After the initiation of Educating for Gross National Happiness (GNH) in schools, GNH has been infused in the curriculum and value education (VE) classes dismissed.
However, how effective this transition has been still remains to be seen.
The Director General with the education ministry (MoE),Tshewang Tandin, said that now every activity in schools emphasizes GNH values so VE classes are unnecessary.
Children are educated on human values and GNH by their subject teachers along with other subjects.
“We don’t have a separate VE class but every single class is a class of value”, said Dawa Drakpa, a teacher from Jishong Middle Secondary School, Gasa.
Another teacher from Samdrup Jongkhar Middle Secondary School also feels that there is no need for separate VE classes.
“We don’t have a separate curriculum framed for VE, so any teacher with less number of classes are assigned to take up these classes,” he said adding that teachers are able to teach other subjects productively during the VE classes.
According to the Bajothang principal, Shankar Lal Dahal, GNH-infused education is more effective than having a separate class for values as every subject imparts its own value.
The addendum to the third annual report of the Prime minister to the seventh session of the first Parliament on the State of Nation: Education, 2011, states that students’ understanding of our culture, regard and understanding of nature, and mindfulness have improved while disciplinary problems have reduced significantly.
However, there are dissenters.
According to Sonam Tshomo, a business woman in Trongsa, most of the youths today are not aware of their own culture and tradition.
“Ask a high school graduate for the symbol and significance of our national dress; they won’t be able to answer,” she said.
She also said that parents and teachers today respect children more than vice versa.
Sonam Tshomo feels that this is because youth are more interested in aping the western culture.
“Therefore, there should be a separate curriculum framed for VE classes where students are made aware of the importance of our culture, and regard and respect for elders are cultivated,” she added.
Pema Lhamo, a non-teaching staff in a school in Gelephu feels that children in remote schools have more civic sense and respect for their elders than students in town.
“Students with values would never think of planting bombs outside a teacher’s room,” she said referring to the Bajothang incident on March 1.
However, Thubten Tshering, a dzongkha lecturer in Sherubtse College says that though values should be taught to students, “it is in their hands to put them into practice”.
“Some students in college are well disciplined and respectful while some are not; it is not because some learnt and some didn’t. But the difference lies in implementation.”