After a long time, last Sunday I happened to witness an inter-school quiz competition at the Thimphu YDF Hall. The contest was organised by the Ministry of Information to mark the World Telecom & Information Society Day 2009.
The children were magnificent. They knew things I didn't even hear about. Except that much of the information they knew came from TV and the Internet. Good? Bad? I don't know. Depends on how you look at it!
What was definitely not okay was our children lacking knowledge on our own culture, people, history and places. For example, no one could get the picture of the last day of Paro Tshechu, while they instantly recognised the komodo dragon. Likewise they could easily identify the official anthem of Arsenal FC, hit the tune of a certain singer called Lady Gaga and even spread out the career of the first American Idol.
Of course, I was also pleasantly surprised that they got most of the questions on ICT and computers right. Which makes me conclude that our children watch a lot of TV and are IT-savvy.
Then if that's the case, why don't we capitalise on these attributes? Use the TV to educate or re-educate our children and guide them and channel their viewing time to something meaningful. Highlight youth issues, dignity of labour, values, self-esteem and other soft skills that will prepare them to face the future and take the country firmly into their hands.
Why don't we work seriously on creating an "information society" or the "knowledge-based industry" on the strength of our children's flair for new technologies? If the performance at the quiz competition is any indication, then what I am proposing is definitely not a wishful thinking.