Buddhism in Bhutan colleges?

By Gyalsten K Dorji, Kuensel Online, May 1, 2009

Timphu, Bhutan -- The royal university of Bhutan (RUB) - in partnership with dratshang - may include Buddhism in Bhutanese colleges.

<< “If it works, we will introduce it in selected colleges”, RUB vice chancellor

The two are organizing a ten-day workshop, starting May 9, to see how this plan would go. During the workshop, dratsang and RUB will attempt to explain and rationalise the practicality of Buddhism for RUB students through discourses, open discussions and meditation practices.

“If it works, we will concretise this programme and introduce it in selected colleges,” said RUB vice chancellor, Dasho (Dr) Pema Thinley. If the experiment is successful, Samtse college of education will be the first to integrate the course from where graduate teachers could pass it on to students.

Dratshang representative Gyembo said such programmes would benefit youth because they would understand what they practice. He said the dratshang was already working closely with RUB to bring such programmes to the youth for some time and would continue to do so.

Dasho (Dr) Pema Thinley said the Bhutanese university education curriculum lacked such programmes. Introducing such courses, he said, was central to the education system of a country with a Buddhist culture.

RUB is also exploring avenues to establish a collaborative relationship with the US-based Naropa University. At a meeting held this week in Thimphu, representatives of both universities discussed the possibility of introducing Buddhist-based counselling programmes for teachers at the Samtse college of education.

Naropa university, set up in 1974 by Chögyam Trungpa, is a Buddhist-inspired university that incorporates Buddhist practices, such as meditation, to enhance traditional teaching methods. Naropa’s representative, MacAndrew Jack, said even meditation retreats were considered part of the curriculum at the university.

“What they’re doing is exciting. It’s in line with our development philosophy of gross national happiness,” said Dasho (Dr.) Pema Thinley. Any collaboration would include teacher and student exchanges, training of Bhutanese teachers at Naropa, and the sharing of educational material.