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Happiness Curriculum

Happiness Curriculum

Afghanistan announced that it would adopt the Happiness Curriculum devised by the Delhi government with a focus on holistic education – to bring peace to the mind of children. The Andhra Pradesh government plans to adopt the happiness curriculum in June and Tamil Nadu, Telegana, Jharkhand and Ladakh have visited Delhi schools with an intention to adopt it too.

Happiness curriculum has emerged as one of the flagship programmes undertaken by the Delhi government. Happiness curriculum focuses on holistic education by including meditation, value education, and mental exercises in the conventional education. The curriculum is meant for students from nursery to class eight. Every day, happiness class is held for nursery to class 8 students.

The Kejriwal government launched it in few schools in July 2018 on experiment basis but now made it mandatory from the new academic session that began this month in over 1045 schools being run by the Delhi government. The dropout rate of students from Delhi government schools has begun decreasing in the last few months, claimed Dr Rajesh Kumar, Chairperson, Happiness Curriculum committee. “The change is visible," claimed Dr Kumar stating that the HRD ministry, NCERT and other educational institutions have appreciated the outcome of curriculum. Several instances of bonding between mother and a son or daughter or brother and sister or other people at home, have been reported in the last few months, claimed one of the teachers of a government school.

The curriculum is part of the educational reforms undertaken by the Delhi government and SCERT, to prepare students for "physical and mental health well-being, solving problems caused due to negative and destructive emotions like anger, hatred and jealousy". “From nursery to class eight, we would try to develop abilities in students to face emotional stress, find solutions, decision making, trust and time management", said Dr Kumar. The curriculum comprises of meditation, value addition and preparation to deal with crisis of health and emotion. Based on different stories, the mindfulness curriculum which is part of happiness curriculum is under trial. It was prepared on the basis of successful curriculum of schools in Raipur, Indore and Buldana in Maharashtra.

It is one of the most important educational reforms undertaken by the AAP run government in Delhi. The curriculum prepares students to “live life and deal with conditions" arising due to societal evils.   Delhi's Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia has described the curriculum and said, “Children enter the education system in kinde rgarten at around two and a half years of age and continue to spend nearly twenty years within the education system until they graduate. During this time, we are successful in making them good engineers, doctors, scientists, managers or other professionals, but do not ensure that they become honest and responsible human beings."

"It is true that even after educating millions of young people every yea r, we are not able to provide an assurance that an educated person can live a life rising above the evils of violence, animosit y, greed, malice," said Sisodia in a document prepared by SCERT ( State Council of Educational Research and Training and Directorate of Education) in January 2019.

The Happiness Curriculum is a crucial first step which guides students towards exploring, experiencing and expressing happiness in not just the momentary but deeper and sustainable forms as well. It enables the learner to comprehend happiness within self, relationships, society and nature. Under the revised guidelines issued by the Education department of Delhi government late last month, happiness class to be held in the 1st half of the day for which school has to prepare time table for all sections of the class. Classes are held from Monday to Saturday with each day having different activity. Happiness coordinators have to engage with happiness teachers.  Three teachers’ handbooks of Happiness Curriculum are to be followed. To make the happiness class more interesting, Happiness curriculum committee has revised the curriculum. Each class has its own syllabus. For instance, the happiness curriculum designed for Nursery & K.G. consists of only mindfulness activities. This is done keeping in mind their developmental age as these students are active, have limited attention span and learn through sensory exploration. The mindfulness activity will be completed in one month. From July onwards, it will be implemented in all the government schools under the government of NCT Delhi. The focus is on meditation and activities. Under the new curriculum, there will be 160 stories for all the classes. Dr Kumar said that the curriculum has given results more than expectations adding that curriculum from class IX to XII will also be developed with a focus on mindfulness. Interestingly, the curriculum has cost nothing to the Kejriwal government.

Shagun, mother of Hiba, government school in Begampur is a proud parent after her daughter benefitted from happiness class. “I used to feel embarrassed in telling friends and relatives that my daughter studies in a government school. Now my daughter has become so positive towards life and has started doing well. I take pride in telling them that my daughter studies in a government school,” said Shagun.

Ambrish Rai, National convenor of Right to Education forum, said that even to run happiness curriculum, the government needs to take steps to fill 20,000 vacancies of teachers and ensure institutional mechanism for subject teachers for improvement in overall performance of government schools.

(Published on 15th April 2019, Volume XXXI, Issue 16)