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MEDIA ADVISORY: What makes a happy school? UNESCO to launch first framework for learner well-being in the Asia-Pacific

Art Exhibition and Report Launch to showcase what a happy school means to people across the Asia-Pacific region.

 Following the International Day of Happiness on 20 March 2016, UNESCO Bangkok will launch the first-ever report on happy schools and learner well-being in the Asia-Pacific region on 25 March 2016. The art exhibition will run for one week until the 3 April 2016 at The Commons in Bangkok (Thailand) and will showcase artwork from across the region on the theme: What does a happy school look like to you?

In view of the challenges students face in today’s competitive, stress-fueled, and test-focused world, the theme of happiness has come to the forefront of the global policy agenda, having been recently recognized in the United Nations General Assembly 2011 Resolution as ‘a fundamental human goal’ and in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as related to the quality of education and well-being. The importance of happiness in schools has also attracted global attention as global indices such as the Better Life Index and international assessments including PISA aim to measure the linkages between learner happiness and the quality of education.

In June 2014, UNESCO Bangkok launched the Happy Schools Project to find out ‘what makes for a happy school’ based on the voices of students, teachers, parents and others at the heart of the school community. Research was conducted from June 2014 to November 2015 with the aim of understanding what factors describe a happy school and to identify qualitative variables on school happiness that could potentially be measured. The research methods included a desk study, a workshop with schools from ASEAN member countries, a survey, and a seminar.

The main outcome of the study is the Happy Schools Framework, which consists of 22 criteria for a happy school, grouped into three broad categories of People, Process and Place, as well as strategies for achieving these criteria in schools. The Happy Schools Framework calls for education systems to shift away from traditional measures and to instead embrace diversity of talents and intelligence by recognizing values, strengths and competencies that contribute to enhancing happiness. Suggested criteria for achieving these goals include supporting positive teacher attitudes and attributes, encouraging learner freedom, creativity and engagement, and creating a warm and friendly learning environment.

In light of the upcoming International Day of Happiness on 20 March 2016, UNESCO Bangkok is holding a special event on 25 March 2016 to launch the new report – Happy Schools: A Framework for Learner Well-being in the Asia-Pacific - as well as to showcase the top 30 entries from the Happy Schools Art Contest from artists across Asia-Pacific region in an exhibition to be held from 25 – 3 April 2016. The images on display were chosen from more than 160 submissions to a contest on the theme “What does a happy school look like to you?”

The winners of the Happy Schools Art Contest will present their images at the event as part of an award ceremony to coincide with the launch of the Happy Schools report and art exhibition. UNESCO Bangkok will sponsor the travel of the three top entrants to attend the event and to receive prizes. The artwork on display reflect the breadth of the entries received, ranging from hand-drawn illustrations and bright photos capturing what a happy school means to them.



Launch of the report - Happy Schools: A Framework for Learner Well-Being in the Asia-Pacific, as well as of the Art Exhibition showcasing the top 30 images submitted to the Happy Schools Art Contest.


UNESCO Bangkok Director Mr Gwang-Jo Kim will open the launch ceremony, followed by a brief presentation of the key messages of the report by the Happy Schools Project Team. This will be followed by a special award ceremony inviting 1st place winner Yejoon (Jennifer) Yoo from the Republic of Korea, 2nd place winner Estiawati Subair from Indonesia, and 3rd place winner Debdatta Chakraborty from India who will each present their winning images and receive their prizes.

 Launch:  25 March 2016 13:00-16:00 

Registration: 13:00 – 13:30

Opening ceremony: 13:30 – 13:45

Presentation of the Key Messages: 13:45 – 14:00

Award ceremony with the winners of the Happy Schools Art Contest: 14:00 – 14:30

Reception and viewing of the exhibition: 14:30 – 16:00

Exhibition: 25 March – 3 April 2016


WHERE: The Commons, Sukhumvit 55, 335 Thong Lo Soi 17, Khlong Tan Nuea, Watthana, Bangkok 10110, Thailand.


CONTACT: For further information on the report and to RSVP for the launch, please contact: Aliénor Salmon, Programme Officer at UNESCO’s Section for Inclusive and Quality Education,



Happy Schools: A Framework for Learner Well-Being in the Asia-Pacific - Full Report

Executive Summary

Shortlisted Entries to the Happy Schools Art Contest