In 2013, Lhomon Education began implementing a secular monastic curriculum at the Chokyi Gyatsho Institute (CGI) in Dewthang, East Bhutan. A set of twenty-four comprehensive secular educational units, based on the LME Framework, will be developed over the course of four years. CGI has designated 20 monks (ages 11-16) to test out a holistic secular curriculum including math, language, science and other key subjects, in tandem with their existing studies of classical philosophy and ritual. Rinpoche said that a secular curriculum based on GNH values is in full harmony with the core principles of Buddhist education traditionally taught in monastic colleges.
LME selected a fresh graduate of Paro College of Education to live at the shedra and teach the monks. Dawa will be supported by top educators and topic specialists from Bhutan and around the world, who will come to mentor for periods of 2-12 weeks. All the units and lesson plans will be made available free of charge online as a resource for other monasteries. Eventually, the CGI classroom will be made available to the Dewathang Nonformal Education Program (NFE) for the instruction of local villagers.
What will they learn?
In addition to their rigorous monastic education, the monks will now also learn the following skills through the 12 thematic units:
Ecological Literacy: Students will have an understanding of ecosystems and how the environment can sustain human activity within natural resource limits and without compromising ecological integrity.
Interconnectedness: Students will see themselves as interdependent with each other, all living things, and natural systems. They will have a deep understanding of the law of cause, condition, and effect and will put their knowledge and understanding to use in service of their lives, their communities and the world.
Multiple Perspectives: Students will truly value and learn from the experiences of others around them—across generations, cultures, and other divides.
Place: Students will understand the profound and complex way that the geography and ecology of a place interact with the society and culture of the people who live there.
Competency: Students will have basic life skills to be able to function effectively in society.
Sustainable Economics: Students will understand the true costs of human behaviour and economic activity, and how to measure well-being and progress genuinely, accurately, and holistically.
Responsible Citizenship: Students will understand their rights and responsibilities and the impact of their actions as citizens, and assume participatory roles in society. As active members of society, they will work with others to provide effective solutions and ongoing service to their communities.
Creativity and Visioning: Students will creatively apply knowledge and skills to foster sustainable, “truly Bhutanese” solutions to current and future challenges. They will have the confidence, insight, and ability to see through, resist, and seek alternatives to consumer-driven cultural tsunamis.
Cultural Preservation: Students will have a deep appreciation for their rich cultural heritage and wisdom tradition and discern what cultural practices are worthy of preservation and what must change in order for future generations to thrive.