Today I was in Paro with other four colleagues from my office to attend the advocacy program on the use of mPowerYOUth, a mobile application designed to help youth access various services provided by various agencies working for young people in Bhutan. This application has been developed by the Department of Youth and Sports, MoE in collaboration with the G2C Office as part of the government’s efforts to streamline and enhance the public service delivery. With this application in place, it is expected that youth will be able to avail various services just through their mobile phones and hence, their needs and concerns can be taken care of easily.
Today was the first day of the workshop and we had a meaningful interaction and discussion on the use of this application. Facilitated by the developer of the app and officials from G2C Office and DYS, we were familiarized with different aspects and basic functions of this mobile application and I have learned that it can really function as a bridge between the service providers and youth who avail them. Once it becomes fully functional, it would be very easy and comfortable for young people to avail various services that are designed to cater to their needs. As of now, different agencies have been providing different services for youth through their own outlets which are not easily accessible for every youth in the country. As a result, many young people are not able to access the services they require. But with mPowerYouth in place, one can easily avail youth-friendly services just through a mobile phone that has this application installed in it.
mPowerYouth has so many interesting features that enable youth to access all types of services. In addition to the feature that enables youth to share their thoughts and register for a counseling service, youth can also access various types of information such as upcoming events and updates from various relevant agencies. What is most important about this application is that everything shared through this platform is confidential and private. The details of the client such as their contact numbers, email address and the information provided are accessible to only the web administrator who would analyze the case and make appropriate referrals to the nearby counselors or relevant professionals for support. For instance, if someone in Punakha feels the need to see a counselor for some personal issues, he/she can simply open the mPowerYouth app on the mobile phone and register for a counseling service. The details first go to the administrator who would analyze the case based on the information provided and look for the nearest counselor or professional helper who could help that person. The administrator might even contact the client during the assessment process in order to help the counselor get clearer picture of the client and the issues affecting him/her before actually providing the service.
Another interesting feature of the app is that you have the option to subscribe for updates even via SMS. This means that all the latest updates will be notified to you via SMS free of cost. You can also dial the emergency hotlines such as 113 for police, 112 for ambulance and 110 for fire, directly from the app. So this app has almost everything that can connect youth to a number of appropriate interventions and services just at the touch of their finger.
How this app works is that it is linked to a number of websites such as Youth Development Fund, Department of Youth and Sports and so on and anything updated on those sites would automatically appear on the mobile app. However, the app is still being designed and developed, and it will take sometime for it to be fully functional and effective. As of now, only the Android version of the app is available for download in the Play Store. The IOS version will be available soon.
Despite serious discussions, the workshop was also a weekend treat for us. During the lunch break, we had the opportunity to go around Tashi Namgay Resort, the venue for the workshop and enjoy the beautiful scenery lulled by the romantic murmur of Pachhu River. Besides, we also could interact with other participants most of whom were school counselors from different Dzongkhags. Tomorrow is the final day of the workshop and I hope it would also be equally interesting and meaningful.
Caution for students
- This mPowerYouth app cannot be an excuse for you to ask your parents for a smart phone. You can access the services even through your parents’ phones or somebody else’s.
- Most of the schools have school counselors who can directly help you. So, you need not carry your smart phones to school. This way, you will not violate the regulations of your school that require you not to bring your phones to school.
- This app can be used only when you are out of school or during your vacations.