Bhutan Alumni Stories

Alumni Achievement Story: mPowerYOUth

The Government of Bhutan through the G2C (Government to Citizen) Office under the Prime Minister’s Office organized a mobile app development competition with the aim of enhancing public service delivery. Participants were invited to design and submit mobile apps in three categories: 1) Health and Education; 2) Youth and Women; and 3) Public Safety.


Sonam Tobgay, an Australia Awards alumnus working with the Ministry of Information and Communication (MoIC) took part in the competition under the Youth and Women category and won first place for his app called the “mPowerYOUth”. This mobile app enables youth to access counselling services with complete anonymity. Through the app, youth can also receive information on youth events, information on the locations of counselling centres, helpline numbers, contact details of counsellors in various locations in the country, and news feeds. The app was officially launched by Lyonpo Dawa Gyeltshen, Minister for Home and Cultural Affairs on 11 August 2015. The app is available for download at the Google Play Store.

After successfully completing his Master of Computer Science from the University of Western Australia (UWA) in 2013, Sonam returned to the Ministry of Information and Communication where he worked. Besides his normal IT sector functions, Sonam was always looking for opportunities to showcase the knowledge and skills he acquired from his Australian education experience. G2C’s call for mobile apps competition gave Sonam the right platform to put his learning to use.

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Tashi Wangmo - Bhutan

ImageIn 1997, Tashi Wangmo graduated as a Mechanical Engineer from the University of Wollongong (UoW) in New South Wales. She was one of the first AusAID graduates from Bhutan.

Before studying at UoW, Tashi studied at Sherubste College in Eastern Bhutan, at that time the only college in the country. While there, she was awarded the General Proficiency Medal (silver) in both 1991 and 1992.Tashi returned to the Civil Service in Bhutan in 1999, after completing her studies at UoW. She started as an Assistant Engineer with the Civil Aviation Division but transferred quickly to the newly-established National Technical Training Authority (NTTA). She began formulating plans and programs in technical and vocational education and training to be implemented locally.

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Lily Wangchhuk - Bhutan

ImageLily Wangchhuk was a writer, travel operator and consultant working for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs when she applied for an AusAID scholarship in 1999. As a Protocol Officer, she planned, coordinated, organized and maintained public relations. She was also attached to the Bilateral and Multilateral Affairs for South Asia and SAARC Division, where she successfully pursued implementation of many SAARC events.

She was a member of the Bhutanese Delegation to the 10th SAARC Summit held in Colombo .

She studied at the Australian National University Canberra in 2000, graduating with a Master’s in Public Policy, specialising in Diplomacy and International Policy.

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Dasho Pema Thinley - Bhutan

A life-changing ride with the Yaks

ImageDasho Pema Thinley, Vice Chancellor at the Royal University of Bhutan, fondly recollects the day in 1969 when he began a life-changing journey from Trashigang, in Eastern Bhutan, to Australia. He had just completed his matriculation, but the education system in Bhutan did not go beyond that level and Indian institutions did not recognize the Bhutanese matriculation certificate.

The Ministry of Development (as it was then) secured five scholarships under the Colombo Plan for him and other four boys to study in Australia. They all enrolled at Hale School, a private school in Western Australia, 20 kilometres north-west of Perth. ‘If I had not received the scholarship and not pursued higher education in Australia,’ Dasho Pema said, ‘my life would have taken a totally different course’.

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