Meet Sonam Choden, an 11-year-old girl in Panbang, Bhutan. She is naturally curious and an avid reader, constantly looking for new books and stories to explore.
Raised by a single mother and the eldest of three siblings, her family cannot afford to buy new books. Instead, Sonam is limited to the books she has already read at the Panbang Primary school where she studies.
Sonam’s situation is like that of many other students who struggle to access quality books and diverse educational programs. In Bhutan, nearly two-thirds of the population lives in remote areas isolated by rugged terrain and few educational or economic opportunities.
This is why Sonam was extremely exited when a READ Center opened in her village. The READ Center showcases a library with over a thousand books in the local language and in English, an ICT section with computers and Internet connectivity, an audio-visual room, a women’s section, and a children’s section. The opportunity to read new books and other materials made Sonam overjoyed and excited to learn.
“I am also learning to use computers now and that makes me happy,” she said.
Through the Panbang READ Center, Sonam also participated in the Digital Storytelling Program where she learned photography, videography, media literacy, and how to use different tools and platforms to tell a story. Community elders who knew her beamed proudly, watching the little girl who never used a computer now able to type, browse the Internet and apply basic sound editing. From looking for the next story to read, Sonam can now create her own stories with digital media.
Sonam says she’s looking forward to sharing what she’s learned with other young children at the center. “I am confident to pass on the skills that I have acquired to my friends. I am excited to teach them the basics of digital storytelling.”
Today, many young children in rural Bhutan like Sonam can access basic ICT and digital literacy training through READ Centers. In Panbang and nine other villages in Bhutan, READ Centers offer basic digital literacy training, digital storytelling sessions, and other learning opportunities to expand the knowledge and skills of young girls, women and children, allowing them to pave their own paths toward more prosperous futures.