|Education in Human Values Program in India|
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Sathya Sai Baba as the founder of the Human Values Program
The consensual guidelines emanating from the Mini-Conference of Teacher Trainers in Bal Vikas and EHV from overseas Centers and India, held in Prasanthi Nilayam from 19 to 24 November 1993 stated that the name of Sathya Sai Baba must be identified as the founder of the Human Values Program at all times. The actual words used in the circular of recommendations put out by Indulal Shah, the Chairman of the World Council of the Sai Organisation were as follows:
The requirement of always associating the name of Sai Baba with the Human Values Program is necessary so that the nature of the Program can be identified. For example, one refers to the ‘Rudolf Steiner’ system of education or the ‘Montessori’ approach when describing the principles involved in those forms of education.
It is important however to be clear on one thing: the aim of the Sathya Sai Human Values Program is the "fostering of human excellence" in the child and teacher/parent. The purpose of the Program is not one of ‘converting’ people to become devotees of Sai Baba; nor does it require the children in Community EHV classes, and in clubs and schools using the Program to follow a particular religious path or to regard Sai Baba as divine.
It is likely that most of the school teachers who decide to integrate the five Human Values into their day-to-day curriculum will not regard Sathya Sai as divine, and the same would apply to most parents of children who will be attending Community EHV classes, in no sense is there a desire to change their religious orientation.
Questions will of course be asked, such as, "Who is Sathya Sai?" and "Is EHV part of a religion?" It can be said in reply that Sathya Sai Baba is regarded as the world’s foremost educationalist. He is the founder and Chancellor of the Sathya Sai University, which is regarded by the government of India as the model for all other universities to aspire towards. He is also the founder of a number of primary and secondary schools and colleges throughout India, which are regarded as the models of excellence by federal and state education authorities in India. He is the Architect and Director of the Sathya Sai Human Values Program worldwide.
It is important to note that the Sathya Sai Organisation is not a new religion. Rather, its membership comprises people from all of the world’s major religions. Sai Baba has specifically encouraged His followers to continue practicing their chosen Faith, utilizing His teachings to become even better Christians, Moslems, Hindus etc. He said:
Divine Discourse, 4-7-1968
Although the Sathya Sai Human Values program is not part of a new religion, it does encourage all of its participants, whether students, teachers or parents, to take up a spiritual life. In fact, accepting the words of Sai Baba that "God is in every cell as life and in every atom as activity", is the founding requirements for involvement in the program, as is made clear in the next section.
Education in Human Values Program (EHV) in Schools
The Sathya Sai Human Values Program for schools has evolved mainly in India, with other countries following about a decade later.
EHV in schools – India
The content of Bal Vikas education became better defined when all-India discussions were held in 1970, 1971 and 1975 to look into planning, grading and sequencing the material to be taught.
These attempts to bring uniformity to the Bal Vikas program throughout India set in motion parallel development in Sai Education which was more concerned with introducing the principles into the State and National educational field at all levels.
Already a number of well-established schools and colleges, whose founders, governing boards or principals had become aware of Sathya Sai Baba, were experimenting with uplifting the moral and spiritual fibre of their teachers and students. Many such institutions invited Sai Baba during the 1950’s and 1960’s to visit and give an address. His advice to the students was both practical and uplifting. At the B.Z. High School, Chittor in 1958, He said:
Divine Discourse, 3-3-1958
In those early years, Sai Baba was already indicating the character-shaping philosophy that should underlie all education. To the students at another High School in 1958, He said:
Divine Discourse, 2-2-1958
In these early talks there was already repeated reference to the four Human Values of Peace, Love, Truth and Right Conduct (Shanti, Prema, Sathya, Dharma), with occasional reference to the fifth Human Value of Non-violence (Ahimsa). In later discourses in the 1980’s the five Values were drawn together to become the foundation stones of the Sathya Sai Human Values Program and the Bal Vikas classes.
The philosophy underlying Sai Baba’s vision for education continued to unfold in each talk He gave to students, teachers and parents.
Over 30 years ago He was challenging the economic rationalization of Indian and Western education policies. In many ways Baba was stating the obvious: that a child needs to learn much more than how to prepare for paid employment, other wise the child’s later years would be wasted in solely selfish pursuits. In September 1963 at the Maharani’s Women’s College in Mysore, Sai Baba said:
Divine Discourse, 12-9-1963
By the early 1970’s Sathya Sai Baba had begun to establish a number of primary and secondary schools and colleges throughout Southern India which were conducted totally according to the guidelines that He laid down for the ideal form of education. Research over the following years convincingly demonstrated that the children who attended these educational facilities developed more positive personalities. That is, they were more respectful to their parents, elders and teacher; they were more law-abiding, more caring and tolerant, more willing to give voluntary service; and they worked harder and produced better academic results. In November 1981, referring to the philosophy underlying these institutions He had founded, Sathya Sai Baba said:
Divine Discourse, 6-11-1981
The example being set by the schools and colleges utilizing the Sathya Sai Education in Human values (EHV) Program soon captured the attention of politicians, industrialists, scientists and educationists throughout India. The call for a change to the existing education systems went out. In response to this demand, the first central training of trainers for primary school teachers took place in 1984 at Prashanthi Nilayam, with Sai-devotee trainers for primary school teachers attending from 10 states of India. Later in that same year a nation-wide program for training primary school teachers in the Sathya Sai EHV Program was launched. Every teacher attending the training course was supplied (without charge) with relevant materials: stories, details of teaching techniques, evaluation procedures and so on.
The EHV movement continued to gain momentum in India. In the November 1984 issue of Sanathana Sarathi it was reported that the Delhi Municipal Corporation had decided to bring all the primary schools run by it under the EHV Program. This involved 5,45,000 children with 15,000 teachers. Even before training of the teachers began each school was instructed to introduce prayers of all religions and two minutes of silence every day.
In 1985 the State of Madhya Pradesh had requested that the Sathya Sai EHV program be introduced into its 60,000 primary schools. In the same year the Sri Sathya Sai National Board of Education was set up. It conducted an EHV workshop in May 1986 that was attended by principals and headmasters of 300 schools in 16 states of India. These 300 schools were adopted by the National Board for development into ‘model’ centers of excellence in providing integral education. The program was extended to 3000 schools by 1988, and in due course the scheme was extended to all of India.
By 1989 more than 35,000 primary school teachers had been trained in India and most State governments had formally accepted and adopted the Sathya Sai Education in Human Values Program for their school systems. It is to be expected that, in the not too distant future, all teachers in India, whether at the primary, secondary or tertiary level, will be trained in the Sathya Sai EHV Program.