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Transitioning the Bhutan Baccalaureate: A Report on the Transition Roadmap – February to July 2023

The Teacher Development Centre and the Education Research Centre of Druk Gyalpo’s Institute are leading the transition of the Bhutan Baccalaureate Learning Process. The transition process includes helping school leaders and teachers imbibe the Philosophical Underpinnings of the Bhutan Baccalaureate and the contextualisation and implementation of the Bhutan Baccalaureate Learning Process. In each school, this process begins with the collection of the backstory of the school as well as the backstory of individual faculty members. Using the backstories, the faculties are taken through a process of internalising the Five Areas of Development: Cerebral, Emotional, Physical, Social, and Spiritual as adult individuals before slowly transitioning into their role as teachers. The backstories of the students, alumni, and community are used to contextualise and implement the Learning Process in the school.

The Transition Roadmap is designed by Druk Gyalpo’s Institute in collaboration with the Department of School Education, MoESD, the Principals of 22 schools and the Dzongkhag/Thromde Education Officers. The Roadmap includes a set of 18 indicators of success to ensure that the plans in the Roadmap are successfully implemented. This report provides an update on the progress made in each of the indicators of success from February to July 2023. The report will be used to review and update the plans in the Transition Roadmap from August to December 2023.

Nature Retreat

At The Royal Academy, learners, both students and adults, participate in 2 Nature Retreats every year. Each Nature Retreat is an important learning experience that spans a period of 5 nights and 6 days each. The idea behind these retreats is manifold. The Nature Retreat helps learners appreciate the magnificence of the world we live in. It teaches them vital aspects which cannot be done within a classroom and helps them develop survival and social skills. The education system seldom gives students the opportunity to connect to their roots or nature. The Nature Retreat re-establishes this connection and learners are able to see and experience for themselves their interconnectedness with nature and learn how humans have an integral part to play in preserving and protecting nature.

The Nature Retreat also plays a significant role in facilitating positive interactions between learners and their peers and helping build stronger relationships not only among peers but also between Mentors and their mentees. The emotional and social interaction that occurs during the nature retreat is essential to help the mentor understand their mentees better and help them through their learning journey.

As a part of the engagement programme among the 23 Bhutan Baccalaureate schools, a Nature Retreat organised from 11-16 May 2023. A total of 362 teachers and students participated in the Nature Retreat. This included 318 participants (students and teachers) from The Royal Academy and 44 students from the 22 Bhutan Baccalaureate schools (2 students from each of the 22 schools). The Nature Retreat aimed to provide a unique learning experience for learners and foster strong bonds between the participants.

The Nature Retreat was organised in the 27 existing mentor-mentee groups from The Royal Academy. The 44 students from the remaining Bhutan Baccalaureate schools were then distributed among these 27 mentor-mentee groups. The allocation process ensured that students from each of the 22 schools were distributed into separate groups, ensuring diversity and a mix of students from different schools in each group.

Each mentor-mentee group embarked on their journey to different location for the Nature Retreat, spanning across 10 different Dzongkhags in Bhutan: Paro, Thimphu, Haa, Punakha, Wangdue Phodrang, Trongsa, Dagana, Tsirang, Chhukha, and Gasa.

The overall report for the Nature Retreat can be found here.

Dzongkha Debate Competition among the 23 Bhutan Baccalaureate Schools

A Dzongkha Debate Competition was held among the 23 Bhutan Baccalaureate Schools. The competition was divided into two developmental stages: a Primary School Dzongkha Debate for students in Developmental Stage III (grades 4 to 6) and a Middle Secondary Dzongkha Debate for students in Stage V (grades 9 to 10).

This report presents the details of the Primary School Dzongkha Debate and the Middle Secondary School Dzongkha Debate, as well as an analysis of each programme. The analysis of the programmes was developed using the insightful reflections submitted by the participating students.

Overview of The Primary School Dzongkha Debate

The Primary School Dzongkha Debate was organised by the Dzongkha Domain Heads and teachers of Zangkhar Primary School and Tshaphel Lower Secondary School. The debate aimed at promoting the use of Dzongkha and facilitating the exchange of knowledge and ideas among the Bhutan Baccalaureate Schools. A total of 14 schools participated in the programme. Each school was represented by 2 students from grades 4-6. Due to geographical and physical constraints, the Primary School Dzongkha Debate was conducted virtually via Zoom.

The Primary School Dzongkha Debate consisted of two rounds: a preliminary round and a final round. In the preliminary round, the 14 participating schools were randomly divided into two groups: for the motion and against the motion. The topic of the debate for the preliminary round was “Education is more important than wealth”. Group 1 supported the motion, while Group 2 opposed it. While the schools participated in groups, they were assessed based on their individual performance. The preliminary round was conducted on Monday, 3rd April, 2023.

6 schools with the highest scores from the preliminary round were then selected to go through to the final round of the Primary School Dzongkha Debate. As with the preliminary round, the 6 schools were randomly divided into two groups: Group 1 supported the motion, while Group 2 opposed it. The topic of the debate for the final round was ‘Schools can benefit from allowing students to use mobile phones as it can contribute to the development of their Cerebral Area’. Here too, the schools were assessed based on their individual performance. The final round of the Primary School Debate was conducted on Monday, 10th April 2023.

Overview of The Middle Secondary School Dzongkha Debate

The Middle Secondary School Dzongkha Debate was organised by the Dzongkha Domain Heads and teachers of Jakar HSS and Phuntshothang MSS and conducted on 8th April 2023. The debate aimed at promoting the use of Dzongkha and facilitating the exchange of knowledge and ideas among the Bhutan Baccalaureate Schools. A total of 19 schools participated in the programme. Each school was represented by 1 student from grade 9 or 10. Due to geographical and physical constraints, the Primary School Dzongkha Debate was conducted virtually via Zoom.

Given the large number of participants, the Middle Secondary School Dzongkha Debate was facilitated through two simultaneous debates. The participating schools were divided into 2 different groups within which the debate was held. The topic of the debate for both groups was “Is it necessary to go abroad to sustain our livelihood?”. Within each group, schools were further divided into 2 subgroups where Group 1 supported the motion, while Group 2 opposed it. Although the panel of judges for the two groups was different, both groups were assessed based on the same assessment criteria. Similarly, while the schools participated in groups, they were assessed based on their individual performance.

Bhutan Baccalaureate: The Learning Journey in 23 schools.

The Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Education & Skills Development and Druk Gyalpo’s Institute was signed in 2021 to transition the Bhutan Baccalaureate to 22 schools. The Learning Process of the Bhutan Baccalaureate has been implemented in the classrooms of 23 Bhutan Baccalaureate schools, and opportunities have been created to enhance the engagement among the students and teachers of the 23 schools. The Learning Showcase is an annual event that serves as a platform to share and exchange learning and practices that schools have developed during their journey in transitioning to the Bhutan Baccalaureate Learning Process.

The schools had the option to showcase their learning through videos and live presentations showcasing the contextualisation and implementation of the Bhutan Baccalaureate Learning Process in their school. With the Bhutan Baccalaureate Learning Process entering the lives of students from February 2023, the showcase this year included student and parent voices as well as the experiences of the members of the communities around the school. Students and teachers from the 23 Bhutan Baccalaureate watched the showcase virtually on the 9th and 10th of June. The sharing of the learning journey by students was the session that all the schools looked forward to.

This report highlights the learning journey of the 23 Bhutan Baccalaureate schools in contextualising the Bhutan Baccalaureate Learning Process. While all 23 schools are implementing the Learning Process, this showcase allowed each school to present areas of the Learning Process that represents the strengths of an individual school. Hence, the variety of showcases ranging from examples of learning experiences created for learners in the Five Areas of Development, use of technology, the impact of mentorship, the introduction of Aesthetics, focus on STEM and engagement with the community were some of the recurring themes from the showcase. The report provides a synopsis of the learning journey of each school and a summary of the panel discussion on the learning journey of students. To get a detailed account of the learning journey of a school, the video recording of the learning journey of each school is accessible as a hyperlink.

Spiritual Development Exchange Programmes

The Bhutan Baccalaureate sees education as a wholistic process that extends far beyond the mere acquisition of knowledge. The framework for the wholistic development of learners is based on the Five Areas of Development: Cerebral, Emotional, Physical, Social, and Spiritual.

The Spiritual Area of Development relates to basic questions about the meaning and purpose of life that impacts everyone. It does not depend on an individual’s religious beliefs or affiliations alone but on the universal quest for individual and community identities and responses to challenging experiences. A learner’s growth and development in the spiritual area is about the search for answers to existential questions and the value of being able to live with purpose and meaning.

The underpinnings of spiritual development in the Bhutan Baccalaureate lie in the notion of being a good human being. Spiritual development, therefore, desires each learner to actualise one’s innate potential to become the best version of oneself. Built on the understanding of the interconnectedness (tendrel) of all natural phenomena, spiritual development helps learners discover their innate goodness to contribute to the creation of a just and harmonious society. The creation of a harmonious society starts with a deep understanding of oneself and one’s relation to the world. To do this, learners inculcate the watermarks of spirituality, such as grit (ngar -ངར), empathy, compassion, and altruism, and develop a sense of others.

The Spiritual Area of Development comprises four components: self-awareness and identity, meaning and purpose of life, inner goodness, and beyond self and others. These components allow learners to recognise their inner callings toward becoming good human beings.

Keeping in mind the significance of the Spiritual Area of Development for a learner’s wholistic growth, the Spiritual Coordinators of 23 Bhutan Baccalaureate schools organised a range of Spiritual Development Exchange Programmes Each school partnered with another school to carry out one of a total of twelve programmes, which were scheduled between March 27th and March 31st. While each exchange programme had its own objectives and indicators of success, all aimed to bring forth an enrichment of their school’s understanding of the Spiritual Area of Development.

To read more about the Spiritual Development exchange programme between the 23 Bhutan Baccalaureate schools, the report can be found using this link.

2023 Learning Frameworks of the 23 BB schools

The Learning Framework is the overarching framework that governs everything that takes place at a particular learning place or school. The Learning Framework of a school and the Bhutan Baccalaureate Learning Process are inextricably linked in terms of design and context. The development of a learning framework is determined by the learning process. The Learning Process focuses on the development of the learners’ Skills, Processes, and Watermark. The Learning Framework is constantly changing in response to the needs of individuals, the school, and the community. Therefore, the learning framework is dynamic and contextualised to the individual school which changes every year. The Five Areas of Development are given equal weight in the Learning Framework. In the Learning Framework, nature, aesthetic and technology are considered critical components in the learning process through concepts and domain-specific information.

The Learning Framework is developed based on the psychological, cognitive and social background. Therefore, learners learn best when their prior knowledge, preconceptions and background are recognized and engaged in the learning experiences when the learner has time to build a learning roadmap upon foundational knowledge through an active, experiential and contextual varied learning environment, and when the learners take control of their own learning through metacognitive reflection. The Learning Framework provides a variety of approaches to help learners in the development of new knowledge that is precisely and meaningfully organised to apply in new contexts.

The Royal Academy

Bjishong HSS

Damphu CS

Dechencholing HSS

Drukgyel HSS

Drukjegang HSS

Gelephu MSS

Jakar HSS

Kabesa CS

Kengkhar MSS

Khaling LSS

Kuzugchen MSS

Nganglam CS

Phuntshothang MSS

Samtengang CS

Samtse HSS

Tsenkharla CS

Tshangkha CS

Tshaphel LSS

Wangbama CS

Wangchu MSS

Zangkhar PS

Zhemgang PS

Programmes on Physical Area of Development across the 23 schools

The Bhutan Baccalaureate sees education as a wholistic process that extends far beyond the mere acquisition of knowledge. The Bhutan Baccalaureate provides a framework for the wholistic development of learners based on the Five Areas of Development: Cerebral, Emotional, Physical, Social, and Spiritual.

Physical Development is focused on motor development and physical health and well-being of the learners. These aspects of physical development are essential for learners’ to lead active, healthy lifestyles and ensure overall success in other Areas of Development.

Given this significance of the Physical Area of Development, each school planned, organised, and facilitated a programme focused on the Physical Area of Development in their respective schools in the month of February as a part of engagements among the 23 Bhutan Baccalaureate schools.

The programmes organised by the 23 schools with a focus on Physical Development are diverse and aim to promote the overall wellbeing of students and faculty members. While some schools organised one-off activities like sporting competitions, mass cleaning programmes, and health talks, others focused on year-long programmes such as the initiation of morning physical exercise in the school. Overall, most schools targeted their programmes to the students, while a few included programmes for faculty members as well.

The report on the programmes on the Physical Area of Development can be found here.

Conversation on the Emotional Area of Development

Engagements among the 23 Bhutan Baccalaureate Schools – Conversation on the Emotional Area of Development, organized by students of Drukjegang HSS and The Royal Academy.

In 2023, the implementation of the contextualised Bhutan Baccalaureate Learning Process in the 23 schools will present unique challenges and opportunities for each school. Therefore, it is vital to create platforms for each school to showcase its strengths and receive support in overcoming the challenges. The experiences and anecdotes of the schools during the implementation of the Learning Process must be documented and shared within and beyond the 23 schools. Through engagement programs such as competitions, exhibitions, and showcase opportunities, students, teachers, and schools will learn from one another in the Five Areas of Development. Collaborating in such programs will provide an avenue for teachers to share experiences, identify areas of improvement, and stay updated with new education trends. Additionally, the sharing of resources and exposure to diverse perspectives will enrich the overall learning experiences for students, teachers and schools.

In this regard, several engagement programmes have been planned for and by the 23 schools in order to increase the active engagement of students and teachers in their learning journey. These engagement programmes will allow them to develop Skills, Processes and Watermarks beyond the physical space of their own schools.

The purpose of the Conversation on Emotional Development is to enrich the understanding of Emotional Development among the students and teachers of the 23 schools. The engagement aims to share effective methods and approaches to help learners recognise their emotions and develop self-regulation skills. It also aims to provide insights into practical tools that learners can use to promote their emotional well-being and growth. By enhancing the understanding of Emotional Development participants can set themselves up for success and actualise their innate potential. Ultimately, the conversation should help learners move a step closer to becoming Persons of Substance who will make positive contributors to their community and country.

The report on the conversation on Emotional Development can be found here

The video recording of the conversation can be found here

Bhutan Baccalaureate: The Learning Journey of the 23 Schools.

Bhutan Baccalaureate: The Learning Journey of the 23 schools. ‘A webinar hosted by the Druk Gyalpo’s Institute.

The Bhutan Baccalaureate Learning Process was implemented in The Royal Academy in 2016 and continues to evolve based on the experiences and the needs of its learners. Currently, the Druk Gyalpo’s Institute is working toward transitioning the Bhutan Baccalaureate Learning Process and its contextualization into 22 schools across Bhutan in collaboration with the Ministry of Education. Our engagement with the 22 schools is an effort in reciprocal learning. While we transition schools and assist them to internalise and understand the Bhutan Baccalaureate Learning Process, we are equally focused on assessing and enriching our own learning process.

In line with this effort for reciprocal learning, on 15th July 2022, the Druk Gyalpo’s Institute hosted a webinar on “Bhutan Baccalaureate: The Learning Journey in the 23 Schools”. The webinar was developed to provide a platform for the 23 schools to share and exchange learnings and unique practices that schools have developed, during their journey in transitioning to the Bhutan Baccalaureate Learning Process, since March 2021.

The report on the webinar can be found by clicking here