I visited the Kingdom of Bhutan and learned from Excellency Lyonpo Thakur S Powdyel, its former Minister of Education who’s leading a team of architects of the Green School, that “The education sector had found a prominent place in Bhutan’s development history, since the first five-year plan in 1961. As Bhutan galloped on the development freeway, hundreds of schools were constructed across the country. Thousands of children found a place in these institutions of learning, and the numbers snowballed every year.”
Powdyel added, “The concept of ‘Green School for Green Bhutan’ become an action in the education system of Bhutan. The real aim of this concept is to develop the character and individuality of the people, their mind, heart, and soul power. It teaches the students to be nature lovers and teaches the co-existence with other living species, nature & society. The pursuit of excellence in education is not a solitary mission. Without teachers, students will not be able to move ahead. An excellent teacher moulds outstanding students.”
Bhutan aspires to be a country where development is holistic, inclusive and sustainable. This aspiration comes from the visionary statement “Gross National Happiness” (GNH) is more important than “Gross National Product” (GNP), first enunciated by His Majesty the Fourth King of Bhutan, King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, in the early 1970s – long before sustainable development became a global agenda. This very essence of sustainable development philosophy is based on the principle that true development takes place when material, emotional, and spiritual well-being occur to complement and reinforce promoting equitable socio-economic development, environmental sustainability, cultural and governance.
I had observed the Learning Experiences at the Druk School in Thimphu which has the mission “GNH in Action” and the slogan “Excellence in Body, Mind & Speech” transacted through various programmes such as Gomdri (orientation session), Yardak (booster session) and Shejun Phelrim (continuous evolutionary learning process). In addition, its students will attend Nature Retreats focused on physical rigour, appreciation of nature, and the continuous bonding between the teachers and the students with parents and communities.