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Yebilaptsa UNESCO ASPnet focuses on Promoting Education for International Understanding (EIU)

posted Jun 8, 2012, 11:42 AM by Udhim Subba   [ updated Jun 12, 2012, 9:11 AM ]

Bhutan is a small Himalayan kingdom in the South East Asia which is striving hard to face the modernity with a very strong sense of humanitarian approach to development and Education. Bhutan’s development philosophy of Gross National Happiness (GNH) in some ways anticipates the idea of ‘human development’ and upholds the strong principles such as equality of all human beings, the interconnectedness of all sentient beings, and the human rights and responsibilities that must guide the human conduct. The Royal Government of Bhutan is thus determined for a unique transformation of its national education system by infusing a holistic, ecological and human principles and values in the main school curriculum.


Very much similar to GNH, Education for International Understanding (EIU) is a value based approach to education where our children grow up with values of culturing peace, respecting the essence of sustainable development, globalization, cultural diversity and human rights. The new vision of the Bhutanese Education system clearly states“...an educated and enlightened society of gyalyong gakid pelzom, at peace with itself, at peace with the world, built and sustained by the idealism and the creative enterprise of our citizen”, which was endorsed during the 14th Annual Education Conference in December 2010. The vision clearly harmonizes with the principles of EIU. This gives Bhutanese schools a huge platform to implement the principles of EIU which are very much in line with the principles of Gross National Happiness. Lee Seunghwan, the director of Asia Pacific Center of Education for International Understanding (APCEIU) states “Bhutanese Educators have favorable settings for the implementation of EIU in its educational framework of the Gross National Happiness which sets conditions for EIU to easily fit into the existing curriculum”


Yebilaptsa Middle Secondary School is located in Zhemgang. It is a boarding school and most of the students come from remote villages of the district for their secondary education till 10th grade. Owing to its remote setting, children in the district remain unaware of the EIU issues that concern the peace and security of the world. However like any other schools in the country Yebilaptsa Middle Secondary School has also already begun its journey of following the GNH approach to education with a collaborative effort of the school administration and the entire faculty members. The school aspires to become a pioneer institution of implementing the values of EIU by integrating them with the GNH curriculum. As a positive point, the registration of the school as the member of UNESCO Associate School Project network in 2010 has further aided in carrying out many other productive activities in the school for the promotion of EIU.


In order to fulfill the above holistic goals, UNESCO club coordinator started the mission by conducting school based in-service programmes in the school. The professional Development Programme Policy of the school has provided a very good platform to disseminate the pedagogical concepts of EIU to rest of the teacher colleagues and students. Resourced by the UNESCO club Coordinator, an alumnus of ACEIU, sharing of ideas on various aspects of EIU is already carried out as a part of school based in-service programme. It has helped in broadening the teachers’ views on the present global issues and our roles as educators to work towards preparing our youth for a more sustainable future. It is important to ignite in the minds of our young children, the flame of love and compassion for the world we are living in.

In 2012, so far the UNESCO club has carried out few of its major activities. Good waste management strategies are put in place to keep the surrounding clean and green. The UNESCO club in collaboration with the scouts and School Environment and Agriculture Club have come up with the initiative of making children aware about the importance of reducing and managing waste. The school has also shown a great interest in working collaboratively with the local and as well as international community for creating awareness of the world forest and the environment. The school has already registered for the Environment Online Movement, ENO, which is a global virtual school and network for sustainable development. ENO studies environmental themes and arranges campaigns simultaneously around the world. Over 10000 schools from 150 countries have taken part since 2000 (www.enoprogramme.org). The ENO programme is coordinated and maintained by ENO Programme Association based in the city of Joensuu, Finland. The UNESCO club coordinator of the school is nominated as the National Coordinator for ENO with the recommendation of the Bhutan National Commission for UNESCO. The students are made aware about being a member school of the ENO and their role to be an extra conscious citizen deeply concerned about the world forest.

Equitable and sustainable socio-economic development is one of the four principle domains of the philosophy of Gross National Happiness. Therefore, the school gives importance on the development of human values in children, values of respecting the essence of sustainable development and the idea of living in harmony with the earth. The club has also worked collaboratively with the literary club in organizing a debate competition on EIU themes.  The topics for the debate were as follows

·         For senior category (class IX and X): “Economic Development contributes more to GNH than conservation of environment”

·         For Junior category (class VII and VIII): “Bhutan should use more forest resources for economic development”

The above topics were chosen in order to inculcate the values of sustainable development in children and to make the programme more meaningful, the debate was held on 2nd June 2012,  the Social Forestry Day. Initiated by the School Environment and Agriculture Club, the school also planted a very good number of new tree saplings in the areas where the forest was destroyed by a forest fire recently.

Inter-cultural understanding is a very important aspect of EIU. The club organized an EIU cultural Nite on 2nd and 3rd June 2012 with a theme “Let us celebrate Diversity”. Various traditional dances of different regions of the world were performed by the participants to give a global exposure to the audience and help develop a feeling of understanding to all humanity. The students and the entire community people shared an enjoyable time, witnessing different cultural items performed by the students. The students and the community learnt more about the values of accepting and celebrating cultural diversity. The amount collected from the cultural show will be soon sent to the Bhutan National Commission for UNESCO for further submission to the UNESCO headquarter as our symbolic contribution for making a better world together.

The journey doesn’t end here. We all need to realize that our world is becoming sick, more each day and therefore let us all do something in the school, at home and in the society.  Let us also bring up our younger ones with best of human values so that they grow up to become a humble, respectful and responsible citizen of the world. Both parents and teachers are equally responsible and in fact it is the responsibility of the entire society to show our upcoming generation, a humble way of living on this deteriorating planet. Let us all join our hands to make our world a better place to live in. Till then the entire family of Yebilaptsa MSS wish all our readers lots of health and happiness.

By: Udhim Subba

UNESCO ASPnet Coordinator

Yebilaptsa Middle Secondary School