The latest class on the Indian curriculum: Happiness

Students and teachers take part in a mock classroom at the Happiness training session in New Delhi, 12 July.

Story highlights

  • A curriculum aims to impart emotional intelligence through meditation, focus on emotional needs
  • "If I do everything with mindfulness, my knowledge will increase," a student says

(CNN)"Happiness," spell the large letters on the chalkboard in a classroom in the Government Boys' Senior Secondary School in the southwest of India's capital, Delhi.

Fifty-five seventh-grade students attend the new class, which is meant to enhance their mental and emotional well-being.
    Breaking away from more traditional math, science and language classes, the new happiness curriculum aims to impart emotional intelligence through meditation, storytelling and activities in which the focus is on students' emotional and mental needs. These skills are intended to reduce stress and anxiety and manage any depression.
    Their teacher guides them as they close their eyes and listen carefully to sounds around them. They are asked to note the sounds they can hear and then to isolate one. Eventually, they pay attention to the sound of their own breathing.
    Suraj Sharma, 12, is in seventh grade of the boys' school in Ghittorni, one of the over 1,000 schools in Delhi that began teaching this daily 30- to 45-minute lesson on Monday.
    Suraj's first impression is promising. "If I do everything with mindfulness, my knowledge will increase," he learned on day one, he said. Mindfulness includes meditation and breathing exercises that help relax the mind. Being mindful -- or conscious and aware -- he feels, will allow him to pay closer attention to things he's learning at school.
    The program groups children into three age categories: kindergarten to grade two, grades three to five, and six to eight, according to Rajesh Kumar, head of the state committee formed to design the curriculum.
    To avoid further burdening students, the class carries no grade and will have no textbooks, tests or homework.