A key element of inclusive education is valuing diversity within the human community. As one of the Higher Education Institutions in Bhutan, Royal Thimphu College has been on a journey to provide and promote inclusive education since 2019 with the enrolment of the first visually impaired student on a full scholarship who successfully graduated in the summer of 2022. Recently, RTC welcomed two new students in 2022, Chimi Dema and Sapuna Subba to its newly launched Bachelor of Sports and Health Sciences programme. Chimi and Sapuna are paralympic athletes and have represented Bhutan in many international paralympic games. RTC in partnership with the Bhutan Olympic Committee (BOC) has supported them with full scholarships to pursue their degree studies.
Chimi started her journey as a shotput athlete at the Bhutan Paralympic Committee in 2018 and has since participated in many international paralympic games including the recent Tokyo 2020 Paralympic games. Sapuna is a para-badminton athlete and has brought home two bronze medals from the Asian Youth Para Games (AYPG). “We were very nervous when we first came to RTC and being surrounded by people we did not know was very overwhelming, but we were able to get along with our classmates and make friends within the first few days. Now we have our own group of friends that we hang out with”, said Chimi and Sapuna.
Chimi is currently serving as a part-time gym assistant on campus which gives her the opportunity to earn some monthly allowance from the college. She also helps students using the gym facilities to execute proper form and posture while working out. Sapuna has her badminton practice session every morning at the Multi-purpose hall with other students. Chimi and Sapuna wish to work at the Bhutan Paralympic Committee after graduating from RTC. “We want to give back to the organization that gave us endless opportunities. We want to advocate for people with disabilities and inspire them to come forward and achieve their dreams.”
Inclusive Education goes beyond simply including people with disabilities on campus, we must have a campus-wide effort to build a safe, welcoming, and supportive environment that creates a sense of belonging and respect for diversity. Royal Thimphu College reiterates its commitment to building an inclusive culture on campus and promoting access to education for everyone.