Is Bhutanese Education system alive?

After sitting in on meetings at the Phuntsho Pelri hotel, and many a day’s observations, I noticed a recurring theme over and over again. The media people have come there and it was issued in paper as well. I just wonder how deep a thought has gone into the subject. The subject I am addressing , which is constantly debated and discussed by leading educationists and the scholars from the international delegates is CHANGE OF CURRICULUM in Bhutanese Education system, especially with more emphasis on GNH values.
Firstly, I would like to state that the current education system is excellent. This must not be locked away or sent away forever because of the sheer fact that our present leaders are the product of these education system. True,  there are beautiful ways of displaying GNH values, whether it is something small like making Grandmother’s recipe or as grand as Dzong. But the true essence of the GNH values exists in the people of Bhutan. There is also another aspect of education system which needs to be taken into account, and that is that evolution or change within the education system will be evolved within the schools, nations and to even to larger horizons.  The point is that it is the natural procession.

I think the biggest misconception; and it is the reason why these debates are regularly partaken in is because of the recognized difference between the GNH infused curriculum and the present educating curriculum. The present Education system is the gift bequeath upon people to hold onto and utilize. Presently our education system is never devoid of GNH principles. While the curriculum teaches the students with basic academic skills the GNH principles are innately inherent in the mind of Bhutanese children. This is simply because our tradition and culture is not yet lost.  Bhutanese teachers when teaching can impart the GNH values along with the present system of education. The text book content and the quality should be maintained and look into reconsideration, obviously.  The value education periods that we have today should be maintained, and any student who wishes to embrace and retain that which believers truly make them brighter should have that right.

When foreign ideas come into the existing principles of educating system, I am sure a lot of people would get confused; one may say that GNH idea is never a foreign, but the idea of instilling GNH values into current education system is in itself a foreign. In Dr Vandana Shiva’s keynote address, she addressed that, “along with the paradigm of growth there will naturally be the paradigm of change”, so what I am stating is that as our Bhutanese education system grows vast beyond the challenges of other countries education system there naturally will be the paradigm of change within itself.

So I personally feel that the real problem is how to exploit the GNH values and principles that is already there in the present context of education system. Which I feel is also a quite easily solved problem. Workshop as suggested, for one, making sure those precious deep rooted Buddhist values of our own tradition solely passed down to students practically, besides learning  text book.  

Secondly, simply through students themselves, making them work in group and recruiting the values which constitutes as embody of the text itself. A lot of students prefer the practical group works than just listening to the lecture of their teachers.  Therefore logically GNH values are like culture and heritage. It has been so far passed down through oral, aural, visual and many other facets to generation next. By  passing down these values from pre-primary class  until one finishes the high school diploma would successfully make a complete and humane and socially accepted GNH Graduate. 

Restating the thesis statement, one of the main strands of discussion in the Workshop including the Education Minister and Secretary is how adrift pour present textbook is from what is going to be a GNH infused textbook. For us Bhutanese our education system is deeply intertwined with the Indian education system, nevertheless we are never at a distance from GNH values. In Bhutanese education system the difference is that we are innately born Bhutanese and that, it is within us innately constitutes our own heart and mind along with GNH values. For us students, our present education system is deeply entwined with our values and our sense of who we are. To discard such sensibility in the name of having the new GNH infused textbooks would be catastrophic for us, Bhutanese students, be it either more developed one.

While it is the vision of the farsighted leader to change the system of education, it alone can create havoc among the student and teachers especially adopting the new curriculum. It may be a powerful and compelling platform to bring about a real change in the child’s cognitive development, it lone has the possibility to worsen the child’s cognitive development.


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