The seventh three-day international conference on Human Values in Higher Education opened yesterday at Thimphu.

Vice chancellor of Royal University of Bhutan (RUB), Nidup Dorji, said that with development eroding human culture, ethical and spiritual values, the need to restore faith and resolve for positive change in attitude and behaviour is crucial. “We need to adopt a more holistic view of education that aims at the development of the faculties and pay more attention to developing cognitive, affectionate, the emotional, aesthetic in other words the humane aspects of study.”

More than 120 participants from five countries— Bangladesh, India, Nepal, the Maldives and Bhutan are attending the conference. The event, which also celebrates 50 years of diplomatic relationship between Bhutan and India, is themed ‘education for holistic human health.’

President of Khesar Gyalpo University of Medical Sciences (KGUMS), Dr K P Tshering, said that because health professionals take care of the sick, the need and effort in medical university to introduce universal human values for students, faculties, and staff was recognised.

He said that the conference this year would focus on all aspects of human health including mental, physical, and environment health. “The conference will have keynote speeches, hold panel discussions, and have experience sharing sessions. We expect recommendations and guidelines to develop education for the wellbeing of all, particularly in the area of health.”

The conference is organised by eight universities including KGUMS and RUB from Bhutan.

The first international conference was held in Hyderabad, India in 2012. Bhutan also hosted the 4th international conference in 2015.

Her Majesty the Gyalyum Tshering Pem Wangchuck, who graced the inaugural of the conference, said that Youth Development Fund is establishing an institute of wellbeing in the country, which will adopt the universal values education programme.

Her Majesty the Gyalyum stressed the need for universal human value programme in daycare centres, early childhood development centres, education systems, and workplaces. “I am happy to hear that the universal human value is now being proposed for self-reflection as a foundation tool in over 40 universities and both the RUB and KGUMS are engaged in similar practices.”

The conference ends on April 28.

Phurpa Lhamo