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Happy Schools: A Framework for Learner
Well-being in the Asia-Pacific
Ramya Vivekanandan
UNESCO Bangkok
Concurrent Session...
The Happy Schools Project
Launched in June 2014 to promote
happiness in schools in the Asia-Pacific
through:
• Documenting...
Happiness and the United Nations
• 2011: UN General Assembly Resolution recognizes happiness as a
‘fundamental human right...
SDG 4: Quality Education
• Incheon Declaration – World Education Forum, May 2015
• UNESCO to lead and coordinate SDG 4 - E...
1972
UNESCO Initiatives
UN Charter
& UNESCO
Constitution
Learning
to Be
Education for
International
Understanding
Learning...
Global Initiatives
• Global happiness indices as
alternative measures of development.
• Measurement of happiness and well-...
Why Happy Schools?
• Schooling experience as one of the most
shaping experiences in life.
• Global Movement for prioritizi...
Research Design and Methodology
• Conceptual Framework: combines
Learning to Be, Learning to Live Together
and Positive Ps...
Theories of Happiness
• Desk study explored various philosophies,
policies, and initiatives.
• Three important linkages fo...
Happiness in Policy
Countries are increasingly reflecting happiness and well-being in national policy frameworks:
• Bhutan...
Happy Schools Survey: Responses
Languages
Over 650 responses received from almost 30 countries in the Asia-Pacific region:
Happy Schools Survey: Results
Top 5 Factors for a happy
school:
Top 5 Factors for a unhappy
school:
Happy Schools
Framework
• Main outcome of the
report.
• 22 criteria identified.
• Three overarching
themes: People, Proces...
People
• Friendships and Relationships in the School
Community
• Positive Teacher Attitudes and Attributes
• Respect for D...
Process
• Reasonable and Fair Workload
• Teamwork and Collaborative Spirit
• Fun and Engaging Teaching and Learning Approa...
Place
• Warm and Friendly Learning Environment
• Secure Environment Free from Bullying
• Open and Green Learning and Playi...
Reflections
• Happiness and school quality are
inseparable.
• Over-focusing on ‘the numbers’
undermines learner well-being...
Next Steps
• Policy dialogue and sharing of promising and
innovative practices among countries (2016
UNESCO-KEDI Regional ...
Thank you!
• For more information please visit:
www.unescobkk.org/happyschools
• Full report:
http://bit.ly/happyschoolsre...
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Happy Schools: A UNESCO Framework for Learner Well-Being in the Asia-Pacific

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Presenter: Ramya Vivekanandan
Position: Programme Specialist
Organization: UNESCO Bangkok
Country: Thailand

Abstract:
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.

Published in: Education
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Happy Schools: A UNESCO Framework for Learner Well-Being in the Asia-Pacific

  1. 1. Happy Schools: A Framework for Learner Well-being in the Asia-Pacific Ramya Vivekanandan UNESCO Bangkok Concurrent Session 3B (‘Happy Schools: Policies and Practices in the Asia-Pacific Region’) 18th UNESCO-APEID Conference 26-28 October 2016, Bangkok
  2. 2. The Happy Schools Project Launched in June 2014 to promote happiness in schools in the Asia-Pacific through: • Documenting perspectives from school stakeholders. • Identifying and sharing promising and innovative practices. • Establishing a Happy Schools Framework.
  3. 3. Happiness and the United Nations • 2011: UN General Assembly Resolution recognizes happiness as a ‘fundamental human right’. • 2012: UNGA Resolution declares the International Day of Happiness (20 March). • 2015: New agenda for sustainable development – well-being reflected throughout. “Happiness for the entire human family is one of the main goals of the United Nations” – Secretary General Ban Ki Moon
  4. 4. SDG 4: Quality Education • Incheon Declaration – World Education Forum, May 2015 • UNESCO to lead and coordinate SDG 4 - Education 2030 agenda with partners. • Target 4.7 refers to competencies also recognized as character strengths: knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development
  5. 5. 1972 UNESCO Initiatives UN Charter & UNESCO Constitution Learning to Be Education for International Understanding Learning to Live Together Education for Sustainable Development Global Citizenship Education 1945 1972 1974 1996 2002 2012
  6. 6. Global Initiatives • Global happiness indices as alternative measures of development. • Measurement of happiness and well- being as part of learning • Happy Schools Framework as a reference for measuring Target 4.7 (SDG4)
  7. 7. Why Happy Schools? • Schooling experience as one of the most shaping experiences in life. • Global Movement for prioritizing and measuring happiness and well-being. • Learner happiness undermined by: External Factors Internal Factors Increased income inequality Poor learning environments Growing intolerance and violence Insensitivity of educators Rapid technological advancement Obsolete and irrelevant curricula Environmental degradation Over-focus on academic content and test scores
  8. 8. Research Design and Methodology • Conceptual Framework: combines Learning to Be, Learning to Live Together and Positive Psychology. • Research Methods: • Desk Study (June 2014 – November 2015) • ASEAN Schools Workshop (November 2014) • Happy Schools Survey (January – May 2015) • Happy Schools Seminar (June 2015)
  9. 9. Theories of Happiness • Desk study explored various philosophies, policies, and initiatives. • Three important linkages found: 1. Happiness is something collective that is obtained through friendships and relationships. 2. Education is essentially holistic and multidimensional. 3. Education can lead to happiness, but can also be a source of happiness in and of itself. We can learn to be happy, but we can also be happy to learn
  10. 10. Happiness in Policy Countries are increasingly reflecting happiness and well-being in national policy frameworks: • Bhutan: Policy of Educating for Gross National Happiness (GNH). • Japan: Cabinet Commission on Measuring Well-being established in 2010; conducted its first Quality of Life Survey in 2012. • Republic of Korea: Policy of ‘Happy Education for All: Creative Talent Shapes the Future’. • Singapore: Social and Emotional learning (SEL) integrated as part of the Character and Citizenship Education syllabus. • Vanuatu: National Curriculum Statement referencing Learning to Live Together; piloted the Alternative Indicators of Well-being for Melanesia in 2012.
  11. 11. Happy Schools Survey: Responses Languages Over 650 responses received from almost 30 countries in the Asia-Pacific region:
  12. 12. Happy Schools Survey: Results Top 5 Factors for a happy school: Top 5 Factors for a unhappy school:
  13. 13. Happy Schools Framework • Main outcome of the report. • 22 criteria identified. • Three overarching themes: People, Process and Place. • Aims to inform policy based on school-level perspectives.
  14. 14. People • Friendships and Relationships in the School Community • Positive Teacher Attitudes and Attributes • Respect for Diversity and Differences • Positive and Collaborative Values and Practices • Teacher Skills and Competencies
  15. 15. Process • Reasonable and Fair Workload • Teamwork and Collaborative Spirit • Fun and Engaging Teaching and Learning Approaches • Learner Freedom, Creativity and Engagement • Sense of Achievement and Accomplishment • Extracurricular Activities and School Events • Learning as a Team between Students and Teachers • Useful, Relevant and Engaging Learning Content • Mental Well-being and Stress-Management
  16. 16. Place • Warm and Friendly Learning Environment • Secure Environment Free from Bullying • Open and Green Learning and Playing Spaces • School Vision and Leadership • Positive Discipline • Good Health, Sanitation and Nutrition • Democratic School Management
  17. 17. Reflections • Happiness and school quality are inseparable. • Over-focusing on ‘the numbers’ undermines learner well-being. • Need to prioritize learner well-being through: • National development and education policies • New generation of ‘positive teachers’ • Assessments that value and evaluate well- being • Signals a shift in the way we define and measure the quality of education
  18. 18. Next Steps • Policy dialogue and sharing of promising and innovative practices among countries (2016 UNESCO-KEDI Regional Policy Seminar) • Development of a policy brief to share findings and recommendations of the report with policymakers • Advocacy campaign to change attitudes towards a ‘good quality’ education. • Development of indicators and guidelines vis-à- vis each of the specific Happy Schools Framework criteria • Scale-up the Happy Schools Framework to other regions beyond the Asia-Pacific
  19. 19. Thank you! • For more information please visit: www.unescobkk.org/happyschools • Full report: http://bit.ly/happyschoolsreport • Contact us: happyschools@unesco.org r.vivekanandan@unesco.org

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