04 Sep, 2023

Assam development Initiative ADI & Value based Education VbE project

Assam Development Initiative (ADI)

and

Value-based Education Project

                         Hiren Sarma

                          Houston, Texas

 

Assam Development Initiative (ADI), a registered trust in Guwahati, has been involved in the implementation of the "Value-Based Education and Child Development" project at several schools in Assam, including one of the leading schools in Kamrup Metro, Guwahati Refinery Higher Secondary School.

First, it is good to briefly explain what Value-based Education is, especially its need in the current social context, and the difference between so-called Value Education and Value-based Education. In the current education system, Value Education refers to the teaching of certain so-called moralities prescribed by the government in the classroom once a week. It has been proven in all countries of the world that such Value Education is never sustainable. On the other hand, the primary objective of Value-based Education%u201D is that the entire school community will develop a list of values according to the needs of each school and all the activities of the school will be based on these values. It is very pleasing that the Government of India has also recognized this need in time and from 2020 onwards, all school curricula in the country are being prepared keeping Value-based Education in mind.

The decline of values is a much-discussed issue not only in Assam or India but all over the world. One thing to understand, however, is that values are not static, they are very dynamic over time. However, there are some universal and eternal values, such as truth, justice, peace, non-violence, love, etc., on which Value-based Education programs can be developed.

According to Dr. Neil Hawkes, a renowned educator and pioneer of Value-based Education in England, the two main pre-requisites for the participating schools are to be deliberate and systematic in implementing the project. We are very grateful to our former advisor Dr. Pradeep Barthakur for his assistance in developing an eight-stage project implementation methodology. A particular significance of the project is that it involves the entire school community through its formulation process. Here, 'school community' is defined as the school management committee, the principal, all other teachers and staff, parents, and students. The support and encouragement of the Local Government Education Officer (School Inspector) is highly recommended.

Below is a schematic of the three-year pilot project process. It is essential for the success of the project that the 'School Values Team', the teachers, and the staff take the lead in carrying out the project hands-on with the guidance and support of the ADI Project Team. Since the class teacher is the main link between the students and parents in their respective classrooms, the class teacher has a lot of responsibility in this regard. And they should form a 'Classroom Values Team' for this purpose. 'School Values Teams' or 'Classroom Values Teams' should consist of a team leader, a few other teachers (perhaps more in school teams) and a few parents.

Currently, in addition to the Project Director, ADI has a consultant and three Field Coordinators directly involved in the Value-based Education project. The President and Managing Trustee of ADI provides oversight of the project as required. The project receives assistance from experts and advisors and recruits volunteers on an ad hoc basis as needed. Field Coordinators are face-to-face in schools at least three days a week and always interact with all teachers and staff including students, principals and participate in various daily activities.

Here is a quote from an internationally recognized American psychiatrist, the late Dr. William Glasser, who is the creator of Choice Theory and best known as the author of Reality Therapy, a psychotherapeutic method he created in 1965. He defines an Effective Teacher as one who convinces almost the entire class to do quality work rather than just a few self-motivated students. Based on this definition, the project often reminds the teachers about this concept. It is heartening to see that there are some teachers who consistently work towards this principle, although the numbers are very few. In this regard, the project is thinking about the possibility of creating a special cell of social workers to help students who are falling behind for various reasons. These workers will be able to join the ADI Field Coordinator and associated teachers on home visits to talk to students and parents about how they can help.   

 It is a pleasure to note that according to our Field Coordinator Shri Kinkar Bora, there has been a significant improvement in various areas especially in cleanliness, discipline, and performance of responsibilities due to the regular efforts of several teachers at Refinery Higher Secondary School. In addition, several lady teachers have taken the lead in mindfulness practice, although this effort is still limited to a few teachers and a few classrooms. It is extremely important that all stakeholders participate in values activities to benefit themselves as well as the whole school community in this kind of development and make it sustainable.

Here are some of the teachers' opinions from Guwahati Refinery HS school about the project:

# Innovative, VbE is a project that benefits all exceptionally well; encourages and helps the students and the teachers for self-improvement through a new and systematic process. We appreciate the far-reaching thinking of the founder Hiren Saarma and thank you for offering such a project in our school.

Mrs. Jayshree B. Talukdar, Principal, Guwahati Refinery Higher Secondary. 

# The Value-Based Education and Child Development Project implemented by Assam Development Initiative has given us a new dimension by launching it in good faith at our Guwahati Refinery Higher Secondary School, through which we have an opportunity to learn to understand ourselves and integrate with our students. Everyone in this project has been supporting us and I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone in the VbE project.

Mrs. Meenakshi Devi, Teacher, Guwahati Refinery Higher Secondary. 

# From 2017/18, ADI has been working with our school. is involved. The project team is doing a wonderful job trying to instill moral values in students in a variety of ways. The life skills counseling and mindfulness program organized by this group have helped both students and teachers.

Mrs. Leena Burman Sharma, Teacher, Guwahati Refinery Higher Secondary.

Finally, it is worth mentioning that the success of this project and the possibility of expansion across the state (may be the country) depends largely on the leadership of the headmaster and the dedication of all teachers but also is equally dependent on the participation of parents and all other people in the society (professionals, bureaucrats, educators, journalists, employees, or politicians), their mindsets, own lifestyles, and manners. Since taking up the project, I have been making it very clear that as long as we elders are busy making money and fame in easy and dishonest ways for our own interests, we judge someone's achievements in society only by wealth or job position, we blindly tolerate the corruption of some of the politicians, we cannot expect to inspire our new generation with Value-based Education and take them forward in new ways. I think this is the biggest challenge in the whole process of implementing Value-based Education.

(a version of this article was published in Assamese in the annual magazine of Guwahati Refinery Higher Secondary school).

 

Introduction of the author:

Hiren Sarma is a retired project manager for Shell Oil Company in Houston. Sarma, co-founder of ADI, is currently the Chairman and Trustee of the institute. In the past decade, he has published two collections of Assamese stories and two detective novels, as well as acted in several plays and an Assamese film. The project Value Based Education and Child Development launched under Sarma's patronage in 2017/18 and is currently in various stages of implementation in several schools in Assam. At Houston, Sarma serves as a Director of the Foundation for India Studies FIS Board, a no-profit 501 (c3) organization.

hiren_sarma2000@yshoo.com Tel. +1-832-925-1147. 

September 4, 2023

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