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Report of the 2011 UNESCO/Republic of Korea Fellowship Programme

posted May 17, 2012, 8:37 PM by Sangay Dorji   [ updated May 21, 2012, 9:59 PM by Udhim Subba ]
In the wake of globalization, I have realized that the boundaries have disappeared and distance shortened where everybody is a just a press of button away. Today the world has shrunk into a global village, and the people have become mere global citizens placed in a huge cauldron of integration of race, ethnicity and cultural diversity. Now the time has come to prepare our children in our classrooms to open new global gateways and inspire them to explore beyond our national borders. The confined walls have to be widened into a One World Classroom and the lessons made universal that discusses mutual coexistence, inter-cultural understanding, humanitarian values, and work collectively to curb the existing problems that concerns our shared future.

As an educator, participating from a very small country, Bhutan, I personally feel it was a good opportunity to attend the UNESCO/ROK fellowship programme in Seoul, South Korea from 22nd June to 23rd August 2011 which was a capacity building workshop for educators from nineteen different countries of Asia-Pacific region and Africa. The programme was funded by UNESCO and Republic of Korea. It indeed helped me in broadening my views on the immediate need of education and to prepare our younger generation to become a responsible global citizen of our world today. All the sessions of the programme were very enriching and informative. My project on Role of ICT in promoting EIU and GNH was a new and an interesting experience which also gave me an opportunity to deepen my understanding about our country’s philosophy of Gross National Happiness and find some ways to give it a global dimension in line with the principles of Education for International Understanding. 

The programme  also had several informative sessions on leadership in global education where the participants were exposed to the present global issues of the world and the important role that educators around the world can play in imparting the core global values to our children to ensure a sustainable future. It was a practical experience and a realization that Culture of Peace is a set of values, attitudes, modes of behavior and ways of life that reject violence and prevent conflicts by tackling their root causes to solve problems through dialogue and negotiation among individuals, group, communities and nations.Education for international understanding  was the main theme of the UNESCO fellowship programme. It was a huge platform to share various cultural dimensions about our country with other fellow participants and also learn from them the other side of the world. It was interesting as well as challenging to stay in a large group with huge cultural diversity but the best experience was - we all learnt to live together happily with all our differences. We found that it is simply possible.

Education for International Understanding (EIU) is a value based approach to education where children grow up with the values of culturing peace, respecting the essence of sustainable development, globalization, human right and cultural diversity. The participants were made to realize that it is high time for every country to develop such a curriculum in their education system where the children are imparted high level of human values so that they grow up to care the world with love and compassion.

It was of course a proud moment for me to share with my fellow educators around the world, our country’s noble principle of Gross National Happiness and its recent entry into the National Education System. I feel good to share that the educators around were impressed with the type of education system with which we are heading our future. The principles and values of Education for International Understanding will not be something very new to the Bhutanese educators since its essence are very much in line with the principles of GNH. However teachers and educators in the country need to be made aware about the new global dimension that GNH can still have for creating a better world together. 

We the educators in the field  (implementers) in the field also need to go on with the steady journey of achieving the goal of GNH which of course needs lots of efforts and sacrifices on our part. It is high time teachers need to be given a prime concern and the nation should in a way divert its attention towards motivating these educators in producing the expected GNH graduates which is truly possible. We all need to cooperate. We also need to realize that the four pillars of GNH can only be sustained by a fifth important pillar which is Education – mainly teachers should pave the way at the grass root level. It is my pleasure to inform the UNESCO HQ, APCEIU, Bhutan National Commission for UNESCO and the Ministry of Education, Bhutan, that the ideas and knowledge learnt during the fellowship programme are shared with all my colleagues and students back in my country and every effort has been made to implement those noble principles in my own little ways whenever and wherever possible. 

It is affirmatively assured that many other EIU and GNH practices will be carried out in the region in days to come in order to spread the message of peace and happiness to the people. Hope our little efforts will make a difference in people’s lives and contribute to the culture of peace in the world. The Asia Pacific-Center of Education for International Understanding (APCEIU) provided the best of support and guidance to all the participants for the successful completion of the fellowship programme. The whole programme module developed by APCEIU was simply an excellent one and every part and section of it was very interesting, informative and enjoyable. Therefore I would like to whole heartedly thank UNESCO and Republic of Korea for giving me the beautiful opportunity to grow as an educator and more importantly as a global citizen.

I also would like to thank the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) for rendering the best of hospitalities during our entire stay in Korea. Back in Bhutan I would like to thank the Bhutan National Commission for UNESCO and the Ministry of Education for their utmost help and support rendered in completing the fellowship programme in Seoul. Finally let me convey my deepest gratitude for all the faculty members of APCEIU for their excellent coordination and conduction of the programme. At least an individual from deep within has changed and determined for creating a better world together.

Udhim Subba
UNESCO ASPnet Coordinator
Yebilaptsa Middle Secondary School
Ministry of Education
Alumni of APCEIU