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Indo-Bhutan International Conference On Gross National Happiness Pages: 239-244

Vol 02, October 2013

Infusion of Gross National Happiness in Education


Tshering Gyem1, Minjur Dorji2, Tshewang Phuntsho3 123 Student, Gaeddu College of Business Studies 1 cringalex@gmail.com, 2tangpa363@yahoo.com, 3phuntsho.tshewang@yahoo.com Abstract This paper talks on education system in Bhutan, how, when, based on what objectives it was started and the changes that took place in the Bhutanese education system. Bhutan is a developing country and the education system followed is not very advanced but Bhutan does adopt modern education system. Moreover Bhutan is far behind in terms of everything and this makes Bhutan difficult to compete with other countries, therefore, in order to make Bhutan somehow unique from other countries, the forth Druk Gyalpo King Jigme Singye Wangchuk initiated the concept of Gross National Happiness in 1972. Since then, the Kingdom of Bhutan, with the support of UNDP (UN Development Program), began to put this concept into practice, and has attracted the attention of the rest of the world with its new formula to measure the progress of a community or nation. The concept of GNH is adopted by every schools and colleges as a part of subject and all the activities conducted in the schools are based on the concept of GNH, therefore, in this way GNH is related to education. Keywords: Monastic system, Modern Education, Source of happiness, lifelong education for people 1. Introduction Gross National Happiness (GNH) is an indicator developed in Bhutan in the Himalayas, based on the concept elaborated in 1972 by the then King Jigme Singye Wangchuk. Since then, the Kingdom of Bhutan, with the support of UNDP (UN Development Program), began to put this concept into practice, and has attracted the attention of the rest of the world with its new formula to measure the progress of a community or nation. GNH is based on the premise that the calculation of wealth should consider other aspects besides economic development, the preservation of the environment and the quality of life of the people. The goal of a society should be the integration of material development with psychology, cultural and spiritual aspects all in harmony with the earth. The Four Pillars of GNH The promotion of equitable and sustainable socio-economic development The preservation and promotion of cultural values The conservation of the natural environment, and The establishment of good governance. So, in order to attempt to reflect the holistic aspects of education, four indicators literacy, educational qualifications, knowledge and values were considered as follows: 1.1 Literacy A person is said to be literate if he or she is able to read and write in any one language, English or Dzongkha or Nepali. To reflect the learning that those who do not have primary schooling have achieved, as well as to re-affirm the learning of those who do, it begins by measuring literacy. This makes the overall education measure more accurate. For example, in the 2010 GNH survey, 1.9 per cent of respondents, mostly farmers, had achieved six years of schooling but were not literate, suggesting some quality issues in rural schools. Also, 13.6 per cent of Bhutanese are literate although they have not had six years of schooling either because they are self-taught, 239

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Indo-Bhutan International Conference On Gross National Happiness Pages: 239-244 or because they have some schooling but did not complete primary school, or because they attended a non-formal education programme (a number of these have been offered free by the government). Naturally most Bhutanese who have achieved six years of schooling are also literate, and this measure therefore recognizes their educational achievements. In literacy, 48.6 per cent have attained sufficiency. 1.2 Educational qualification The education system in Bhutan has two major components: formal education and non-secular institutions such as monastic schools. Nonformal education (NFE) was also started in the 1980s to provide functional literacy to the target groups such as the elderly. This educational indicator includes formal schooling, education imparted by monastic schools and NFE. The threshold for education was set such that a person has insufficient education if they have not completed six years of schooling from any source, including government, non-formal, or monastic schools. On the one hand, the Constitution of Bhutan (2008) states that, The State shall provide free education to all children of school going age up to tenth standard This might suggest that from 2008, the sufficiency cut off for education should be ten years. However, note that ten years of education in Bhutan is not compulsory so that would seem too stringent. The Tenth Plan of Bhutan states that The national goal is to achieve near 100 per cent enrolment at primary education. Primary schooling lasts six years for Bhutanese, hence six years is the minimum legal requirement. One might think that an even lower threshold might apply for older persons who did not have the opportunity to attend school as children, when the national goal was lower. However, if learning has intrinsic value, then it can add value for someone of every age. Further, Bhutan has adult educational programmes and programmes for disabled people. Also, the society in general stresses the value of equality among persons, so having International Journal of Business Intelligents (IJBI) www.ijbui.com

Vol 02, October 2013

different thresholds for youth would not enable the GNH to depict inequalities across generations. For these reasons, the threshold of six years of schooling for all people is set as sufficient for GNH at this time. With this threshold, only 37.3 per cent have attained six years of schooling. 1.3 Knowledge The knowledge questions attempt to capture learning which could have occurred either inside or outside of formal institutions. Family and community play equally important roles in creating a learning environment, and the media contributes as well. To validate such knowledge, five knowledge variables were chosen based on their importance and their applicability to all sections of society in the country. They are knowledge of local legends and folk stories, knowledge of local festivals (tshechus), knowledge of traditional songs, knowledge of HIV-AIDS transmission, and knowledge of the Constitution. Bhutan 2020 (Royal Government of Bhutan 1999) states the importance of educating people in the rich folklore, myths, and legends that transmit values and act as foundation for inculcating .an awareness and appreciation of the continuing and contemporary relevance of our culture and heritage to development of the individual, their families, their communities and the nation. Further, knowledge of local legends and folk stories has a spiritual significance, as well as acting as a medium of entertainment and celebration (Kinga 2001). The recent Constitution (2008) which transformed Bhutan from a monarchy to a constitutional monarchy provides the legal framework for the government, designates the powers and duties of the branches of government or governmental agencies, and establishes the relationship between the people and the government. Moreover, it enunciates the basic rights and obligations of citizens and encourages their political participation which is vital for the success of democracy. For these 240

Indo-Bhutan International Conference On Gross National Happiness Pages: 239-244 reasons and others, it is crucial for people to have at least some knowledge of the Constitution. Knowledge currently appears to be deficient, with only 1.6 per cent claiming very good knowledge. Since the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) was first detected in Bhutan in 1993, the prevalence of HIV infection has increased in urban areas. Rates in much of the rest of Bhutan that are much lower; nevertheless, these rates pose a considerable public health threat unless people have a good understanding of HIV/AIDS or the ability and inclination to behave in a lowrisk fashion, or both. Only 30 per cent of people claim to have a good understanding of how HIV/AIDS is transmitted. The responses for each knowledge question follow a five-point scale which ranges from very good knowledge to very poor knowledge. Responses are aggregated to create a maximum score of 25 that indicates very good knowledge in all areas, while the minimum score of 5 indicates very poor knowledge. The average knowledge score was 12.7 (SD=3.7) and the median score was 12. A significant positive correlation was demonstrated between education level and knowledge (r=.5). The threshold is set to 19 which imply that Bhutanese should have an average of good knowledge across the five variables. This additive indicator allows compensation across different kinds of knowledge. When the threshold is applied, only 7.5 per cent have sufficiency in knowledge. Sufficiency in knowledge is low compared to other indices; only 3 per cent rated good or very good in all five knowledge indicators. 1.4 Values Values are fundamental to human beings as they shape peoples character and the choices they make in their lives. The development of childrens value systems begins at home and is continued in schools and shaped by organizations and communities. Whether the values are channelled from an educational International Journal of Business Intelligents (IJBI) www.ijbui.com

Vol 02, October 2013

institution or from family or communities, traditional values have always had a huge role in shaping behavioural changes in the Bhutanese people. Based on Buddhist culture, they have been highly valued by citizens for centuries (Wangyal 2001). Bhutan 2020 (1999) states the desirability of cultivating universal values that develop the capacity of our young people to distinguish right from wrong, good from evil, and to lead lives that are guided by moral and ethical choices. The self-critical yet articulate cultivation of social and moral values is becoming more intentional as Bhutan modernises, because positive values enable people to manage the complexities that arise from the fast-changing environment. A concern for cultivating values has been also outlined in the Bhutan Development Report (Royal Government of Bhutan 2000) which states, Happiness in the future will also depend upon mitigating the foreseeable conflict between traditional cultural values and the modern lifestyles that inevitably follow in the wake of development. As the market takes its place in a society, there is a real risk of generational clashes and alienation. The 2010 GNH indicator of values used may be revised in future GNH surveys but provides some preliminary insight into these issues. Respondents were asked whether they considered five negative actions to be justifiable: killing, stealing, lying, creating disharmony amongst relationships and sexual misconduct. The variables have a three-point response scale ranging from always justifiable to never justifiable along with an option of dont know. The values have been combined into a composite indicator in a particular manner. For killing, stealing and sexual misconduct, a value of 1 is assigned if the person reports never justifiable while for creating disharmony and lying, responses either never justifiable or sometimes justifiable are assigned 1. The composite indicator takes the values 1 to 5. The threshold is set at four which imply that a person can consider at least one of the values 241

Indo-Bhutan International Conference On Gross National Happiness Pages: 239-244 to be justifiable. This allows for diversity in interpretations and ethical frameworks, as well as response bias. For example, with respect to the question on killing, there is a difference between killing a human being and killing an ant; there is also a difference between killing intentionally and killing inadvertently. The statement does not clarify the object nor the intention associated with the killing. Similarly, the question does not specify whether it is a white lie or a serious deception, whether stealing an egg or a herd of yak. This means that peoples answers will depend in part upon their interpretation of the question, and these may vary. Second, it allows a diversity of ethical frameworks. Opinions as to whether certain killings may be justified will vary among followers of different faiths and philosophies. Third, the responses to the questions again might reflect some selfconsciousness on the part of the respondent, whose responses might be biased by what they believe the expected or socially acceptable answer to be. The response structure enables people to say that some negative actions are sometimes justified such as lying and creating disharmony in human relations. But it cannot correct a positive bias in the underlying data. Even with a threshold of 5 (maximum score), about 85.2 per cent are classified as sufficient in values. However, to allow diversity, the threshold is set at four and 97.1 per cent achieve sufficiency in value. This question might be strengthened in future GNH surveys. 2.2 The Modern Education As we came to know clearly from the above literature, modern education refers to the process of educating the children in schools where the time for teaching-learning and the course of content are stipulated within a given time. Modern education differs in many ways from our monastic system. In the monastery, it is almost an informal system. The time for learning is set by individual teachers and the amount that can be taught depends upon the International Journal of Business Intelligents (IJBI) www.ijbui.com

Vol 02, October 2013

ability and the pace of learning of the students. Monastery follows the idea of lifelong education, that is, there is no limit to education. The novices are responsible to the teacher. 2.3 The emergence of Modern education in Bhutan 1914-first ever modern school in Bhutan established based on a western model The goals then were probably: 1. Basic literacy 2. Numeracy 1961 saw the emergence of schools in vast numbers across the kingdom with visionary aims and objectives. The goals were more defined after 1961 with the purpose that Bhutanese people would: Become literate and knowledgeable Acquire skills to use technology through literacy Easily communicate with people of other lands and country Safeguard the sovereign, independent status and unique identity of the nation 2.4 Purpose of education in Bhutan To provide a nationwide system of education that is: Responsive to the expectation of the country Relevant to the needs and aspirations of the country Efficient in the use of available resources 2.5 Three broad values of purpose of education

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Indo-Bhutan International Conference On Gross National Happiness Pages: 239-244 2.6 Organizational structure, ministry of education

Vol 02, October 2013

3. Conclusion Before 1961 the education system in Bhutan was monastic and it was almost an informal system. After 1961 the modern education system was introduced by the third Druk Gyalpo Jigme Dorji Wangchuk with some objectives and the system was formalized. More number of schools was established and more number of students was enrolled. Educating the students mentally was not the aim of Bhutanese education system but students were prepared both physically and mentally, therefore, the education system of Bhutan is based on wholesome education. Students are taught about the values and moreover the concentration increased after the Forth Druk Gyalpo Jigme Singye Wangchuk initiated the concept of Gross National Happiness. The concept of GNH is introduced as a part of subject in the schools and colleges. Every activity conducted in the institutes are based on the theme of GNH. Therefore, every student is educated well together with the concept of GNH. 4. Acknowledgment First and foremost, we would like to thank to our supervisor of this project, Mr. Clement Joe Anand for the valuable guidance and advice. He inspired us greatly to work in this project. His willingness to motivate us contributed tremendously to our project. We also would like to thank him for showing us some example that related to the topic of our project. Besides, we would like to thank the authority of Loyola College for providing us with a good environment and facilities to complete this project. Also, we would like to take this opportunity to thank to the Geaddu college of Business studies of Royal university of Bhutan for offering this opportunity to our group among thousand of students. It gave us an opportunity to participate and learn about the domain of Gross National happiness. Finally, an honorable mention goes to our families and friends for their understandings and supports on us in completing this paper. Without helps 243

Source: Internet (http://www.education.gov.bt/ministry) 2.7 Challenges of the Bhutanese education Infrastructure Human resource Budget constraint Technology Geographical location of the places 2.8 The alternatives to the challenges The government of Bhutan is putting in lots of efforts for the improvement of its education system. Some alternatives are: Foreign donors Establishment of more numbers of teacher training colleges Input of more budget into the five year plans for education sector The implementation of ICT into schools Establishing ECR (extended classrooms) International Journal of Business Intelligents (IJBI) www.ijbui.com

Indo-Bhutan International Conference On Gross National Happiness Pages: 239-244 of the particular that mentioned above, we would face many difficulties while doing this task. 5. References Website: Retrieved from: [1]http://www.bhutanobserver.bt/educatinggross-national-happiness-envisioning-gnhvalues-bhutanese-classroom/ on 20/12/2012

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[2]http://chimalaya.org/2012/12/02/grossnational-happiness-in-bhutan-the-big-ideafrom-a-tiny-state/ on 20/12/2012 [3]http://www.accu.or.jp/esd/forum_esd_2010/ program/program12_03/pdf/text2.pdf on 25/12/2012 [4]www.education.gov.bt on 25/12/2012

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