Thursday, March 8, 2012

Our Story & How You Can Support Us

Our Partner, The Bhutan Foundation, is now accepting contributions on behalf of Lho Mon Society and its two projects, Lho Mon Education and the Samdrup Jongkhar Initiative. If you would like to support the LME Curriculum Design Workshop (July 1-14, 2012), please follow this link, and be sure to specify in the notes that it is for LME. The Bhutan Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization registered in the US, therefore all US contributions will be fully tax-deductible. 

We still need to raise another $10K in order to host the event, which will be serving all 6 of our partner organizations.

So, how did we get here? In December 2009, the Honourable Prime Minister of Bhutan, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, launched an initiative to bring the principles, values, and practices of Gross National Happiness into the country’s educational system. Educational experts from 16 countries held a week-long workshop with top Bhutanese educators to discuss how principles of holistic, sustainability, and contemplative education as well as indigenous knowledge and ancient wisdom traditions could be integrated into regular curricula.

Shortly thereafter, Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche offered his monastery, Chokyi Gyatso Institute, as an experimental “laboratory” for developing GNH-based educational curricula as part of his newly-formed Samdrup Jonkghar Initiative (SJI). While supporting innovation in education reform, Rinpoche also wanted to help his monastery keep in step with a fast changing society. CGI is poised to become the first monastery in Bhutan to introduce a full secular curriculum in math, language, science and other key subjects, that will be taught in tandem with its existing curriculum of classical philosophy and ritual.

Designing this curriculum has taken more than a year and in the process Lho Mon Education branched off of SJI's activities so that it could address education needs outside of the Samdrup Jongkhar region. The curriculum design will get its final push in July at our CDW workshop in Paro. We decided to share the wealth of our resource people and invite other organizations to participate in this process. Now, based on LME's initial framework, five respected Bhudantese educational institutions have joined in setting up their own pilot projects. We hope that the new GNH-based curriculum being implemented at CGI and the other five environments will be relevant and useful to schools throughout Bhutan.

Through the Lho Mon Education Initiative, new strides are being taken in transcending conventional secular-sacred boundaries, integrating spiritual values into daily life, and demonstrating the relevance of Bhutan’s ancient wisdom traditions to the modern world. In these ways, the new curricula developed through Lho Mon Education have important implications for education throughout Bhutan, and can make a significant contribution in integrating secular and spiritual endeavours.

While Lho Mon remains a grassroots civil society initiative, it now has the support of Bhutan’s Prime Minister, the Secretary of the GNH Commission, the Minister and Secretary of Agriculture, the Samdrup Jongkhar governor, the Samdrup Jongkhar District Education and Agriculture Officers and Agriculture Extension Officers, the Ministry of Education, and local village leaders. 

The visionary behind LME is Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, a Bhutanese meditation master from a great line of masters and yogis, a teacher of Buddhist philosophy, and one of the most progressive lamas teaching today. He has taught at institutions around the world including Yale University and Oxford University and oversees numerous religious and secular nonprofit organizations. 

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