Group-Picture-620x413The first ever ‘Capacity Building Workshop on Community Radio’ in Phuentsholing, Bhutan was held between November 17-26, 2015. Conducted by the UNESCO Chair on Community Media team from University of Hyderabad (UoH), the 10-day workshop was organised by the Ministry of Information and Communications (MoIC), Bhutan with support from the International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC), UNESCO and the India office of UNESCO, New Delhi. The College of Science and Technology (CST, Phuntshoeling) played host to the 10-day workshop.

Inaugurating the workshop, the chief guest, Dasho Pemba Wangchuk, Dzongda (provincial executive head), Chukha dzongkhag (province), said that the experience gained from the eight pilot community radio stations being initiated in Bhutan would contribute towards policy formulation for the community broadcasting sector in the country. He pointed out that there was minimal coverage of rural areas in the newspapers and the voices of the rural people rarely get represented in the media existing in Bhutan. Community Radio can be that bridge, leading to the development of the dzongkhags (provinces), he said. He cautioned against the misuse of community radio and emphasized that it must remain apolitical and serve social issues.

Speaking at the inaugural ceremony, the UNESCO Chair on Community Media, Prof. Vinod Pavarala said the participants would be the pioneers who will show the way towards building of a robust community sector in Bhutan. Prof. Pavarala expressed belief that community radio in Bhutan could not only promote knowledge sharing, but also, more importantly, address ‘voice poverty’. He referred to the 2015 Gross National Happiness Survey in Bhutan, which observed that geographically most of the unhappy are located in the rural areas, and said that community radio could be a means to ‘create just societies that enhance the well-being and happiness of all people.’

Representing the Ministry, the Coordinator of Training, Tshering Yangden, said that community radio in Bhutan will seek to reach the unreached and that it would focus attention on the needs of the rural areas.

Anchored by Vasuki Belavadi, faculty fellow, UNESCO Chair on Community Media (Department of Communication, University of Hyderabad), the workshop was attended by 22 participants from eight pilot community radio stations to be set up in Bhutan. Prof. Vinod Pavarala, UNESCO Chair, Dr. Kanchan K. Malik, faculty fellow with the Chair and Hemant Babu, Nomad India were the resource persons.

Participants at the 10-day workshop were introduced to the basic principles of CR, codes and ethics and management principles. They were also introduced to studio and field equipment in the production chain; and the transmitter and antenna in the transmission chain.

Conducted in a participatory mode, the workshop also saw the participants learning the ropes of planning a programme, interviewing and editing using Audacity. They were also introduced to other means of reaching out and involving the communities using internet and mobile technologies.