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YPEER Coordination Meeting held at Damphu, Tsirang

The colleges under the Royal University of Bhutan have their academic courses running successfully. Similarly, the Technical Training Institutes have numerous trades to provide the requisite skills to its trainees. Therefore, in the successful pursuit of knowledge and skills, it is felt imperative that the health and wellbeing of the young people in the Colleges and Training Institutes are taken care. Y-PEER Bhutan was set up in 2012 as part of the global network to promote Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) amongst young people through peer-to-peer approach and create public advocacy on emerging youth concerns through various peer-led initiatives thereby promoting the psycho-social health & wellbeing of the youth. Today, there are 15 YPEER Networks under YPEER Bhutan based in different colleges and TTIs.

In order to streamline and strengthen the functions of Y-PEER Networks based in Tertiary Colleges and Technical Training Institutes, a 2-day coordination meeting with the representatives of Colleges and TTIs was convened at the RAA Professional Development Center in Damphu, Tsirang from 27-28 September.

The primary objective of the meeting was to interact with the Management of Colleges/TTIs where the Y-PEER Networks are based and strengthen collaboration with them to enable Y-PEER Networks to function effectively and systematically. It is designed to facilitate the exchange of ideas and experiences amongst different Colleges/Institutes and discuss challenges for further improvement of the Networks.

The President/Dean of Student Affairs and two Student Service Officers each from 10 RUB Colleges (Royal Thimphu College, Paro College of Education, Norbuling Rigter College, College of Natural Resources, College of Language and Cultural Studies, Sherubtse College, Jigme Namgyel Engineering College, College of Science and Technology, Gedu College of Business Studies and Samtse College of Education), 4 TTIs (Khuruthang TTI, Chumey TTI, Rangjung TTI and College of Zorig Chusum, Trashi Yangtse) and Faculty of Nursing and Public Health, KGUMSB represented their Y-PEER Networks in the meeting.

Chaired by the Director General of Department of Youth and Sports, Ministry of Education, the meeting discussed various aspects of Y-PEER, its benefits to youth and the support the Networks are receiving from the Management. The participants were introduced to the core mandates and functions of Y-PEER so that they can have a clear understanding of the importance of such an initiative in their Colleges/Institutes and how it ensures the overall psychological and physical wellbeing of their students/trainees. The Chairperson in his opening remarks also reiterated the importance of investing on Y-PEER as it creates a platform for young people to share their concerns and seek support from their peers. He highlighted how it significantly contributes to the overall development of young people as it helps them grow up with values and make them more responsible and healthy.

The participants also shared updates on various initiatives taken by their Y-PEER Networks and the benefits their students/trainees have got from those services and activities. They acknowledged that Y-PEER has been making a difference in the lives of their peers within the Colleges/Institutes and that they should be given adequate support.

The participants also looked into various challenges faced by Y-PEER Networks in the Colleges/Institutes and discussed ways to address them. A way-forward was also developed for future follow-up. This activity is organized by the Youth Center Division, Department of Youth and Sports, Ministry of Education and supported by UNFPA.