International conference highlights need to infuse social and emotional well-being ideals in education

A six-day international conference at the Paro College of Education highlighted the need to place equal importance on students’ social well-being as much as their academic success. The symposium titled ‘Reimagining Education from the Gross National Happiness Perspective’ concluded today. Around 250 international and local participants took part in the event.

A study carried out by the Paro College of Education found that there is a lack of awareness among students regarding their mental health and well-being.

The education ministry established an innovative educational paradigm, Educating for Gross National Happiness, across schools in the country in 2010.

However, the Paro College of Education revealed that the model failed to meet expectations. Therefore, the conference is attempting to reinvigorate this model.

The event gathered together professionals and educationists from around the world to share their best practices and how to successfully incorporate the aspects of GNH into the education system.

Kezang Sherab (PhD), the dean of Research and Industrial Linkages of Paro College of Education said, “There has been a focus on teaching the content, focus on examination and output. Students are ranked based on their academic performance and as a result there has been negligence on the well-being part. In the long run, this is going to have a lot of negative impact on our nation because we are building our citizens.”

“In almost every session, experts say that emotional wellbeing and social wellbeing are a must in education. Few years ago schools across the country was introduced to ideas like transformative pedagogy, communication skills, Educating for Gross National Happiness and Search Inside Yourself programme to enhance social and emotional well-being of students and teachers. I think once we go back to our schools, all of us should infuse these ideals in our teaching,” said  Namgyal Tshering, the principal of Dechentsemo Central School in Punakha.

Similarly, Tshering Euden a consultant of Contentment Consultancy in Thimphu said, “I am not saying that IQ is not important, it’s absolutely important but it should not come at the expense of EQ or emotional intelligence because it teaches you to maintain yourself and it make you mentally resilient and psychologically flexible to navigate and adapt to changing circumstances.”

Meanwhile, as part of the event, the Paro College of Education will establish an international institute on campus that addresses the needs of well-being and human development.

Furthermore, a selected group of experts will meet for a three-day retreat to discuss different programmes for the upcoming institute.

Namgay Wangchuk, BBS News, Paro

Edited by Kipchu

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