Volume 5 - Issue 03 MARCH 2007
NOTEWorthy EHV Workshops in Abu Dhabi, U.A.E
“Education is for life and not for mere living
So peep at the precincts of value education
‘EDUCARE’ is that holistic education for all
Good character is the reward of this education
A Modern Desert City
Abu Dhabi (Arabic: literally "Father of Gazelle") is the eponymous capital of the largest of the seven emirates which constitute the South-West Asian nation of United Arab Emirates. Located in the North Central region of the country, this city lies on a T-shaped island jutting into the Persian Gulf from the Central Western Coast. More than 80% of its 1.8 million population (according to 2006 census) is made of expatriates.
Abu Dhabi is one of the most modern cities in the world. With headquarters of most of the emirates oil operating companies as well as other national embassies based here, this city is, truly, the center of government and business life in the UAE. The architecture of its modern buildings and skyscrapers is the finest in the Middle East. Located in the oil-rich and strategic Persian Gulf region, the majority of the inhabitants of Abu Dhabi are expatriate workers and professionals from India, Pakistan, Egypt, Bangladesh, Philippines, the United Kingdom, and elsewhere. The native-born populations are Arabic-speaking, Gulf Arabs who are part of a clan-based society, while the rest speak English, Urdu or Persian.
It is interesting that though a desert strip, Abu Dhabi city is known in the region for its greenery. With numerous parks and gardens, unspoiled beaches, the tranquility of the desert, rugged mountain scenery and lush green oases – all in a clean and safe environment – Abu Dhabi is an amazing Arabian adventure, mystifying and lively. But what is more heartening in the recent times is the blossoming of a unique bloom: the Sathya Sai Educare Programme.
EHV in Abu Dhabi - An Educational Inspiration
In Abu Dhabi, we find Education in Human Values classes imparting value instruction and inspiration to more than 150 children by scores of Sai teachers every week at eight centers; training workshops for Bal Vikas teachers; seminars on ‘Dynamic Parenting’ for school teachers and Parent’s Contact Programs held in the Sai centers regularly; a two-day discussion on Human Values in 2000 attracting 350 teachers besides leading local luminaries like H.E .Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research and Chancellor of the Higher Colleges of Technology, and Indian ambassador HE. K. C. Singh.
In addition to the above, later in the same year, Dr Art-ong Jumsai Na Ayudhya, Director of Institute of Sathya Sai Education, Thailand, was invited to address the Zayed University officials and teaching staff; two volumes of ‘Divine Stories’ books containing over 200 stories on Human Values published in 2003 were accepted to be published by the Books and Publications Trust, Prasanthi Nilayam, since 2005, and the generation of a masive amount of material on Human Value education and its aids, the Human Values programme in operation in this prosperous cosmopolitan city by dedicated Sai volunteers in the decade old Abu Dhabi Sai Centre is an inspiration for the rest of the world.
The First EHV Workshop
One of the greatest moments of jubilation for the 350 odd members of the Sai centre (which swells to 800 on special occasions) was on 15 March, 2006 when Bhagavan Baba accepted their prayer, submitted in a letter, to extend the Education in Human Values programme to English Medium schools in the city and gave His blessings to go ahead with the proposal. This added benediction put the whole programme in a new gear, and the motivated devotees, on June 2, 2006 organized the First Workshop on Education in Human Values in the Auditorium of the Indian Embassy.
Hon. Guest Prof. Dr. Reynold Macpherson, Chancellor, Abu Dhabi University, lit the lamp to inaugurate the conference, and as the flame flickered, EHV students of the Sai Organization sang human values songs in melody and harmony. Later, the chairman of the Abu Dhabi Sai Centre gave the welcome address.
This was followed by informative and revealing lectures by EHV trainers from the Sathya Sai Organisation of Oman. Topics on which they elaborated included ‘Why Value Education?’; ‘Role of Teachers and Inculcation of Human Values’; ‘The Psychological Impact of SSEHV on Children’; ‘Value Inculcation across Curriculum and Co-curriculum’, etc.
Teaching and Leading by Example
An eminent child psychologist from Dubai, Dr. Onita Nakra, PhD, who is also a Sai devotee, gave an enlightening lecture on ‘The Teacher as Counselor’ with solutions for common child and adolescent problems in schools. She added that Sathya Sai EHV is conveyed primarily by example and experiential exercises, rather than academic study, and explained that everyday events occurring in the classroom can be used directly to illustrate the values.
Teaching fraternity from 15 schools and one University participated in the conference and at the end of the day-long conference, one of the participant teachers said,
“Many behavioral problems in society are mirrored in schools, through bullying, drug abuse, theft and vandalism, which all make a teacher’s work more difficult and less satisfying. In addressing this need, the SSEHV Programme, in conjunction with inspirational teachers, seeks to improve the moral quality of young people leaving school and make teaching more satisfying to those in the profession."
That the whole event was a fulfilling experience for every teacher and educator who participated, was evident from their countenance and encouraging words during and at the end of the conference.
“Thank you to all of you who have put in so much time and effort to make the Sathya Sai EHV training so educative and inspiring,” said a teacher from an Indian school. “The training modules were organized very well to depict one of the five values and the way it has been presented using the five teaching components was excellent. This programme has made a positive impact on my personal and family life”.
“EHV... the future of the world.”
Thoroughly impressed with the lecturers as well as the excellent presentation of a skit ‘Five Elements’ depicting how value erosion leads to deterioration of life, staged by the EHV children during the lunch recess, all the 200 odd participants which included many Head teachers and Principals lauded the SSEHV Programme and placed their requests for PowerPoint EHV lectures, training, follow-up and on-going support revolving around human values teaching tools in their schools. They expressed their viewpoint:
“Sathya Sai Education in Human Values Programme is a much needed tool that provides a structured, well thought out methodology for providing value based education. These works are much needed, are to be held more frequently taking local issues for deliberations.”
But the icing on the cake was the message of Prof. Reynold Macpherson, Chancellor of Abu Dhabi University, Abu Dhabi , who said, “Education in Human values is the ultimate in education and the future of the world. I will readily give my auditorium in the newly coming up campus to hold EHV seminars in the future and also I will involve all my teaching faculty and students.”
An Eagerly Awaited Follow-up
That was the overwhelming impact the Conference had. In fact, the request for holding another workshop was so compelling from teachers and principals that the Sai devotees organized a follow-up workshop within four months. And this time, the Conference was held in the Y auditorium of the Zayed University, Abu Dhabi campus on September 22, 2006. Again more than 200 turned up for the workshop but there were now three colleges and two universities apart from ten English medium schools. Clearly the word had spread and it was being increasingly admired by all concerned with education.
“I thoroughly enjoyed attending the Sathya Sai EHV workshop. The Programme gave me an excellent insight into human values which are intrinsic in every one of us, and which I am now trying to put into practice every day. The methods of teaching that were used were especially efficient as they were geared for people from all walks of life. How can I admit my children?” This was what a Muslim lecturer from the Higher College of Technology enquired.
Another salient facet of this workshop was the invitation given to administrative staff of educational institutions and also to parents. The SSEHV Programme is most successful only when the whole environment of a student is comprised of value-conscious adults, and to help achieve that, increasing the value-awareness of the entire school staff and parents is paramount. Among the audience members were Muslims, Christians of various nationalities and Arab nationals belonging to United Arab Emirates.
“I appreciate the strong stand SSEHV takes on society's values. A child can switch on a television and see images that imply greed and selfishness is good, that physical attractiveness is more important than inner worth, and that only youth matters. I am sure children who go through the SSEHV programme will help to transform society, walking the path of values into a better world," said Reema Menon, a counselor.
After inaugurating the Conference, HE Mr. C. M. Bhandari, Indian Ambassador to UAE, said, “While commending the service activities carried by Sai Organisation and the transformation being brought by Bhagavan’s teachings, Education in Human Values is one important tool for all educational institutions to adopt to produce useful, serviceable and productive human resources. He urged that parents and teachers have the responsibility to be good role models for their children, which means that they must practice what they want them to follow. If parents and teachers set the right example, the students will automatically blossom into models of excellence and become good citizens.”
In the 8-hour long workshop, two speakers from Dubai Centre and four from Abu Dhabi, dealt on pertinent issues like Traditional and Family values; The Importance of Human values in education and society; Human values - the heart of dynamic parenting; Integration of Human values through curricular and extra curricular activities; and Value Education at the university level.
At the end of the conference, the head teacher of a school said,
“This was a very positive and revitalizing course. SSEHV states the teacher's role is the most important and that we can really make a difference to the pupil and to society. As teachers for such long periods this subject of human values has been a powerful, enriching and uplifting message. Participating in the course as an experienced teacher, I have felt renewed and as a part of a community that shares my vision for education.”
Rejuvinated Enthusiasm for Teachers - A Quiet Revolution for Students
It was the same feeling of rejuvenated enthusiasm that echoed from every teacher who went through the course. A teacher from ARS said, “Teachers who have tried EHV program have found that it does work, particularly with the aid of the Silent Sitting exercise. Silent sitting helps to quiet children’s’ minds, make them less hyperactive, improve memory and concentration, and overall, improve receptivity and standards in all areas of learning.”
A silent revolution of ideal learning was on. “Children will internalize the messages in the songs and quotations, and develop in their understanding. The stories offer opportunities for improving communication skills through discussion, group work and role-play,” said a Christian teacher.
In the midst of all these ‘paradigm shifts’ in the minds of teachers on teaching methodology, there were lighter moments too when EHV students sang value songs and the Chancellor of Abu Dhabi University, Professor Macpherson, gave away certificates to EHV students and felicitated them. The chancellor also made an enthralling Power Point presentation on ‘Implementing Education in Human Values at University level’. He said that EHV prepared students for the opportunities, responsibilities and experience of a meaningful adult life.
With requests pouring in to the Sai Organisation to conduct similar programs as frequently as possible, the Sai volunteers knew by the Lord’s grace, the programme was a success. What really touched every participant’s heart was the sincerity and the genuineness of purpose with which the whole event was conducted.
It was great teamwork and you could see love everywhere, as a school supervisor from OWES said, “My overall assessment is that it is an excellent Programme. It is very well structured, can easily be integrated into any school’s curriculum and help to improve its ethics through the five values i.e. Truth, Love, Peace, Right Conduct and Non-Violence. The love generated amongst the participants was very profound."
Ultimately it was love which did the trick and that is truly the ‘heart and soul’ of EHV. As Swami says, “A person with no love in his heart is no man at all.” And the lead that the devotees of Abu Dhabi have taken in spreading this message of love through the principles and practices of Education in Human Values is commendable. We, at Heart2Heart, wish that with time the desert-city of Abu Dhabi transforms itself into a divine-city pulsating with love and compassion.
– Heart2Heart Team
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Vol 5 Issue 03 - MARCH 2007
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