I recently decided to take a break from buying newspapers. A startling admission from a newspaper columnist, to be sure.
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NEW EDUCATION COMPONENT
“The ancient Indians had precisely designed a most efficient psychological model for the interactive roles of the teacher and the student—a model that would best facilitate transference of knowledge and experience from one mind to another and ensure the productive, constructive use of that learning by the student. The position of the teacher was accorded a very high status. With high status, accountability was also determined: the teacher had to bear responsibility for any sins of his student.”
Dr Shankar Deyal Sharma, deceased President of India.
The Baal Vikaas Vihaar was introduced in the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha Hindu schools 28 years ago to ensure the preservation and transference of our culture and religion. Over the period we have faced many challenges and have successfully overcome all obstacles as we seek to transmit Hindu culture, religious practices and traditions to our future generations. This programme, which consists of chanting, singing, dancing, music, drama, art, craft and public speaking and performances are done in the Hindi, Sanskrit and English Languages. Children are also taught the effective use of the available communication technologies—TV and radio. In our effort to be self-sufficient in mass communication, the Maha Sabha has established a radio station by the name Radio Jagriti and we have also established a television station by the trade name, Jagriti TV.
The objectives of this religious programme in schools are sixfold:
• To create an environment of respect, tolerance and harmony for students of all cultural and religious beliefs.
• To complement the schools’ curriculum and assist in the holistic development of the child.
• To reinforce positive moral and social values among all the youths.
• To provide an avenue for pupils with special skills to work in harmony.
• To provide an opportunity for the community and school to work together.
• To encourage greater participation in Ramayan singing, folk singing, local classical singing, Hindi, slokas from the Bhagvad Gita etc.
The Continuous Assessment Component (CAC) has now been introduced by the Ministry of Education into the primary school system and we embrace the changes to the curriculum as it relates to the development of visual and performing arts. Our pupils have been involved in visual and performing arts at the Hindu schools for more than a quarter of a century and they have attained extremely high standards of excellence through the Baal Vikaas Vihaar. These components are now being reflected in the CAC programme and we believe that our children are well poised to enter this new dimension of holistic education. We must emphasise that secular education and religious education must be propagated as an integrated programme. The Hindu schools have been successfully demonstrating this as the Academic Performance Index (2005-2012) shows. All the SDMS schools have attained rankings in the top performance bands of “mostly effective” or “excelling.” This means that based on the results of the National Test (2012), the SDMS schools are satisfying their mandate of providing quality education to the children of the nation.
The Baal Vikaas programme in schools witnessed the 2013 finals (June 8 and 9) at Vishnu College Auditorium. Rio Claro Hindu School won the top award among large schools while Tulsa Trace Hindu won the smaller school category. Excellence in education at our schools is accomplished in an atmosphere of prayer and humility. At the SDMS schools, the pupils begin the day with prayers followed by instructions in morals and values. We realise that an educated person who cannot empathise and assist his peers is indeed a handicap in a developing society as ours. We, therefore insist that both secular and sacred education must be taught to children attending our schools. Education and the search for knowledge is one of the ideologies to which all Hindus aspire. The secular and sacred knowledge must be available to all our children. This year’s Indian Arrival Celebration was dedicated to the Hindu scriptural text, the Ramayan, written by Tulsidas. In our religious programme children are tested on their knowledge of the verses.
In Chapter 4, Verse 33 of the Bhagwad Gita, Bhagwaan Shri Krishna explains to Arjuna:
“Shreyaan dravyamayaad yajnaat, jnaanaya jnah parantapa
Sarvam karmaakhilam paartha, jnaane parisamaapyate”
—“O Arjuna, sacrifice through knowledge is superior to sacrifice performed with material things. All actions, without exception, culminate in knowledge.”
Our success in propagating our religion and providing quality education depends on dedicated pundits, principals, teachers, parents and members of the communities who have all worked tirelessly to ensure the very highest standards of excellence. I wish to commend all who have contributed to the holistic development of our children and I urge them to strive for even greater degrees of excellence. Since its inception, teachers and parents have financially assisted this Baal Vikaas programme. We also wish to recognise and thank Republic Bank for funding this school programme with a grant of $250,000 annually for the last four years.