Pemagatshel’s first Rural Education and Development (READ) centre opened on March 26.
The centre is located at Khothakpa village near the gypsum mines about 15 kilometres away from present Pemagatshel town. The construction of a new structure was funded by DSCL as a part of the company’s corporate social responsibility.
“We are glad that the centre could be opened today despite some more works still remaining to be done,” said Zangla Drukpa, the mines manager. He said that, the company initially laid aside about Nu one million for the construction of the single storey structure but he estimates that the cost could rise up to about Nu 1.5 million with breast walls and other site development works needed to be done.
Pemagatshel’s first READ centre is a result of close collaboration of all the stake holders. Druk Satair funded the construction of the centre and provided furniture. READ provided libraries, computers and other resource materials. READ will also fund the setting up of income generating enterprise and the beneficiaries made available a 20 decimal plot of land that will enable the community to have a sense of ownership.
Shumar Gup Lepo thanked the mining company for funding the construction and READ Bhutan for supplying the centre with library, computers and other support and also for making this day a reality. He assured that, the community will make a good use of the resource centre in empowering and uplifting the conditions of the people of the three villages.
According to Rinchhen Choden, a field officer of the READ, the centre is expected to help communities in various other ways. She said that, it can be a source of information and resource centre where community can come and avail services for free that will empower them.
“Besides library, computers and other resources, we have also provided basic training to some people from the community who will run the centre. We expect this centre will play a vital role in uplifting the conditions of the backward community by empowering them through information and education,” she said.
Ganesh Chhettri another filed officer said that; READ will also fund a sustaining economic enterprise which will generate income to pay the operational cost of the centre. “The communities have already proposed some economic enterprises which are being studied for viability by a consultancy firm.”
The officials said that, the community can take up more than one sustainable venture if the set up cost is below Nu 1.2 million to be funded by READ.
Namgay Wangdi from Yalang village is one of the committee member set up to manage the centre. He said that the communities now have a proper place where discussions and trainings related to community development and empowerment can take place.
The chairman of the centre, the village Tshokpa Bopo said that now with the centre inaugurated, the committee in place will work out ways to make it a vibrant centre for the people to visit and avail services. “The centre will not just benefit the three villages, school children can avail library facility available at the centre and learn to use computers. The centre is expected to especially empower women who play a vital role in the society.”
Officials from READ said that, the centre is expected to become self sustaining in three to five years. Within this period READ will continue to provide support in different ways. The centre will also receive second installment of libraries in a year’s time. The kind of supply to be made will depend on need base submitted by the community. READ will also be providing trainings to local people from now on.
READ Bhutan centre in Pemagatshel is sixth of its kind in the country and only the second one in eastern Bhutan. The first one was established in Rongthong under Trashigang in April 2012. The centre is said to be doing well now.
Officials said that READ Bhutan is an affiliate of READ Global, a US based non-profit organization. In Bhutan it is working is close collaboration with the gross national happiness commission secretariat.
The simple opening ceremony was graced by Pemagatshel Dzongrab Karma Wangdi and attended by the people of the three villages of Khothakpa, Yalang and Denchi, officials from READ and corporate officials from Druk Satair. Children from the nearby Khothakpa Comminuty Primary School also attended the opening ceremony.