RTC promotes access to inclusive education

Paralympic athletes Chimi Dema & Sapuna Subba (Pic: RTC)

STAFF REPORTER | Thimphu

The newly formed Bachelor of Sports and Health Sciences program at Royal Thimphu College (RTC) welcomed two new students in 2022, Chimi Dema and Sapuna Subba, as part of the inclusive education initiative.

They have been given full scholarships to continue their academic pursuits by RTC in collaboration with the Bhutan Olympic Committee (BOC).

Paralympic athletes Chimi and Sapuna have competed for Bhutan at numerous international paralympic competitions.

Chimi, 29 from Mongar made history by becoming the first female Paralympian after competing in the Paralympic Games last year.

She began her career as a shotput athlete in 2018 with the Bhutan Paralympic Committee. Since then, she has competed in numerous international paralympic competitions, most recently the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

Sapuna from Dagana is a para-badminton athlete and is the first female para-athlete to bring home two bronze medals from the Asian Youth Para Games held in Bahrain, last year.

“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.

A key element of inclusive education is valuing diversity within the human community. As one of the Higher Education Institutions in Bhutan, RTC 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.