ABCD & GNH in Bhutan

The Bhutan Royal Education Council working with Calgary-based educators (Mindful Development Consultants Ltd.) on an educator development project made an exciting link between the capacity-building elements of ABCD and appreciative inquiry with their country’s focus on GNH, or ‘gross-national happiness”, resulting in new strategies being incorporated within their upcoming work with parents, students and staff.

Those of us who work with CAFÉ are familiar with the acronym for Asset Based Community Development (ABCD).  We might not be as familiar with GNH.  In Bhutan, however, GNH or Gross National Happiness is a familiar term. There are a number of definitions for GNH. In an article, A Short Guide to Gross National Happiness on the website of the Centre for Bhutan Studies, it is defined follows:

“Gross National Happiness (GNH) measures the quality of a country in more holistic way than GNP, (Gross National Product) and believes that the beneficial development of human society takes place when material and spiritual development occurs side by side to complement and reinforce each other.”

IMG_0316In October 2012, as part of a group from Calgary working with Mindful Development Consultants Ltd., Canada, I had the opportunity to work in Bhutan with the Royal Education Council (REC). Part of our responsibility was to plan and facilitate workshops for school principals and other educators.  Strategies, resources and research from our work with CAFÉ were incorporated into our plans for the workshops.  When we presented the material in Bhutan, we were excited about the response.  Our participants saw immediate links from appreciative inquiry, capacity development and ABCD to GNH and were able to see the value of incorporating these strategies into their work with staff, students and parents.  The ideas from those activities kept coming back up in discussions and evaluations.


On the last day of the workshop participants had the opportunity to plan for the application of the ideas from the workshop into their work back at their schools.  The group ended their planning session by collectively writing and performing a song about their gifts, strengths, and talents.  From the plans that were presented it is likely that the influence of the CAFÉ Institute has spread across the world to Bhutan.

~ Louise Partridge