Education Policies, the Developmental State and GNH in Bhutan: Perspectives from government and schools

Johannes Dragsbæk Schmidt (Editor), Yezer Yezer (Editor)

Research output: Book/ReportAnthologyResearchpeer-review


One of the big questions confronting scholars studying Bhutan’s development trajectory is how and why the priorities devoted to development policies evolved in a certain direction and more specifically what determined, structurally speaking and over less than three decades, the gradual transformation of a feudal and rural society into a relatively well functioning developing democracy and a constitutional monarchy. Development aid is probably one of the most decisive factors explaining the “miracle” although there are other factors as well. Another determining factor has been the latent conflict between cultural preservation and sovereignty and on the other hand the impact from rapid modernization. This has created a sense of national urgency and an efficient rational and capable bureaucracy with a developmental ethos (Schmidt 2017b).
As one commentator from the UNDP notes: Self-confidence and assertiveness are predominant characteristics of the interaction between Bhutanese policy-makers and their foreign counterparts. Bhutanese are firmly in the driver’s seat of development, while foreign experts are strictly considered advisors with no influence on decision-making. Similarly, it is not uncommon that development aid is rejected because of attached «strings» set by donor agencies. Development in Bhutan is distinctly Bhutanese (Priesner 2004: 222). Furthermore, the public sector has been the major engine of economic growth and shifting governments have tried to promote more private sector but so far with little success.
The ideas for this book grew out of a three-years research project collaboration between Bhutanese and Danish scholars on Health in Education in Bhutan. The project involved extensive fieldwork and oral and written interviews with numerous Principals in Schools and Medical staff in Health facilities around the country. The results showed quite clearly that there is an urgent need for more research and it our modest hope that this edited collection may contribute to further and improve the already impressive results Bhutan has achieved in terms of high enrollment and a lively debate regarding the role of the school in Bhutanese society and how education will nurture the future and ongoing societal changes in the country.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherStudera Press, New Delhi
Number of pages264
ISBN (Print)9788194725282
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2021


  • Bhutan
  • GNH
  • Education
  • Health
  • Policy-Making
  • State


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