Bhutan has two policies ruling children with disabilities and special needs in the country: the Standards for Inclusive Education and the National Education Policy. Everyone with physical, mental and other types of impairment will be able to access and benefit from education alongside others.
In 2015, the small Himalayan country best known for its unique principle of Gross National Happiness has transitioned its educational system from being monastic to a public institution in the 1960s. It has devoted about seven percent of its gross domestic product to education, to enable free education up to the tenth grade.
Seven years ago, there are over 3,300 children with immediate special learning needs in Bhutan (UNICEF, 2008). The Individual Education Plan (IEP), which was particularly framed to assist learning of those disabled and diverse educational needs children was also still not implemented. That changed when the UNDO and GNHC formulated the National Disability Policy of Bhutan last January 5, 2016. They based it on international standards such as the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. A day short to a year after—January 4, 2017—they finally endorsed the standards for inclusive education
Prior to that, in 2001, the Changangkha Lower Secondary School was established as an integrated school providing special needs education. The Drukgyel Lower Secondary School.also put up a Deaf Education Unit in 2003. Three more integrated schools were set up in Mongar, Samtse and Zhemgang by a division under the Department of School Education that started as a unit only in 2000.
Bhutan believes that “education has become the inalienable right of all Bhutanese,” therefore, in its developmental philosophy, persons with disabilities in the country have to “enjoy equal opportunities in all walks of life.” Even those with physical, mental and other types of impairment can access and benefit from education as well (Education Sector Strategy 2020). It has ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), signed the Convention on the Rights of the Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), the Millennium Development Goals, the Education for All -Dakar Framework for Action (1994), and the Proclamation of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and Pacific (ESCAP) Commission on Disability on the Full Participation and Equality of People with Disabilities (2008).
“Differently-abled people shouldn’t just be given charity, clothes, and food, and left alone. They should be made part of the society, part of the activities. They should be a contributing member of the society and not just recipients.” ~ Sanga Dorji
Video taken from the YouTube Channel of Yellow Bhutan