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Values Based Education for a Better World

Today, the modern world is dynamic, fast paced, and seems to be racing only towards a ‘knowledge society’. No doubt economic condition has improved in many countries and standards of living have enhanced, albeit at varying levels. Rapid progress of science and technology in modern times has brought about revolutionary changes in the life of man. It has made societies across the world materially rich, but alas, morally poor! As Isaac Asimov, a great modern thinker, puts it, “The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.” If men and women do not have the wisdom to use knowledge in the proper way, the knowledge will turn destructive! Men and women, who lack wisdom but possess power, knowledge and wealth, lead society to disaster and chaos.

With the rise of industrial nations, the modern education system is producing students with information-based knowledge, rather than transformational knowledge. The competition brought about by this system is mind numbing for the students, thus crushing creativity and dehumanising the heart. Today, more than any time ever, education is seen merely as a means for climbing the economic ladder. The system these days is focused on the development of the mind, and to some extent the body, but the emotional and spiritual side is almost entirely neglected. Students know how to programme data for computers, yet lack empathy and compassion to help fellow men! Transferring of the finer and more essential aspects of life by the teacher to the student, like human values and spirituality are diminishing. Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use, to change the world.” Learning to be human is a critical aspect, grossly missing from modern education. There is certainly a mood of disenchantment prevalent today.

In the current scenario, this system of education has been blamed for all evils plaguing the society.

In his book, ‘Small is Beautiful’, E. F. Schumacher says, “The problems of education in the world today, are the reflections of the deepest problems of our age. The problems are not physical, but metaphysical; and hence the solutions should also be metaphysical. If the current anti-metaphysical atmosphere continues in our academic spheres, education, far from being the greatest resource of mankind, will become an agent of destruction!”

Education is a continuous process, from womb to tomb, and education with culture can alone bring about the positive transformation. True education is that which inculcates in the students the noble qualities of truth, devotion to God, discipline, compassion and sense of duty. What is the use of possessing high intelligence if one lacks virtues? Intelligence should be coupled with virtues.The purpose of education should not revolve around the acquisition of a pre-determined set of skills, but rather the realisation of one’s full potential and the ability to use those skills for the greater good of society.

 

What is ‘Education’?

The word ‘Education’ has been derived from different Latin words, the most popular being – ‘Educare’ which means ‘to bring out’ or ‘to nourish’. Education gives happiness in the worldly sense, whereas ‘Educare’ helps man to achieve the true goal of life – Self-Realisation. ‘Educare’ can also be termed as Spiritual Education which can be acquired by self-enquiry, and it brings out the latent sacred qualities inherent inside the heart and puts them into practice. Worldly education which is related to the head is subject to change but values like truth, forbearance and compassion, originating from the heart will not change.

Mahatma Gandhi stressed that morality and righteousness should be an essential part of education, so that knowledge and spirituality form an integral part of what they learn. He said that, on the one hand, when students should gain education under the strict regimen of high morals, self-control, and right thinking; on the other, they should also be expected to provide service to the society in general. This includes respecting one’s parents, teachers and elders, loving one’s children, following social traditions and constant awareness of one’s duties and responsibilities. In short, education should cultivate individual character, professional excellence and social responsibility. Education must provide “life-building, man-making and character making” abilities to develop an integrated personality – one who has learnt to sharpen his intellect, purify his heart, balance his emotions and stand firm on moral virtues and selflessness.

Aristotle said, “Educating the mind, without educating the heart, is no education at all.”

To change the way we treat education, we need to shift its focus. According to a UNESCO study, “the physical, intellectual, emotional and ethical integration of the individual into a complete man/woman is the fundamental aim of education.” Any amount of ‘knowledge transfer’ will not be successful, if it does not help with translating values into a daily reality.

The question of the hour is, “Should we teach moral and ethical values to our children in our schools and colleges?” Most people would say, “Yes!” since everyone perceives the problems that plague the contemporary society due to bankruptcy of morality in individual and community lives. Therefore, the need for teaching of moral and ethical values in schools and colleges is paramount. The Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget, Lawrence Kohlberg, so many other psychologists and educationists have put forward various methods for inculcating values among students. Value education is a matter of ‘training of the heart’ and consists in developing the ‘right’ feelings and emotions. Value education involves developing the ability to ‘think’ in terms of values, the ability to ‘say’ the right thing, culminating in the ability to ‘do’ the right thing.

In 2015, in their endeavour to work towards transforming our world, world leaders adopted the “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” and the accompanying Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Among the 17 SDGs and 169 targets, Target 4.7 specifically acknowledges the importance of holistic and transformative education, highlighting the importance of education for sustainable development, peace and global citizenship.

A large part of Sri Sathya Sai Baba’s transformational work has been in the area of education. He is a vociferous proponent of the adage, that education offered free of any charges can be a transformative ideal, that can have far reaching effects on the way of life, attitudes and relationships. In the last 50 years, He has carefully incubated and developed values-based, integral education which is being viewed as one of the few frames of reference on offer, for any meaningful reform in the current education system. Some of the key facets of the educational system He has built are its rural focus, empowerment of women through education for girls, and the deep connect with the timeless spiritual and moral values, which are the essence of all the religions. Today, over 5000 students, both boys and girls, benefit from this format of education, rooted in the traditional, timeless values of yore.

 

About the Conference:

The Global Education Conference 2019 with the theme “Values-Based Education – For a Better World’, inspired by Sri Sathya Sai Baba, aims to gather educationists from around the world, who will deliberate on how and why a values-based system of education is the need-of-the-hour.

The three-day Conference will be held at Muddenahalli, a picturesque part of South India, about 30 minutes from the Bangalore International Airport. The Conference will focus on:

What is Value Education?

Strategies to inculcate value education into daily life Manifestation of the inherent latent qualities

Values-Based Education – to promote a spirit of service, sacrifice, and character