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Values Based Education for our children

          

1.0 Preamble

This white paper is put together to understand the requirement for urgent implementation of Value Based Education (VBE) in our schools, efforts being made by various educational organizations, the status of such efforts, identify the gaps, and find solutions for a long lasting impact of Value Based Education. Although, the discussion will be more in the context of Assam, it will be applicable for the rest of India as well.

The note has been prepared based on information available in the public website to initiate a debate on the subject amongst the concerned and the knowledgeable persons across the state.

We tell all our children how they have to work hard to achieve good results in their school tests and examinations. To be successful in life, we have to be good at whatever we do. However, in the present world, we, the society, put too much emphasis on the school curriculum and the examination results, although I cannot deny the importance of these requirements in a child’s life. We teach our children that to be successful in life, we must have a good degree to get a good job, or do business and then make money, any which way we can. This is where we go wrong. I do not want to emphasize this point any further, since we all know about it, but we try to live in a status quo without doing anything.

On the subject of VBE and or Life Skills (LS), we generally talk about two (2) sets of skills beyond the academic curriculum;

-          A Skill set which improves student’s personality, self esteem and self confidence; improves skills like sports, music etc.

-          Another Skill set encompassing universal ideals of truth, love, peace, respect, tolerance, forgiveness, responsibility, compassion, simplicity, co-existence and non-violence”.

Note that VBE and LS are not interchangeable terms – they have different connotations. Life skills are more to do with easing out conflicts that the child may come across – problem solving and being creative in nature. VE has the connotation of doing what one ought to do and being more responsible and compassionate.

It is recognized that VBE needs to be all encompassing; practiced across the whole school, engaging all teachers, parents and the community. It must not be treated as a separate subject scheduled for an hour or two in a week. VBE should be the child’s way of life, at schools and at home. To be a complete, successful person, a child needs to be taught to embrace all these three; academic development, personality development and the character development. It is important to note that the personality development and the character development are complimentary to each other.

To implement VBE one would also need to include other stake holders apart from children - as the child is often exposed to conflicting value systems in different arenas _ school, home, society - and this can create an ethical dilemma. While this paper HAS taken into account parent engagement, the HOW and HOW MUCH is an area that needs deliberation - and will vary between government and private schools because of the diverse parent profile. 

2.0 Steps taken by CBSE and NCERT

The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) have been making efforts to re-introduce Value Education (VE) into the curriculum. NCERT had set up a National Resource Centre for Value Education (NRCVE) in 2000. In 2002, it launched a “National Program for Strengthening Value Education.”

The CBSE had introduced Life Skills in classes VI and VII in 2003 and by 2005 had extended it up to class X. They not only have a set of lesson plans for teachers of the subject but have also introduced the concept of Value Based Integrated Learning (VBIL) wherein all lessons are linked to some “value”. The Integrated approach or the Multidisciplinary approach ( enabling chidlren to see the lateral connections between subjects ) is gaining ground and VE is also being linked in as part of the process. However, it has a long way to go and teachers still tend to look at subjects as water tight compartments rather than an integrated whole with underlying values.

This is an area that can do with tapping and enhancement and offers good scope for improvement.

However, 12-14 years since the NRCVE had been set up and 10-12 years since the CBSE sent out its directive, that schools should devote at least 2 periods a week to Life Skills, it is still quite unclear about the situation on the ground. While the NCERT and the NCF have stated " WHAT" needs to be done  , the " HOW" has not been laid out in great detail. Therefore , text book publishers and schools follow a very broad guideline and generally follow a laissez faire approach that varies from school to school and region to region. The schools that come under the CNI or CSI have some designated time slots and materials / text books. But the others are less or not structured at all.

3.0 The Process

It is probably correct to accept that the values cannot be taught, they can only be imbibed. But, the question is how to accomplish this in a structured manner. The following process seems to address this subject, which considers three (3) different perspectives; the logical, the philosophical and the cognitive.

The logical perspective:

If teaching is the giving of instruction or is intended to impart knowledge or skill and if it is done through discussions, experimenting, lectures, demonstration/modeling, role playing etc., why isn’t it possible to use the same methods for VE/LS?  The knowledge content would relate to universal concepts like honesty, respect, compassion etc., and the methods used would be the same as is used for other subjects.

To teach values, the teacher would need to ‘walk the talk’ and be a good role model. This, in other words, is ‘demonstration’.

The philosophical perspective:

As stated earlier nothing can be taught, it can only be learned, and the teachers have to facilitate the process.  Whether it is Math, Science, English, Music or Values, the methods would remain the same.  The responsibility of the teacher increases manifold and the need for good role models becomes an absolute necessity.

The cognitive perspective:

It has been said that nothing has been taught unless it is learned. How learning takes place?

Based on the Learning Pyramid from National Training Laboratories, Bethel, Maine, USA; the average student retention rates are identified as follows:

  • Teach others - 90%
  • Practice doing - 75%
  • Discussion - 50%
  • Demonstration - 30%
  • Audiovisual - 20%
  • Reading - 10%
  • Lecture - < 10%

The focus should be on finding good role models who will use modern teaching methods to teach values, and help children become capable of making better choices in life. The key points are:

# Schools need to join hands with parents.

# Children need a role model with whom they can discuss issues which confuse and confound them, on even a weekly basis. It will be important to identify this role model, either as a separate counselor or any designated teacher(s). The plan should consider training all teachers on VBE over a period of time.

# Selecting teachers with a specific set of skills, interests and aptitudes (from amongst existing staff) and training them to make best use of the resources available? As stated earlier, giving rotating responsibility to each teacher and training them in the process will address this issue.

# Make VE classes something that both, teachers and students can look forward to.

One of the important aspects of implementing all these processes will be to learn management of time within the given constraint. Also, the parents and the students must not feel that their attention is being taken away from the “primary” objective of achieving academic excellence. This can only be achieved when VBE/LSs are treated at least as equal, if not more, to the requirements for academic excellence.

4.0 What is the way forward (in context with Assam)?

# The initial effort should be to identify a group of people, who would have some of the following perspectives:

1)      would like to be a stakeholder to promote this effort,

2)      would have knowledge of the process (as planned by the educational bodies, and others),

3)      would have knowledge of implementing VBE,

4)      Would be willing to sponsor this effort across Assam, financially, logistically, or otherwise.

# Initiate discussions and create a plan, based on agreed steps forward. Some of the possible questions are outlined below for initial thoughts;

a)      Clarity on what needs to be done on VBE (based on guidelines from the National/State educational bodies, both mandatory and voluntary)

b)      What recommendations are currently being implemented in all schools and to what extent (Private / Government schools)

c)      What are the gaps? VBE education for teachers / parents / students / community members)

d)      How much the parents/ community organizations/Parental engagement)

e)      Creation of a data base for few selected schools, in some of the major cities and few villages, covering few government schools and some private schools.

# Prepare a Plan to initiate/revitalize VBE (short term / medium term / long term)

·         List out the activities

·         Sort out short/medium/long term activities

·         Identify resources (manpower / materials / finance)

·         Interface between various organizations

5.0 Societal Responsibility

The success of implementing Value Education amongst children and seeing positive impact of this learning in the society at large are solely dependent on the life practice and the behavior followed by the parents, and everyone around in the society, be they are professionals, bureaucrats, government officials or the politicians. As long as we, the elders continue to take short cuts in our lives only for personal gains (amassing wealth by clandestine means), measure success of someone by his wealth and/or positions, and we continue to tolerate and embrace corrupt politicians and officials; it would be extremely difficult to lead our next generation towards a new path. This is, by far the biggest challenge in the whole process.

 

Compiled by:

Hiren Sarma

4443 Huntwood Hills Lane, Katy, Texas 77494, USA

+1 (281) 395-0824 Res.

+1 (832) 925-1147 Cell

e-mail: hiren_sarma2000@yahoo.com