|Volume 4 - Issue 08 AUGUST 2006||
SPREADING THE LIGHT THROUGH HUMAN VALUES IN OMAN
Serve And Inspire (SAI) Teams Up With 'The Times Of Oman'
As the Serve And Inspire (SAI) Group – the local nomenclature for the Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organization in Oman – had no ‘locus standi’ to organize an event of any nature, the Times of Oman, a local English daily of substantial circulation, was approached. After listening to the proposal, which envisaged a Human Values based Essay Writing & Poster Making competition for schoolchildren, the owner of the Times of Oman Group agreed to be a media sponsor for the event, paving the way for the SAI Group to engage the official agencies of the country.
The topics were released to the students 4 to 6 weeks in advance, with a write-up being provided about the topics and the five basic human values and sub values. Each school was allowed to send three children in each age group and in each category, a total of 24 applicants from each school. Entries were channeled through the Ministry of Education with a cover letter in Arabic. The entries were judged on content relevance, language, presentation (introduction, subject development and conclusion), neatness and efficacy of conveying the Human Values selected. A three member judging committee of two judges from the community and one from the organizing body independently evaluated each entry and their assessments were separately tabulated to compute the overall points and their ranking. The identities of the participants were not disclosed to the judges. Also, it was ensured that the judges did not receive papers from the schools they were involved with.
“The Day” Dawns
The first edition of “Spreading the Light Through Human Values” got underway on Thursday, February, 20, 2003. After a prayer at the Divine Lotus Feet, the volunteers were ready to set things into motion. There was a lot of effort and work behind the scenes that saw 579 children from 39 schools arriving at the Indian School Al Ghubra, the venue for the event. At 10:00 a.m., the proceedings were inaugurated by Mrs. Fatma Abdul Abbas Noorani, Director, Department of Private Schools, in the presence of senior officials of the Ministry of Education. The whole atmosphere was exuberant and vibrating with the good wishes of one and all.
The Awards Ceremony 2003
As is the cultural practice in the Arab world, the program was initiated with a recitation from the Holy Quran by an Omani schoolchild. This was followed by a rendition of Human Values songs by Omani girls from the Ahmed bin Majid Private School, Oman. The prize distribution to all the winners was handed over by Her Excellency Dr. Fawzia Nasser Al Farsi, Under Secretary in the Ministry of Education, along with other senior members of the Ministry of Education.
S.A.I. Moves Forward In 2004
The Serve And Inspire (SAI) Group conducted the eagerly awaited “Spreading The Light Through Human Values 2004” on April 22 at the Indian School Al Ghubra. This year, with the tremendous encouragement from the Ministry of Education, the event was thrown open to the Arabic medium schools as well, which were nominated by the Ministry of Education. 1105 students from 86 schools – Omani Arabic, Omani Bilingual, International Community Schools and for the first time, standing shoulder to shoulder with their compatriots, students from the Schools for Children with Special Needs – participated in 2004.
The topics for both Poster Making and Essay Writing for 2004 were "Good Manners” for Group A, “Be Good, See Good, Do Good” for Group B, “Sharing and Caring” for Group C, and “Give and Forgive” for Group D.
The Awards Ceremony 2004
What began as a humble beginning in 2003 by planting a seed was over thenext year nurtured by the Ministry of Education and tended by the SAI Group, and thus grew into a tender sapling in 2004. “We are sure that in the years to come this sapling will mature into a sturdy tree bearing the fruits of every person’s efforts, with its roots deeply embedded in Human Values,” say the members of the SAI group full of confidence and love.
The awards ceremony in 2004 was conducted on June 2nd in a grand manner. His Excellency Mustafa Abdul Latif, Undersecretary for Administrative & Financial Affairs, Ministry of Education, was the Chief Guest. Br. G B Choithram Jethwani, Regional Coordinator, Gulf & Middle Eastern Countries of the Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organizations, gave the keynote address.
Mrs. Aisha Ahmed Al Blushi, Director, Department of Private Schools, who spoke on behalf of the Ministry of Education, said that it was of immense satisfaction to have had 1105 participants from 86 schools and the outcome of the event was remarkable. She pointed out the vital need for Education in Human Values and praised the efforts of the SAI Group as truly inspirational. She complimented all the participants and said that their quality of work was of a very high standard.
When children have an idea and think about it for more than two weeks, they tend to absorb it in their personality and it reflects in their character. Competitions such as these help the children better than what they learn from textbooks as they are excited to go out and get involved in activities.
The Awards Ceremony 2005
“’To be good is noble, but to show others how to be good is nobler. You are now in the first stage of the long journey of life. There are many great tasks before you. You have many duties to discharge. The children of today will be the doctors, engineers, educators, traders, administrators, and farmers of tomorrow, developing and contributing to the growth of the nations where you live. The world has huge material resources, but your hand and hearts have to supply the will and skill to use those resources for the good of mankind.’
This was what our Beloved Swami spoke to his students on one occasion. “We hope that what we do today, what the children in Oman learn from this Tree of Human Values, will prepare them for that role tomorrow,” say the dedicated Sai devotees in Oman.
The Awards Ceremony was held on May 18 in a grand manner. His Excellency Mohammed Hamdan Al Toubi, Undersecretary for Educational Planning and Projects, Ministry of Education, was the chief guest. A brochure with full details of the event as well as highlighting the activities of the SAI Group and containing a wealth of information on Sathya Sai Education in Human Values was released on the occasion by the Chief Guest.
2006: Omani Students Throng to the Human Values Competition Conducted by the SAI Group
The Serve And Inspire (SAI) Group conducted the fourth edition of “Spreading the Light Through Human Values,” on April 13 th 2006 in cooperation with the Ministry of Education. Her Excellency Dr. Muna Salim Al Jardany, Undersecretary for Education and Curricula, Ministry of Education, inaugurated the event.
There was a special presentation by the SAI Group to the dignitaries, highlighting the various human values and service programs of the SSSSO in Oman such as a Workshop for teachers in inculcating human values, Seminar on Value Parenting, Value based winter camp for school children, public seminars on human values, blood donation campaigns for two decades, health awareness camps, etc. The presentation also touched upon some of the fascinating projects done by the SSSSO in other parts of the world.
After declaring the event open, Her Excellency Dr. Muna bint Salim Al Jardany, said that events such as this provide a real life experience to the students as they come here and find children from other schools all engaged in interpreting values in the essays and posters. By thinking about these topics and preparing for the event with the help of parents, families and teachers, the values find a place in their inner selves, inner consciousness, which is very important. Dr. Muna expressed the hope that the competitions would grow even bigger and more students would participate next year by sponsoring the competitions in other areas of Oman as well.
Essa Mohammed Al Zadjali, Founder and Chief Editor, Times of Oman, expressed his joy at seeing so many children from all parts of Oman. He wished the SAI Group would expand their efforts and take the program to the different regions so that even more children can participate. Speaking on the role of The Times of Oman, which has been doing yeoman service to the student community by the program along with the SAI Group, Essa Al Zadjali pointed out the social responsibility the press has in seeing that such programs extend to all parts of the country and motivate the children to participate in large numbers so they can derive maximum benefit.
Dr. Madiha Al Shaibany, Deputy Director General, Ministry of Education, having heard of the program in the past few years, witnessed it first hand this year and was full of praise for the organization of an event of such magnitude. She observed that the inclusion of human values in the educational program is a must and activities such as these enhance the curriculum and enlarges the student’s participation. She spoke of the unique diversity that the event offers as it brings together the student community under one roof irrespective of religion, culture and nationality thereby complementing the goal of the UN and UNESCO courses.
The students should go back to their classes and families and discuss these topics again and again and ruminate on them constantly. She further suggested that teachers should follow up in the classroom by encouraging debates and speeches on these topics and articles for the school magazines. Students are like sponges and absorb all they see and hear and therefore it is important as educators to lead by example.
The Award Presentation Ceremony of “Spreading the Light Through Human Values” held on May 17, 2006 , at the Indian School Al Ghubrah, got off to a colorful start with the arrival of the chief guest, His Excellency Munir Abdulnabi Yousuf Makki, member of the Council of Higher Education. Essa Mohammed Al Zedjali, Chairman of Times of Oman and Al Shabiba Group, was the guest of honor. Many officials from the Ministry of Education also participated.
The program commenced with the recitation from the Holy Quran by Jawad Mujtaba Al Lawati, a student of Al Huda Private School.
Speaking on behalf of the Ministry of Education, Dr. Madiha Ahmed Nasser Al Shibani, Deputy Director General, Ministry of Education, applauded the wonderful opportunity that has been created which has facilitated the coming together of students from Omani government, bi-lingual, special education and international schools.
She pointed out that this unique opportunity has resulted in a very positive exchange of ideas and views. She emphasized that education cannot be confined merely to academic achievement nor should it become confused with the gleaning of information from books. Real education must develop and promote compassion and concern for others.
The event was widely covered in the local and regional newspapers such as Times of Oman, Al Shabiba, Oman Daily Observer, Oman Tribune and Khaleej Times as well as Radio Oman FM. In its Thursday magazine, the Times of Oman carried a special cover story on human values spotlighting the worldwide human values programs of the SAI Group and their service activities.
Feedback from a Cross-Section of Dignitaries, Teachers and Parents
Ramesh Mathur, Educational Advisor to Indian Schools in Oman:
Said Abdelaziz Abdullah El Sisi, English Teacher, Anwar El Huda Private School:
Fahad Nasser Al Balushi, English Teacher, Khambash bin Mohd Basic Education School:
Abdul Qayyum, English Teacher, Pakistan School, Muscat:
Shaiara Zulfiqar, Teacher, Bangladesh School, Jalan:
Deepa Rajamuni, Teacher, Srilankan School:
Rose Lina G Palo, Teacher:
We thank Mr. G B Choithram and many other Sai devotees of Oman for sharing with us this inspiring account of Sai activity in the field of education in their country.
- Heart2Heart Team
Dear Reader, how did you like this story? Would you like such stories of Sai activities from other countries? Do you have any story to tell us from your country? Please write to us at [email protected]. Please mention your name and country when you write to us.
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Vol 4 Issue 08 - AUGUST 2006
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