New Delhi, India: The Delhi Government launched the ‘Happiness Curriculum’ in July this year. This initiative aims at increasing mental health awareness among school children from classes nursery to eighth in all government schools. Dalai Lama who inaugurated the event said, “Only India can combine modern education with ancient knowledge, which is necessary for the fulfillment of human emotions.” The curriculum which focuses on mindful behavior will be covered in classes every day.
The introduction of the ‘Happiness Curriculum’ by the Delhi government is a milestone decision for the overall development and welfare of children. After the summer break, Delhi’s children returned to school in July and found a new class added to their schedules: happiness class.
Sisodia’s happiness classes represent a radical experiment in a country known for its rigid, bookish education system, which has helped cement a new middle class over the past three decades but is also criticised for encouraging rote learning and triggering high stress levels. Many blame it for a rash of student suicides.
Under the programme, 100,000 Delhi students spend the first half-hour of each school day without opening a textbook, learning instead through inspirational stories and activities, as well as meditation exercises. Sisodia’s initiative comes after nearly three decades of rapid industrialization in India. To meet the demand for skilled labour in the country’s profitable new industries, successive governments churned out high school and university graduates — but allowed standards to fall. Some states made exams easier and marked them leniently so students could boast of high grades to universities.
“The curriculum is definitely bringing about a change in the current situation of government schools. Students get to interact and express themselves,” says Naraina, a Sanskrit teacher from S.K.V. “The introduction of meditation and thoughtfulness has increased the concentration levels of students and they take more interest in the classes. These classes have created a shared space of referentiality among the students and teachers. So, now teachers can impart knowledge and values by using familiar examples.