Delhi’s, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government inaugurated its ‘Happiness curriculum’ on 2 July 2018 in the presence of spiritual leader Dalai Lama, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia.
After a three-day orientation of the teachers, the classes started on 15 July. As part of it, the students of Delhi government schools will have a 45-minute ‘happiness period’ which will include meditation, storytelling, question and answer sessions, value education and mental exercises.
The activity-based curriculum will not have any formal examinations. However, a periodic assessment of children’s progress will be made using a happiness index.
But what really goes on in these classes?
The class involved a short mindfulness exercise in which students are made to close their eyes and simply pay attention to the sounds around them. Once the children opened their eyes, they were told a story with a moral message at the end.
Atishi Marlena, former Education Advisor, says that they wanted to introduce a system about well-being without using religion and therefore they decided on happiness as their main focus.
But Why Happiness Classes?
One in every 4 Indian children aged 13 to 15 struggles with depression according to a 2017 report by the World Health Organization. On the 2018 World Happiness Report, India ranked at a very poor 133 among 156 nations, according to Sustainable Development Solutions Network data. We are bringing up our children in a world ridden with anxiety. India has one of the highest rate of teen suicides in the world (Lancet report, 2012).
In such a scenario, it’s important to provide opportunities for socio-emotional growth of children .
While the ‘Happiness curriculum’ definitely seems to be a well-intentioned proposition, holding great potential, it’s too soon to conclude how impactful and successful its implementation would be.>