Re­vi­tal­iza­tion of Bhutanese val­ues

Business Bhutan - - Opinion - Am­rith Bdr Subba

Dur­ing my school days, the kind of re­spect we had for our teach­ers never changed even when they lashed us mer­ci­lessly. We did not have value-ed­u­ca­tion classes but we knew our bound­aries well. We have been cul­tur­ally groomed to be­lieve that teach­ers are like our par­ents and that we must re­spect them as much as we re­spect our par­ents. We have been con­vinced that we would earn re­spect if we know how to show re­spect to our el­ders and treat them with love and dig­nity. But sadly, this trend seems to be tak­ing a dif­fer­ent turn to­day. Prob­a­bly due to the ex­ces­sive ex­po­sure to western cul­tures through so­cial and main­stream me­dia out­lets that have emerged with the tech­no­log­i­cal rev­o­lu­tion of the mod­ern era, the youth of Bhutan ap­pear to be grad­u­ally drift­ing away from the unique so­cial and cul­tural val­ues of our coun­try that de­fine us as Bhutanese. This rapid de­cline of val­ues among the Bhutanese youth has trig­gered im­por­tant dis­cus­sions in the govern­ment agen­cies in the re­cent times. Upon the Royal Com­mand of His Majesty the King, the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion has al­ready started work­ing with the Royal Ed­u­ca­tion Coun­cil (REC) to ex­plore ef­fec­tive ways of in­cul­cat­ing our own na­tional val­ues into the young gen­er­a­tion. The first draft of the cur­ricu­lum frame­work for teach­ing val­ues de­vel­oped by REC was pre­sented dur­ing the spe­cial meet­ing con­vened on 19th June 2017. The cur­ricu­lum frame­work which is based on the core Bud­dhist val­ues of Tha-Damt­shi and Le-Jung­drey does not nec­es­sar­ily rec­om­mend the val­ues to be taught as a sep­a­rate dis­ci­pline. It can be in­te­grated into the reg­u­lar cur­ricu­lum and the daily ac­tiv­i­ties in the schools. One of the most im­por­tant meth­ods high­lighted in the frame­work is mod­el­ling which, I think, can truly make a dif­fer­ence. Chil­dren are great im­i­ta­tors and hence, they can eas­ily learn from their role mod­els. At home, they learn from how their par­ents be­have and in the school, they can learn from the way their teach­ers in­ter­act with peo­ple around them. Teach­ing val­ues does not be­come prac­ti­cal un­less you prac­tice what you preach. At home, we tell our chil­dren that it’s not good to take al­co­hol but we of­ten send them to buy it for us. This is def­i­nitely not the way how val­ues should be taught. My chil­dren say that some of their teach­ers in the school do not give a damn about them even when they greet them on the way. Now what kind of val­ues can our chil­dren learn if the teach­ers them­selves do not demon­strate what they teach? If all the par­ents and teach­ers can demon­strate val­ues while in­ter­act­ing with peo­ple around them ev­ery day, we don’t even have to hire ex­perts from abroad to teach us hu­man val­ues in the coun­try. As His Majesty the King al­ways says, Bhutan has enough val­ues that strongly de­fine our cul­tural and so­cial life. Now we just have to fig­ure out how to re­vi­tal­ize them and align them ac­cord­ing to the so­cial, eco­nomic and po­lit­i­cal de­mands of the 21st cen­tury. In ad­di­tion to the ad­vent of western cul­tures and life­styles, I think an­other sig­nif­i­cant cul­prit that killed our age-old val­ues in to­day’s youth could be the in­flu­ence of mod­ern science that fos­ters ra­tio­nal think­ing and de­means blind faith. In olden days, we feared God so much be­cause we strongly be­lieved in his su­per­nat­u­ral pow­ers. The Dzongkha text­book that said “If we don’t re­spect our teach­ers, we would be reborn as dogs for 500 lives or even if we are born as hu­man be­ings, we will be born with dis­abil­ity” was enough to con­vince us that teach­ers truly de­serve to be re­spected and hon­ored for their self­less con­tri­bu­tions. We never ques­tioned what was writ­ten in the re­li­gious or aca­demic text­books. We were con­vinced that if we tell lies or de­ceive oth­ers, we would head straight to hell and that we would be boiled to death. We were also con­vinced that if we re­spect oth­ers and treat them with un­con­di­tional love and com­pas­sion, we would di­rectly go to Heaven. Re­gard­less of whether God truly ex­ists or not, the god-fear­ing cul­ture used to def­i­nitely play an im­por­tant role in dis­ci­plin­ing us and in­still­ing in us ba­sic hu­man val­ues that helped us de­fine who we are when we grew up. But if we im­pose those be­liefs on the present gen­er­a­tion to­day, I am al­most sure that they hardly hold any wa­ter.

Nev­er­the­less, I be­lieve that the new frame­work has con­sid­ered var­i­ous mod­ern ap­proaches to teach­ing val­ues to chil­dren in the schools and two of the schools where it has been pi­loted have re­ported that it has been a suc­cess. The re­search study car­ried out by REC has man­aged to iden­tify some gaps among the ex­ist­ing poli­cies and guide­lines re­gard­ing the value ed­u­ca­tion pro­grams in the schools in Bhutan. So the new cur­ricu­lum frame­work is ex­pected to fill up those gaps and stream­line the meth­ods of in­cul­cat­ing Bhutanese val­ues into our chil­dren and youth across the coun­try. Once the frame­work is fi­nal­ized and im­ple­mented in all the schools in Bhutan, I am hope­ful that the long-awaited dream of His Majesty the King and the Royal Govern­ment of Bhutan will soon be ma­te­ri­al­ized. But what we should re­mem­ber is that the kind of fu­ture our chil­dren are head­ing to largely de­pends on how we as par­ents and teach­ers guide them ev­ery day. We should never be tired of teach­ing and show­ing them val­ues, be it at home or the school. We should never hes­i­tate to ex­pose them to our own cul­tural prac­tices. Af­ter all, they are the fu­ture cus­to­di­ans of our cul­ture and tra­di­tions af­ter we are gone.

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