Preserving Heritage: Empowering Future Conservationists

In a landmark move aimed at safeguarding Bhutan’s rich cultural heritage, the Ministry of Home Affairs has embarked on a pioneering initiative under the 13th Five-Year Plan. This initiative seeks to outsource the conservation of heritage sites to the private sector, marking a significant shift towards sustainable preservation efforts.

Central to this initiative is the comprehensive training program launched by the ministry to equip Bhutanese undergraduates with the skills needed for careers in heritage conservation within the private sector. Recently, lecturers from the College of Science and Technology (CST), specializing in architecture and civil engineering, underwent rigorous training as part of this preparation initiative.

“The training is crucial as it prepares our faculties for a new conservation module that will soon be integrated into CST’s undergraduate curriculum,” highlighted officials from the Department of Culture and Dzongkha Development. This forthcoming module, slated to commence in July, aims to ensure that graduates are well-prepared to undertake the nuanced responsibilities of heritage conservation in Bhutan.

Yeshi Samdrup, Chief Architecture at the Ministry of Home Affairs, emphasized the strategic collaboration between the ministry and the Royal University of Bhutan (RUB), citing a memorandum of understanding aimed at fostering conservation efforts within educational institutions. “Our goal is not only to enhance technical skills but also to ensure that future graduates are equipped to contribute meaningfully to the preservation of our cultural heritage,” Samdrup affirmed.

For lecturers like Chimi from CST, the training marks a transformative shift towards a curriculum tailored to Bhutanese traditions and contexts. “Previously, our approach was more international in scope. Now, with this specialized training, we can offer students real-world, practical knowledge aligned closely with our cultural ethos,” Chimi explained.

The initiative underscores the ministry’s commitment to integrating Bhutanese values into educational frameworks and preparing the next generation of conservation professionals for careers in the private sector. Officials from the ministry stressed the importance of collaboration with institutions like CST in realizing the ambitious goals of the 13th Five-Year Plan.

As Bhutan continues to cherish and preserve its cultural heritage amid modernization, initiatives like these not only safeguard historical sites but also empower local communities to take ownership of their rich cultural legacy. With the integration of specialized conservation modules, Bhutanese undergraduates are poised to become stewards of their nation’s heritage, ensuring its protection and appreciation for generations to come.

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