Thursday, April 27, 2017

Rise Up - Climate Change Education Initiative

Rise Up is an IDB climate change education initiative that seeks to encourage children and youth to use their creativity and energy to come up with feasible, sustainable, long-term strategies to mitigate climate change.

Explore Rise Up themes 

We present instruction videos, a Green School Tool Kit and Videogames. These are all materials that teachers and students will be able to use in schools to turn children into brave superheroes with the mission of saving the planet!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Happy Schools

What Makes a School Happy? Perspectives from Six Schools

What are the criteria for a Happy School? As part of the Happy Schools Project, an initial criteria was formed based on a desk study and analysis of more than 650 survey responses.
The criteria outlines three major themes: People – relating to relationships and engagement of school community stakeholders, Process – relating to the various aspects of the teaching and learning process and Place – relating to both the physical environment and atmosphere of the school.
With the aim of creating a Happy Schools Framework, UNESCO Bangkok held the Happy Schools Seminar from 4-5 June 2015 in order to enrich this initial criteria. Six different schools from five countries of the region (chosen based on their fulfilment of the initial criteria) participated  and shared their perspectives on how such a framework could be applied in different contexts in their respective countries, irrespective of socio-economic, religious, ethnic or cultural differences.
Although the schools came from diverse countries, backgrounds and perspectives, they reached consensus on what criteria is important to make a school happy, highlighting some key reoccurring themes. The importance of relationships was seen as crucial, whether relating to the importance of friendship between students, the relationship between students and teachers, but also the engagement of the wider school community such as parents and administrators among others. At the heart of these relationships, a number of values were cited as crucial, including mutual respect, understanding, equality, love and care, whereby all members of the school community contribute and collaborate equally without segregation or differentiation.

The importance of learning beyond the classroom was also highlighted, where students are given the freedom to learn outdoors and through a number of different clubs or activities that can boost creativity and movement such as the arts and sports. They felt that this, along with reduced stress and a more reasonable workload for students and teachers alike, would mean better recognition and celebration of talents and achievements beyond mere ‘grades’ or test results.

Finally, the school environment was recognized as important for creating a positive atmosphere in schools. This relates in particular to having green areas, a safe environment free of bullying as well as good nutrition. Overall, these elements arguably reflect the three broad categories of ‘People, Process and Place’ as illustrated in the initial criteria.

In order to look more in depth at these aspects, promising practices and initiatives from the six participating schools provide inspiring examples that could be applied in various contexts:

Pemagatshel Middle Secondary School, Bhutan
In order to reduce student stress and create a peaceful and positive atmosphere, students practice daily mindfulness meditation for just two minutes three times per day, in addition to a longer guided meditation which takes place during the school assembly every Monday. This is part of a wider initiative to preserve and promote local culture, with other activities also including traditional games, spiritual activities and the practicing of ‘values’ such as volunteering in the local community. The school also promotes a green atmosphere through flower gardening, a school agricultural programme and by involving the local community for environment-related activities or occasions such as earth hour.

Vidyashilp Academy, India
At Vidyashilp Academy, a great emphasis is placed on keeping a reasonable workload and reducing student stress with regard to exams. To this end, there are no exams from Grades 1-5, and instead students conduct activities with worksheets as a basis for assessment. There are also no textbooks. Instead teachers create lesson plans as part of a collaborative process, providing a significant opportunity for relevance of the content. Each lesson plan is created by a teacher and must include an aim, objective, activity and outcome. These are then uploaded online to be reviewed by two other teachers who may offer suggestions, as well as allowing the opportunity for including student input.

Daegu Gachang Elementary School, Republic of Korea
Designated as a ‘Happy School’ in 2012 by the metropolitan office of education, this school strives to be a ‘happy school that nurtures dreams and talents’, one of the elements of the Ministry of Education’s national policy on ‘Happy Education For All’. The school works to build this vision and create a positive mindset in the school community through an emphasis on relationships, fun and enjoyable activities and a green and safe environment. Through the Gachang Masters Programme for instance, the school aims to help students dream about their future through practicing a variety of activities beyond academics, ranging from foreign languages, computer skills, martial arts, violin or jump roping to name but a few. Students are then awarded with certificates as an important form of recognition. 

NIST International School, Thailand
NIST International school works to promote a positive atmosphere in the school environment in a number of ways. The use of visual displays are used to promote child health and nutrition, for instance by labelling calories burned in climbing staircases and posters on maintaining a healthy weight. In addition, the school canteen provides healthy meals and snacks, including special discounts on salads for students. Great value is also placed on student-teacher relationships based on support and acceptance, in an environment where students’ individuality is encouraged through the freedom to grow, make mistakes and be themselves by learning in a variety of ways.

Chulalongkorn Demonstration Secondary School, Thailand
Central to this school’s vision is the emphasis on relationships. Given that most students stay enrolled over 12 years, they see their classmates, teachers and school staff as their family, complimented by strong ties with parents and alumni. This is encouraged through a number of school clubs which are organized by either students or teachers based on the idea that the easiest way to form such relationships is through engaging in activities together. For instance, the school has a ‘friendship building programme’ dedicated to fostering such positive relationships. 

Thuc Nghiem VNIES Lower Secondary School, Viet Nam
The school’s vision statement itself (‘Every school day is a happy day’) recognizes the importance of promoting happiness. Promising practices include various ways of learning including through extracurricular activities. This includes the use of electronic books to encourage research skills rather than memorization, as well as learning lessons outside the classroom, for instance in museums for subjects such as history and biology. In addition, students are encouraged to learn by making mistakes and without fear of punishment. For instance when marking a student’s homework, teachers aim to reduce pressure by providing useful comments, advice and constructive feedback, rather than using marks or crosses to highlight errors.

The Happy Schools Project was launched in June 2014 aiming to promote happiness in schools in the Asia-Pacific region and share proven practices that enhance learner well-being and holistic development at school level, placing particular importance on the socio-emotional aspects of learning. One of the main objectives of the project is to develop a Happy Schools Framework, consisting of the criteria required for a happy school, as well as the strategies in order to meet the criteria at school or policy level.
For more information, please contact Ramya Vivekanandan [r.vivekanandan(at)]

Written by Aliénor Salmon [a.salmon(at)]

Related Links:
• Happy School Seminar
• Happy Schools Seminar Held in Bangkok!
• Do We Measure What We Treasure?
• Happy Schools Project

Happy Schools: Panel on Policies and Practices in the Asia-Pacific Region

UNESCO’s Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education (UNESCO Bangkok) launched the Happy Schools Project in June 2014 in the aim of promoting learner well-being and holistic development in schools. Following a series of research activities, the report Happy Schools: A Framework for Learner Well-being in the Asia-Pacific was published in March 2016 to coincide with the International Day of Happiness. Based on school voices and perspectives in the region, the report proposes a framework consisting of 22 criteria for a happy school and highlights promising and innovative practices in schools for reaching the criteria, as well as reflections and next steps to promote learner well-being in policy and practice. In light of today’s competitive, stress-fueled and test-focused world, the Happy Schools Project aims to offer an alternative notion of the quality of education that values and nurtures learners’ diverse talents and strengths.

This panel offered various perspectives from policymakers, experts and school-level stakeholders on how the Happy Schools framework can be promoted and implemented in education systems in the region and beyond.


As one of the major activities of the Happy Schools Project, the Happy Schools Seminar took place from 4-5 June, 2015 at NIST International School in Bangkok, Thailand. The seminar brought together a selected number of schools from the Asia-Pacific region to share their experiences, perspectives and proven practices in ensuring learner wellbeing and holistic development. More specifically, the objective of the seminar was to build a ‘Happy Schools Framework’ that can help implement the concept of ‘Happy Schools’ in a diversity of contexts through:

1)  Discussion and shared understanding of the criteria that promote the concept of ‘Happy Schools’, and

2)  Discussion on the strategies, as well as the ways and means for schools to meet each criteria.

 Presentation Files

UNESCO Bangkok:
School Presentations:
       Akita Prefecture Schools, Japan.
Pemagatshel Middle Secondary School, Bhutan.
Vidyashilp Academy, India.
Daegu Gachang Elementary School, Republic of Korea.
Chulalongkorn Demonstration Secondary School, Thailand. 
Thuc Nghiem VNIES Experimental Lower Secondary School, Viet Nam.