[We Care, We Share] Inspiring story: Art Education in Bhutan

We Care, We Share

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Art Education in Bhutan

Art education refers to using visual and tangible arts for learning, instructing and programming. It includes performing arts such as dance, music, theatre, along with visual arts like drawing, painting, sculpture and design. Art education is immensely beneficial for students in the development of their brain, fine motor skills, visual memory and social skills and also promotes self-esteem, aesthetic awareness, creativity and emotional expression.

“Art education has a positive impact on the developmental growth of a child. It strengthens problem solving and critical thinking skills, adding to a child’s overall academic achievement. It also stimulates imagination and refines cognitive and creative skills. It nurtures important values such as team building skills and respecting alternative viewpoints,” shares Sonam based on her personal experience as an Art Teacher.

Sonam Pelden is a Teacher at Katsho Lower Secondary School in Haa Dzongkhag. Art curriculum was introduced into the Bhutanese education system in 2005 and today it a regular subject across all schools in the country. 

“I had the opportunity to attend an arts orientation workshop at the beginning of the 2017 academic session. Although art as a subject was introduced across the country in 2012, it was new to me and my school,” said Sonam. After attending the workshop, Sonam oriented teachers across the Haa Dzongkhag with support from the Dzongkhag Education Office. Arts and crafts clubs as well as art exhibitions were promoted in schools to showcase and recognize the interests and talents of the students as well as encourage other students to join.

In 2018, Sonam seized the opportunity to participate in a training in Japan offered by Hamada Children’s Museum of Arts in Hamada City, Japan. “I attended the training with immense enthusiasm since everything I was learning seemed practical and doable in Bhutan. I couldn’t wait to implement them in my classes in Bhutan,” said Sonam. With this new knowledge and experience acquired from the training in Japan, Sonam conducted another Dzongkhag Based In-service Program inviting a teacher from each school to attend. She aspired to share her knowledge and experience to promote art education in Bhutan.

During the pandemic, closure of schools forced teaching and learning to shift online. However, Sonam was aware that many children living in remote parts of the country were deprived of access to online learning due to internet connectivity and other factors. Recognizing this drawback for children in remote parts, Sonam volunteered to leave home and teach at a remote village called Tanga.

“The Dzongkhag Education Office initiated a weeklong cluster level program to reach out to the children living in the two Gewogs within the Dungkhag. Sixteen teachers from different schools in Haa volunteered to teach at different centers. I was privileged to be one of them,” stated Sonam.

Sonam planned her daily lessons very carefully and used her time judiciously. However, she also conducted art classes and health and physical education lessons in between her regular classes to encourage the children to learn new skills. She was thrilled to see that the students were very enthusiastic and embraced the opportunity to participate in these new activities.

“Lastly, I am very happy and satisfied to have added some value to their lives within a short space of time. I would recommend all my colleagues and fellow teachers to reach out to every student and share such activities as it will have an extremely positive impact on their lives,” concluded Sonam.

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