Camp: Winter vacation is one of the longest breaks students get. Most of them spend it doing pretty much nothing useful.

But there are also those who take tuition classes. A 45-day HAIKU youth camp was launched at Pelkhil School in Thimphu yesterday to provide free integrated educational experience to students.

The pilot project is designed for Bhutanese students entering 12th grade to help them prepare for Bhutan Higher Secondary Examination Certificate (BHSEC) examination. Some 65 students from five schools in Thimphu and Mongar have joined the programme.

Almost 75 percent of the course load will focus on BHSEC subjects. In-depth instruction in English Literature, Mathematics and Science (physics, chemistry and biology) will be provided over during the entire camp period.

With the core values of Happiness, Action, Imagination, Knowledge and Unity (HAIKU), the winter camp aims to foster development of education through leadership programmes.

Dawa, project director, said that apart from the academic curricula, the programme is designed for wholesome development of the student.

“Students are also taught public speaking, global awareness and business writing, among others, to enhance leadership quality in them,” said Dawa.

Eminent leaders will be invited as guest speakers to inspire the students. Physical exercises, including yoga sessions, are also planned for the students at the camp.

Karma Jigme, a participant from Wangbama Central School in Thimphu, said the first day was very interactive. “I hope to spend my vacation fruitfully through this programme,” he said.

Thukten Dorji, a student from Mongar Higher Secondary School, said that rather than spending the holidays sleeping away and roaming around, participating in a programme like this is the wisest choice he’s made so far.

“My teacher encouraged me to join the programme as it will help me prepare for my board exams,” said the 17-year-old.

Rinchen Tamang from Motithang HSS and Sherab Lhamo from Pelkhil School shared similar views about the programme being unique.

The president of the HAIKU initiative, Alex Lawrence, said that integration of knowledge with value is the most essential part of any development. The camp was inspired by the philosophy of Gross National Happiness.

“HAIKU would act as a vehicle for cultivating this entrepreneurial culture in the youth of Bhutan,” said Alex Lawrence, adding that promotion of entrepreneurs is key to any developmental activities.

Younten Tshedup