World Summit On The Information Society (WSIS) has declared Bhutan as one of the winners for providing a Data discount scheme for students during the COVID19 pandemic in line with the WSIS action line “ICT applications: benefits in all aspects of life”. The other four countries that were awarded a champion project for the same category include Hungary, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America.
The recognition is the outcome of the WSIS Forum 2021, wherein ITU held a series of workshops and interviews to highlight the efforts put in by countries to combat the adverse impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. During the event, the Ministry submitted several ICT initiatives undertaken by the country to combat the adverse impact of the pandemic, wherein “Data discount scheme for students during the COVID19 pandemic” was stated as one of the initiatives to facilitate continued education in the country.
In the WSIS Forum 2022, the ITU and the WSIS Secretariat reviewed the various projects implemented with a focus on the eleven WSIS action lines . Out of 966 projects received by the WSIS, 360 were nominated for the Online Voting, following a comprehensive review by the Expert Group (ITU Focal Points For WSIS Action Lines). More than 1.3 million votes were cast in total against each project submission in which “Data discount scheme for students during the COVID19 pandemic” was among the top five most voted in the category.
The WSIS Prize 2022 Champion recognizes Bhutan’s effort in promoting WSIS values and Sustainable Development Goals (Goals 1, 3 & 4) by contributing to the promotion of education, reduction of poverty, greater inclusivity, as well as to the safety of pupils and students during the Covid-19 pandemic, all with the help of ICTs.
Details of the data discount scheme for student
A data discount scheme for students was provided during the most difficult months of the Coronavirus pandemic when all the educational facilities were closed in Bhutan. With the closure of the schools, universities, libraries, and laboratories, students and pupils were required to continue their academic sessions online. In response to this, the Ministry of Information and Communications in collaboration with Telecom Operators introduced discounted data schemes to enable all the students and pupils to access online learning. This initiative contributed to greater inclusivity, reduced poverty, as well as increased confidence in the use of ICTs.
The Ministry acknowledges the generous support received from the two Telecom Operators (Bhutan Telecom Ltd. and Tashi InfoComm Ltd.) in mitigating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in education, especially for enabling the marginalized children to continue learning.
The WSIS Forum represents the world’s largest annual gathering of ICT for the development community. The Forum is co-organized by ITU, UNESCO, UNDP, and UNCTAD, in close collaboration with all WSIS Action Line Facilitators/co-facilitators. The goal of WSIS is to achieve a common vision, desire, and commitment to building a people-centered, inclusive, and development-oriented information society where everyone can create, access, utilize and share information.