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The coronavirus has had far-reaching effects beyond the spread of the illness itself to upsetting the social safety nets, and the economies of the world communities. It has revealed inequalities in societies including digital divide, racism and diplomatic frictions. What became apparent in the case of Bhutan is the digital divide between the rural and the urban communities, dependency and fragility of our economy and the lack of technological advancement in our education system, to name a few.
Globally, the virus has affected all races and classes indiscriminately. However, it isn’t all that dark. The COVID-19 pandemic presents a teachable moment! It is clear from the global crisis that we are all in this together. It has shown how even an action as simple as “staying home” and “verifying facts” as an individual have far-reaching effects in the community in curbing the spread of the virus and maintaining calm. It brings to light how coordinated actions from multiple stakeholders with one common goal can be achieved through effective leadership.
Citizenship education perhaps has never been felt so important than when the world is gripped in fear of the global pandemic. The current pandemic presents a real-time case study for the 2020 Youth Summit to discuss values of good citizens, leadership, the role of the youth in creating more inclusive and equitable democracy in the country. It is an opportune time for the young generation to reflect on current socio-economic realities, reprioritise and advocate for a better world by exploring solutions.
As the youths discover their innate talents and strengths at the Summit, they will learn to grow a sense of ownership and duty, which would in turn help in being responsible at home, in their communities and to engage productively under different conditions. Benefits of engaging youths in transformational programs like the Youth Summit expands beyond pandemics like COVID-19 as they learn to become more productive as citizens at an early age. This helps families, communities and states in building a stronger society that’s able to handle global inequities and challenges through a local lens and approach. It will help us create a stronger Bhutan.