Bhutan, a tiny Himalayan kingdom, is a pioneer when it comes to protecting its environment. A country with a negative carbon footprint, which also is a carbon sinkhole, Bhutan’s constitution explicitly mentions that no less than 60 per cent of Bhutan must always remain forested.
With 72 per cent of its land currently covered by forests, Bhutan measures its success in Gross National Happiness, as opposed to Gross Domestic Product.
GNH, a model attributed to the fourth king of Bhutan H.H Jigme Singye Wanchuk, provides an extensive ground for green education and protection of the environment.
Being a Buddhist-majority country, every policy is based on Buddhist ideology and it is not surprising to find that the Bhutanese pay utmost attention and respect to environment.
To prepare the future of Bhutan in accordance to GNH model, schools have incorporated ‘Green Schools for Green Bhutan’ scheme.
The ‘Green Schools for Green Bhutan’ model aims to form an ecologically stable and progressive society. The learning in such a model includes all academic disciplines, specific educational strategies, and aims to fill in the chasm between education, nature, and community. This model aims to teach the students to think, to reflect and to feel concerned about the natural surroundings. It creates a classroom environment which respects the Earth by teaching the students how to use the natural resources judiciously. Additionally, it also promotes a feeling of compassion and adjustment among students and empowers them to live in harmony with nature.
There are eight indicators which are related to the GNH model and evaluate the achievement of ‘Green Schools for Green Bhutan’ model:
- Naturally or environmentally green
- Intellectual greenery
- Academic greenery
- Social greenery
- Cultural greenery
- Spiritual greenery
- Aesthetic greenery
- Moral greenery
The activities undertaken by the Green School for Green Bhutan programme are as following:
- While it is very common in the west for a classroom to have a class tree or a class pet, the children in the schools are encouraged to maintain a class tree.
- Each classroom has a tree to look after and a flower garden to tend.
- The classes are responsible for maintaining the cleanliness and greenery around the school premises.
- The materials and the waste from school are encouraged to be recycled.
- Under the ‘green clean’ scheme, the students are made to sweep the school each morning by handmade brooms.
- The school has a kitchen garden which the students look after.
- The stray animals near the school are fed on a regular basis and provided shelter for the night in the school compound.
- The students are required to meditate before the classes begin in the morning.
- Towards the end of the school day, for ten minutes, the students are asked to walk around the greenery appreciating the natural beauty.
- The walls of the school are precariously decorated with blooming flower pots and medicinal herbs.
- The students are taught to identify medicinal herbs in the wild and how to use them in the case of emergency.
As the seventh largest country in the world, India has an important lesson to learn from this tiny Himalayan nation. The current afforestation and environmentally conscious policies of Modi government seem like an apt and progressive step in recognising the ecological problems and finding solutions for them.