Some Humber faculty will be heading to Bhutan as the college is set to launch its biggest international project yet.
According to Nalini Andrade, the manager of the International Development Institute at Lakeshore, this project is called The Bhutan Education and Skills Training (BEST) and is funded by the Government of Canada. The scale of the initiative is bigger than past projects: it has a budget of $4.95 million and will last for five years.
“This is the largest development funding Humber has been working with and one of the biggest fundings Canada has given to Bhutan in the past couple of years,” says Nalini.
She says such a major project wasn’t a complete surprise: Bhutan itself requested Canada’s support in education on a post-secondary level and since the two countries have a long history of diplomatic and educational relationships, the BEST initiative was just a logical continuation of these international ties.
“Canada has a long history outside of Humber of supporting Bhutanese education system, that’s why it was open to such big collaboration,” says Nalini
Humber also wasn’t chosen randomly. It was the only post-secondary Canadian institution with previous experience working with Bhutan, making it a suitable candidate for the project.
Unlike smaller previous initiatives, which were primarily focused on promoting Humber, this one will include directly helping Bhutan to reform its education system and assist students in their job search.
According to Ana Garcia, an International Development practitioner from Humber and BEST project’s lead, some of the college’s staff will travel to Bhutan and work with local teachers to help them develop the school curriculum(preparing learning materials, rubrics etc) and implement new classes in their educational program.
“Under the project, a few different courses will be developed, including solar, photovoltaic, electrical engineering and graphic design,” says Garcia.
Humber will also help Bhutan develop career counselling for students, including how to create business plans and how to be an entrepreneur.
“We are going to help them create industry-responsive courses that will allow youth in Bhutan to have a high-quality education and then go into employment,” says Garcia.
In turn, experts from Bhutan will travel to Humber and share their knowledge and experiences, mainly about environmental sustainability and accessibility.
“Bhutan is the only country in the world which has a negative carbon emission. So their approach to interacting with the environment has been really effective and their knowledge of the subject is very valuable,” says Garcia.
She says such international collaborations are always great experiences and she looks forward to similar projects in the future.
“It’s always an amazing cultural exchange, especially with Bhutan: people there are so loving and caring, so open to collaborate and eager to share their knowledge. So it’s definitely not our last project together,” says Garcia.