Assessing Educating for Gross National Happiness

Applying the Theory of Practice Architectures


  • Kaka Kaka University of New England
  • Nadya Rizk University of New England
  • Judith Miller University of New England



Gross National Happiness, practice architectures, assessment of schools, Bhutan


Gross National Happiness (GNH) is a central policy, symbolic of Bhutan, which gave rise to Educating for GNH (EGNH). In Bhutan, the school Performance Management System is the sole instrument used by the Ministry of Education to evaluate the performance of schools. To test the utility of the Performance Management System in fulfilling the intended goals of EGNH, two of its key subcomponents—the School Self-Assessment and School Performance Scorecards—were assessed through the lens of the theory of practice architectures. The theory describes what comprises social practices and how they are shaped by the social, cultural and political contexts in which they occur. Content analysis was carried out using Leximancer text-mining software. The findings showed that the sayings and relatings and their corresponding cultural-discursive and social-political arrangements were not as evident in the School Self-Assessment indicators as the doings and material-economic arrangements. The findings also indicated that both the School Self-Assessment’s and the School Performance Scorecards’ indicators focus more on assessing leadership than teaching. The authors present several suggestions to ensure a closer alignment with the goals of EGNH, to demonstrate a balanced focus on assessing teaching and leadership, and to represent all practice architectures proportionately. Implications of this study should inform the policy and practices of Educating for GNH values in Bhutanese schools. The methods of the study could be adapted to examine educational practices beyond those of Bhutan.

Author Biographies

Kaka Kaka, University of New England

Kaka is a doctoral candidate in the School of Education at University of New England.  Prior to pursuing his postgraduate studies, he served as a primary school teacher, Head teacher, Principal, Assistant District Education Officer, Education Monitoring Officer and Officiating Chief Programme Officer. He resigned from civil service in June 2018 to pursue an academic career. His contribution to the Ministry of Education in Bhutan includes development of concept papers for Central Schools, Autonomous Schools, Armed Forces School, and mainstreaming Technical and Vocational Education into school system among many others. 

Nadya Rizk, University of New England

Dr Nadya Rizk is a senior lecturer in Science Education at University of New England. She has a background in secondary school science teaching and primary teacher education. Her research interests include professional learning and development for in-service primary science teachers. She continues to collaborate with teachers in schools in this area.

Judith Miller, University of New England

Adjunct Associate Professor Judith Miller has been actively contributing to preservice teacher education, teaching and researching at the University of New England since the early 1990s. Judith has contributed to both collaborative research and curriculum development in Bhutan, most recently championing study programmes for young Australian teachers to experience education in Bhutan through the support of the Australian Government New Colombo Plan Scholarship scheme.




How to Cite

Kaka, K., Rizk, N., & Miller, J. (2022). Assessing Educating for Gross National Happiness: Applying the Theory of Practice Architectures. Australian and International Journal of Rural Education, 32(2), 36–58.