managed by G. Chophel (Communication)
Draktsho was established on 2nd October 2001, with the blessings of Her Majesty the Queen Mother, Ashi Tshering Pem Wangchuck, the President of the Youth Development Fund (YDF.
Draktsho (As high as the Mountains and as Deep as the Ocean), signifies the high aspiration and the deep commitment of Draktsho to provide the means for children and youth with disabilities to raise their self esteem and live with dignity. The centre strongly believes that everybody has the right to be independent and equal, has the power to choose, and to live in their life to its fullest potential. Disability is prevalent and affects all age groups. Although attitudes towards disabled people and other minority groups within our society are changing and becoming more positive, there still seems to be an immense lack of understanding about disability as “disadvantaged individuals” whose disabilities cause “suffering.” It is the environment that imposes constraints preventing people with disability from running their lives in a way equal to non-disabled people.
Draktsho is currently the only parent initiated vocational training program in Bhutan that specifically targets children and young people who have a disability. Draktsho is the first of its kind in the country; it’s a service-oriented and non-profit making centre which aspires to enhance the living standard of disabled youth through empowerment by training, and eventual integration with the mainstream population. Its main focus is to equip the trainees with vocational skills to enhance their opportunities for gainful employment. It also aims to build their self-esteem and self-reliance, thereby making them more independent, confident and contributing members of the society. This project encompasses opportunities that allow them to grow in their aptitude, determination, goals and dreams. One of the greatest challenges for the centre is to erase the deeply embedded stigma.
The Government is providing education to children with visual and hearing impairment, through special institutions and inclusive education projects in some schools. However, many persons with disabilities, especially those with intellectual impairment, are unable to avail these. The work undertaken by Draktsho in providing vocational training, special education and employment of persons with disability helps supplement the Government initiatives in a significant manner.
In 2007 a five-year Master Plan was developed to provide a ‘roadmap’ for strengthening and supporting the growth of the centre. The growth in employment opportunities in general in Bhutan provides the opportunity to increase the visibility and participation of young people who have a disability, and Draktsho can meet some of the challenges this poses. The Centre aims to enhance the positive acceptance within the wider community of children and young people who have a disability, to eradicate the stigma that continues to attach itself to the term ‘disability’.
After a period of over 14 years, Draktsho Vocational Training Centre for Special Children and Youth has come a long way to grow into an exemplary institution of its kind.
The management staff of the Draktsho currently promotes the recommendations recorded in the 2007 ‘Master Plan’. There has been a lot of activity at the Centre. There have been the beginnings of the development of written curricula for all of the programmes which will provide not only identifiable guidelines for the staff and students, but also a means of providing the basis for evaluation of the programmes and the progress of students.