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Saturday, Sep 21, 2019

Need to inculcate happiness curriculum in India schools

Going by the 2017 World Happiness Report, India stands at an abysmally low at 122 out of 155 countries evaluated. The report calls for attention.

education Updated: Feb 28, 2018 20:40 IST
Rajeev Katyal
Rajeev Katyal
Going by the 2017 World Happiness Report, India stands at an abysmally low at 122 out of 155 countries evaluated. The report calls for attention
Going by the 2017 World Happiness Report, India stands at an abysmally low at 122 out of 155 countries evaluated. The report calls for attention(Getty Images)

In a developing country like India, there ought to be an increasing amount of competition as the knowledge horizons widen for people and opportunities remain limited.

Going by the 2017 World Happiness Report, India stands at an abysmally low at 122 out of 155 countries evaluated. The report calls for attention as one of the fastest growing economies in the world is slowly turning out to be a sad place to live in. The need to, therefore, have a ‘Happiness Curriculum’ in Indian Schools arises so as to create a happy environment from early childhood.

A visible action in this direction is recent announcement by the Delhi government on the launch of ‘Happiness Curriculum’ in government schools for Nursery to Class VIII students from the coming academic session. The Delhi government has formed a team of experts, including school teachers and principals, to prepare a framework for the happiness curriculum. This curriculum is expected to be purely activity based and no formal examinations would be conducted. However, every child will have a periodical assessment to see the child’s progress using the happiness index.

The motive behind the launch of Happiness Curriculum is to educate people that the purpose of education is not just to push students continuously to get good marks but it is also to create an environment where a student is happy, confident and self-aware. Hence, the need of the hour is to implement ‘Happiness Curriculum’ in schools.

The ‘Happiness Index’ in schools would involve many distinct yet interrelated factors.

First being, physical environment, where students are offered a warm, secure and comfortable setting. This includes bright colours; open spaces, green lawns, and well-lit classrooms which are conducive to individual instruction as well as group work.

Second being curriculum, carefully constructed syllabus which offers enrichment opportunities, self-learning, peer-learning and group learning for students.

Third, and most important, is the faculty who are a medium through which they nurture happiness in students. Teachers understanding and patience provides comfort for a child. Fourth is an environment which provides a mix of scholastic and co-scholastic activities which helps the child enjoy multiple aspects of coming to school.

And lastly, treating the child as an individual with a distinct personality and nurturing their talents. The schools need to nurture that dimension of a child so that the child enjoys every part of schooling.

Growing economy and per capita income isn’t the only factor that leads to happiness. According to the report, even countries with an ageing population and declining economic growth are ranked much higher than India.

Demonstrated by the rankings of many countries, the report shows evidence that happiness is a result of creating strong social foundations and in most countries, the biggest single cause of misery is ‘mental illness’.

One needs to evaluate the current scenario on how the millennials are growing up to become the most stressed-out generation. It poses a threat to the next band of school and college-going generation. If we talk about the current scenario, we notice a rise in the number of crime amongst school children (300% according to National Commission for Protection of Child Rights).

Headlines like a student allegedly killing his junior to get his exams postponed or a group of boys beating up a classmate to death over a minor issue are just one of the few incidents that have shocked our nation. According to a data released by NCRB in 2015, every hour, one student commits suicide in India.

Students in the 21st century face a lot of issues on a daily basis, be it exam pressure, peer pressure, depression, or psychological factors. They need an environment which keeps them happy. Schools should help inculcate an environment where students not only learn academically, but focus on their all-round development.

The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has thought of various methods to curb the situation, like installing CCTV cameras on premises and launching awareness drives about safety and security to control violence in schools. But the implementation and control of the entire process are expected to take time. Now, the task at hand is to take some concrete steps to control the situation before it’s too late.

Education plays an important role in creating a strong social foundation for the future generations and can help in curbing the situation. Happiness can act as a catalyst for building social trust and healthy living among students gained from knowledge-based learning programmes.

(Katyal is the deputy chief operating officer at Global School Foundation and country director India and Japan. Views expressed here are personal.)

First Published: Feb 28, 2018 20:39 IST