Chokyi Gyatso Shedra, Eastern Bhutan

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Online book drive - a great (& easy) way to support the young monks education

Thanks to everyone who donated ...  in November 2010 we delivered 2 computers & printers plus a laptop to help the office at Dewathang.

                New computers in Dewathang office

Gross National Happiness Through Education

by Noa Jones

What is the measure of a truly successful society? Three decades ago, the King of Bhutan famously proclaimed that “Gross National Happiness is more important than Gross National Product.” Since then, Bhutan has pursued a unique development path that seeks to balance equitable and sustainable economic development with environmental conservation, cultural promotion, and good governance.
In December, 2009, the new democratic government of Bhutan launched an ambitious initiative to bring the principles, values, and practices of Gross National Happiness (GNH) into the country’s educational system. This includes a commitment to “deep critical and creative thinking, ecological literacy, practice of the country’s profound, ancient wisdom and culture, contemplative learning, a holistic understanding of the world, genuine care for nature and for others, competency to deal effectively with the modern world, preparation for right livelihood, and informed civic engagement.”
It might sound like a dream but GNH is now being put into practice. The government is backing an enormous overhaul of its education system. In the words of the country’s Prime Minister, Jigmi Y. Thinley: “What we want to see is nothing less than transformative.” The success of this initiative can serve as a model for schools around the world.

Dewathang – A Laboratory of GNH Education

Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche, a great visionary and one of Bhutan's most respected Buddhist teachers, has offered his one of his monasteries in south eastern Bhutan as a "laboratory," a place to create a model for GNH-based education. The Chokyi Gyatso Institute will be the first monastery in Bhutan to introduce a full secular curriculum of language, math, science, computer science, and social studies alongside traditional monastic studies.
The curriculum will be applicable to any school, not just monasteries. A "process approach" to education is currently in development with the aim to sharpen students’ critical thinking and to bring an ecological and societal focus to their studies. Students will be taught to examine everyday objects not just as items for consumption, to ask where products come from and where they go. Through this examination they will have a more integrated and long lasting understanding of the standard subjects—math, science, social studies. This approach is consistent with the Buddhist understanding of cause, condition, and effect, and of dependent arising.

The Ripple Effect

Recognizing that education is not separate from wider societal goals, Rinpoche has suggested that we link this remarkable educational initiative with a broader regional development plan. The Samdrup Jongkhar region, in which the monastery is located, is one of the poorest in the country. A committee has been appointed to spearhead a GNH-based ecologically-friendly development initiative in the region.
As part of that initiative, Chokyi Gyatso Institute has been fostering close working relations with surrounding communities. Monks will undergo special training so that they can travel into surrounding villages to counsel on fire prevention and alcohol abuse, and environmental issues. The monks are practicing what they preach; the institute is on track to become the first fully “green monastery” in Bhutan. Plastic has already been banned and monks are learning to grow vegetables.
One of the jewels of the region is the Jigme Namgyel Polytechnic – a division of the Royal University of Bhutan. The Polytechnic Director is prepared to work with us to create a Centre for Appropriate Technology, which can serve as a knowledge base for eco friendly development in the region.
These initiatives will have a far-reaching influences within Bhutan and beyond. The world now urgently needs models of curricular reform and sustainable development.

Achieving the Goal: Approach, Timeline

The GNH-based secular curriculum will be implemented at Chokyi Gyatso Institute at the start of the new academic year in Feb, 2011. An intensive curriculum design process has begun, preparing new materials in English language, math, and science that fully reflect a GNH approach and at the same time accomplish the core learning outcomes expected in these fields.
Experienced teachers, curriculum design experts, and top educators are being enlisted in the effort to prepare the highest quality materials. A full time coordinator has been hired to oversee the effort, and together with a curriculum design expert in math and science has begun mapping out the first course plans. The first priority is to develop an English language curriculum. Once these initial curricular materials are prepared, additional subjects will be added. And important step will be training Bhutanese teachers in the new methods.
GNH-based classroom materials will also be developed for broadcast on community radio stations for use in classrooms throughout the region and eventually nationwide.
The Polytechnic will begin an Introduction to Appropriate Technology course in Feb 2011, followed by more specialized courses in renewable energy, zero waste management, green building design, organic agriculture, and more. Two appropriate technology experts will design the initial course, train the Dewathang Polytechnic faculty, and begin work on more specialized courses.


 ... an article by Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche on educating for Gross National Happiness   Kuensel Newspaper - Many Questions, Few Answers

... Khyentse Foundation

...Watch a hand held (read wobbly) short video of Dewathang on YouTube

...See photos of Eastern Bhutan on

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