On a fast track to fulfilment

By 2013, Bhutan’s school system should be GNH [Gross National Happiness]-engendered

Educating for GNH 11 December, 2009 – Around 541 school principals and representatives of the two teacher colleges in Bhutan will meet on January 20 to ensure that GNH values and principles are brought into the school system starting from the 2010 academic year.

The prime minister, Lyonchhoen Jigmi Y Thinley, the education minister, the education secretary and director of the royal education council made this proposal yesterday. They would also be participating in the seven-day workshop with the principals next month.

This particular action plan is based on what was discussed in “educating for GNH workshop” this week, according to the executive director of GPI Atlantic, Ronald Colman, who is assisting the education ministry to host the workshop.

The January 20-27 workshop with principals and teacher colleges will produce concrete plans to initiate GNH practices in all the country’s schools and to prepare teachers for this transition, according to an official. “The prime minister has expressed his urgency and immediacy to bring GNH principles and values into the education system without delay and therefore, the proposal was made,” he said.

There will also be a full-fledged nationwide teacher education programme on GNH for all teachers. Teacher training colleges will ensure that teachers graduating in November 2010 will receive effective GNH orientation before graduation.

Education secretary Sangay Zam said that the January workshop would be to see what school principals could do to infuse GNH values and principles in their own schools. “We need to ask how a principal can inspire a GNH way of thinking in their own teachers and the broader community,” she said. “It’ll be a workshop to come up with the best methods.”

The government has also worked out a budget estimate of Nu 5.2 million for the workshop. Training and preparation of facilitators would start by December 22.

All participants and observers of the present workshop were yesterday asked to craft a daily or hourly programme for the January meeting.

“The principals need to realise GNH values and principles to provide leadership and inspiration to teachers and students in their schools. The January workshop should be for that purpose,” said a class XI student in Thimphu, Rohit Adhikari, who is one of the observers of the workshop.

Working with a group of international and Bhutanese observers to craft a daily programme for the winter principals and teacher colleges’ workshop, he said that principals and teachers must inspire students to practice GNH. “Bhutanese students do community and voluntary work during SUPW classes. A teacher or a supervisor must make an effort to make these classes interesting and explain the importance of the work to inculcate the value of community service,” he said. “The principals can think of an attractive name instead of SUPW or ways to inspire students to enjoy SUPW classes.”

One of the participants at the workshop told Kuensel that there are already a lot of programmes in Bhutanese schools that should be stimulated. “For example, Bhutanese students jointly clean their own classrooms at the end of the day, depending on a cleaning roster. While students continue to do that, a principal or a teacher can explain to the students the importance of collaboration, dignity of labour and cleanliness,” she said.

The government, with this educating for GNH workshop, has already set one-year and three-year goals. All school principals in the country would have received GNH-inspired education in the end of 2010.

By 2013, Bhutan’s school system should have GNH-minded teachers and a GNH-infused learning environment, and all Bhutanese children and youth will have access to these.

By Phuntsho Choden
Source: Kuenselonline

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