Fellowship gives an educational boost to Bhutan's "gross national happiness"

The four fellows from the Royal University of Bhutan's Paro College of Education, from the left: Sonam Dorji, Dorji Wangchuk, Bijoy Kumar Rai and Kezang Sherab. Picture by Terry Clinton

The four fellows from the Royal University of Bhutan's Paro College of Education, from the left: Sonam Dorji, Dorji Wangchuk, Bijoy Kumar Rai and Kezang Sherab. Picture by Terry Clinton

In summary: 
  • Academics from the UTS School of Education are working with colleagues from the Royal University of Bhutan to improve learning outcomes for young people across the small Himalayan kingdom
  • The work has been supported by an Australia Awards Fellowship awarded to UTS by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

For a country that has adopted "gross national happiness" as a measure of success over economic growth, education is a vital component for achieving Bhutan's goals for social development.

Now Australia is providing some "free trade" in educational support and development to the small Himalayan kingdom under an Australia Awards Fellowship awarded to the University of Technology Sydney by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Academics from the UTS School of Education are working with colleagues from the Royal University of Bhutan, responding to the need to improve learning outcomes for young people across the country.

"Under Bhutan's unique Gross National Happiness framework the highest priority is given to the education sector in the national building process," said fellowship leader Dr Nick Hopwood.

"This project focuses on developing human resource capacity and strengthening tertiary institutions, responding to the Bhutan Blueprint for Education 2014-2024 priorities of access, quality and equity in education.

"Improved teacher professional development is crucial to enhance students' literacy outcomes, teachers' English language proficiency and use of technology, teaching for children with disabilities and special education needs, girls' access to school and learning outcomes, and female participation in school leadership.

"There is also a clear need to increase capacity to undertake research in schools that develops viable solutions to local problems relating to these and other challenges."

The fellows in a workshop with UTS School of Education staff member Dr Kimberley Pressick-Kilborn. Picture by Terry Clinton The fellows in a workshop with UTS School of Education staff member Dr Kimberley Pressick-Kilborn. Picture by Terry Clinton

Four fellows from the Royal University of Bhutan's Paro College of Education recently visited Sydney for a two-week program of training workshops provided by the UTS School of Education on topics relating to English as an additional language, inclusive education and special educational needs, integrating technology in classroom practice and educational research.

The fellows also spent a day at Cecil Hills High School and St Johns Park Public School in Sydney's west to learn how teachers are working effectively with diverse student populations and about work being done to promote student wellbeing. The group also had the chance to meet academics from a range of tertiary institutions around Sydney.

Four academics from the UTS School of Education will subsequently spend a week in Bhutan, working with the fellows and their colleagues on implementation of curriculum developments and research capacity building.

The fellowship has been supported by the university's consulting provider access:UTS.

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Education