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Presenter: Ramya Vivekanandan
Position: Programme Specialist
Organization: UNESCO Bangkok
In view of the challenges students face in today’s competitive, stress-fueled, and test-focused world, the theme of happiness has come to the forefront of the global policy agenda, having been recently recognized in the United Nations General Assembly 2011 Resolution as a ‘fundamental human goal’ and in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as related to the quality of education and well-being. The importance of happiness in schools has also attracted global attention as global indices such as the Better Life Index and international assessments including PISA aim to measure the linkages between learner happiness and the quality of education.
As such, UNESCO Bangkok launched the Happy Schools Project to find out what makes for a happy school based on the voices of students, teachers, parents and others at the heart of the school community. Research was conducted from June 2014 to November 2015 with the aim of understanding what factors describe a happy school and to identify qualitative variables on school happiness that could potentially be measured. The research methods included a desk study, a workshop with schools from ASEAN member countries, a survey, and a seminar.
The main outcome of the study is the Happy Schools Framework, which consists of 22 criteria for a happy school, grouped into three broad categories of People, Process and Place, as well as strategies for achieving these criteria in schools. The Happy Schools Framework calls for education systems to shift away from traditional measures and to instead embrace diversity of talents and intelligence by recognizing values, strengths and competencies that contribute to enhancing happiness. Informed greatly by positive psychology, this new UNESCO Framework will be shared during this presentation.