It’s Tuesday, and Karma Lham is excited to begin her multimedia class for the week.

She carries her books and pencils in a little white bag, and walks over to the Bhutan Foundation office with her mother for morning lessons. Karma is always gregarious and greets everyone in the office as she walks into the conference room where she will virtually join eight of her friends to begin the two-hour online class. This week, she and her classmates will focus on drawing comic strips to better prepare her for a future career in digital marketing. As all primary schools in Bhutan remain closed due to COVID-19 social-distancing protocols, teens and young adults like Karma, who is autistic, remain home lacking social interaction and a proper routine.

Thanks to the multimedia program with AIMS Media and Perkins International, teens and young adults like Karma not only have a set routine and meet their friends virtually, but also learn multimedia skills, such as sketching, abstract painting, creative designing, photography, and other helpful skills for a future career. Karma and her classmates are the first cohort to attend this program and have just begun their sixth month. Her mother is proud of her accomplishments, saying, “Karma is able to really concentrate and focus on her work, and I am really impressed how her drawing skills have improved over the course of the past few months.” Likewise, Rigzin, who is the youngest in the group, has filled up his bedroom wall, pasting his latest work after each class. His mother shares that “ Rigzen’s motor skills seem to have improved, and it adds variation to his routine. He knows when to expect the class—the days and time and for how long. The program does offer a lot for the future, especially for my son who is not academically inclined and has all these difficulties.”

Alongside virtual programs like AIMS Media, our team has helped support students with disabilities and their parents during the national shutdown by providing Guidelines for Parents and Teachers of Children with Special Education Needs online. These guidelines provide everyday lesson plans and activities for parents to support the educational needs of their children at home during this crisis. We’ve also partnered with Perkins International, the Ministry of Education, and Hejo Day Care to support creating activities, teaching lessons online on YouTube, and developing new culturally-relevant educational toys, such as the Bhutan Blocks for children across age and ability levels. 

Check out more articles like this one in Remote Not Removed: Bhutan Foundation Annual Report 2020.