subsequently been organized annually and held in the Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka. Pakistan Bangladesh and India with the same fundamental aims of fostering mutual understanding, forging creative friendships, and promoting regional cooperation.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the South Asia Foundation (SAF), a secular, non-profit and non-political organization AND The Ugyen Wangchuck Institute for Conservation and Environment (UWICE), a Royal Government research was signed on 17 March 2010 for the establishment of the UNESCO Madanjeet Singh Center for South Asia Forestry Studies (UMCSAFS) at the Ugyen Wangchuck Institute for Conservation and Environment.