Transformative Education for Gross National Happiness (GNH) is a teacher action research project in Bhutan to implement initiatives to promote GNH in schools. The project is a partnership between Oulun Lyseon lukio in Finland, the Royal Education Council and 7 GNH Seed schools in Bhutan.
In October 2010, Timothy Bedford and Rosalind Cooper from Oulun Lyseon lukio were invited to visit the Royal Education Council and schools in Paro, Bhutan. Following project presentations at the Royal Education Council and 2 schools, it was agreed to begin an initial 3 year Transformative Education for GNH project.
The aim of the project is to develop the capacity of 7 GNH Seed schools in Paro to:
1. develop, implement and disseminate examples of good practice of Education for GNH
2. engage in a South-North dialogue with Finnish schools about sustainability
3. create joint projects with Bhutanese and Finnish schools for implementing Education for GNH/Sustainable Development
Global Education, and Education for GNH/Sustainable Development have emerged as important priorities in the Bhutanese, Finnish and other education systems. Building the capacity of schools is essential to meeting the local and global challenges of sustainability.
North countries such as Finland consume resources at a rate as if they live on 4 planet earths, whilst in many South countries people live on less than a Euro per day. A South-North dialogue is therefore central to creating a just and sustainable world.
Project Implementation and Timetable
The Transformative Education for GNH Project has an action research design with a focus on capacity building to develop and implement teacher initiatives to promote GNH in schools.
The project commenced in January 2011 with the planning of a 1st leadership training course which took place in May 2011. There were 25 teachers participating from 7 GNH seed schools in Paro, Bhutan. The course was facilitated by Timothy Bedford and Rosalind Cooper.
The main objective of the leadership training course was for teachers to develop action research, transformative pedagogy, media literacy and ICT skills across the curriculum to promote Education for Gross National Happiness.
At the end of the leadership training course each school had developed an action plan for promoting GNH. After the course they began implementing their plan using an action research approach supported by the Royal Education Council.
In April 2012 there was a 2nd leadership training course with the same schools. During the course transformative pedagogy, media literacy and ICT skills were explored in more depth. In addition participants engaged in GNH documentary filmmaking to introduce to students back in their schools. Also the participants developed a new one year action research plan.
As part of the project evaluation and dissemination of the outcomes, we
spent two weeks in Paro in May/June 2013, visiting participating schools and interviewing the teachers about their action research. The evaluation highlighted the dedication of the participating teachers, and demonstrated the power of teacher action research and transformative pedagogy to provide a solid foundation for transforming Bhutan’s education system to achieve the country’s GNH goals.
Further details of the project can be found at The Transformative Education for GNH website.