1. Sources who can help introduce Value Based Education: VBE has now been made an integral part of the New Education Policy 2020. Let us look at some sources which can help the schools translate the idea into mainstream schooling through regular workshops. Some years back Ministry of HRD had set up National Resource Centres for Value Education (NRCVE) of NGOs from different Religious faiths, including IIT D, IIM L and some well-known and reputed NGO’s. These NGO’s can be a useful source in helping schools to set up action plans, workshops, material, etc. NCERT should be able to help schools contact them. NCERT has also brought a book “Education for Values in Schools – A Framework”. UNESCO has a book: “Learning – The Way of Peace – A Teachers Guide to Peace Education”. IGNOU had a DEP-SSA project which brought out a book “Effective Classroom Processes – (a resource book)” in which Unit 7: “Self-development among Teachers and Students”, deals with various self-development practices. CBSE has a book on Life Skills Education, ClassVI. There are many other sincere NGOs.
2. The Five Human values are integral part of all Religions: Inter alia the 5 universal values specifically mentioned in NEP 2020, are “Truth, Peace, Non-violence, Love, Righteous conduct”, based on previously identified values in other government reports. These 5 values were being taught by various NGOs and Sai International Centre for Human Values had brought a series of books on various Religions and the Five Human Values. Thus, material on various religions and values is already available; and workshops have been conducted by the various NGOs, for many Principals of Kendriya, Navodaya Vidyalaya, Sainik schools, Army Public schools, IAS and senior Police Officers, etc. Schools can request the NRCVE to help in nurturing the young towards being good, better best, so the children imbibe love for country, it’s ideals, values, thru universal prayers. The Supreme Court has also talked of these five values and held that:
· Value based education is likely to help the nation fight against all kinds of prevailing fanaticism, ill-will, violence, dishonesty, corruption, exploitation and drug abuse.
· Curriculum in schools have to develop key qualities like regularity, punctuality, cleanliness, self-control, industriousness, sense of duty, desire to serve, responsibility, enterprise, creativity, etc.
· Although not the only source, religion is a major source of value generation. What is required is education about religion, their basics, values inherent in them, and comparative study of philosophy of all religions.
UNESCO asks: Are we giving adequate attention to teach peace? Are our schools really interested in producing a peaceful young generation? And remark: Those who want ‘war’ (consumerism, sex, violence, drugs, lower pleasures and entertainment) prepare the young for war; but those who want peace have neglected training the young for peace.
3. During early childhood, instead of focusing only on ABC, 123, the major focus should be on inculcating good habits, values, discipline, manners, care and concern for each other, being helpful, learning to share, being friendly, doing their duties, clean, simple hygiene. This is the age to imbibe thru’ good stories, fun, playful activities, human values of truth, love, ahimsa, righteous conduct, peace, etc. This is also the age of getting into the good habit of starting the day with prayers, being worshipful, experiencing joy of silence, respecting parents, elders, teachers; expressing silent gratefulness and thanks, wishing everyone to be happy, peaceful, joyful, etc.
Childhood care and education is not for learning; but is the time and age for imbibing habits, values, disciplines, punctuality, timekeeping etc., helpful in building character and commitment to being good and doing our duties. Learning is secondary.
4. Freedom of Choice: Of all things and beings in the universe, freedom to choose is the greatest gift, given only to human beings. However, with the gift of freedom of choice comes responsibility. There’re no free lunches, and so this ‘gift’ is a double-edged sword and we must learn to choose wisely and not foolishly for short-term immediate pleasures. In our traditional culture the very purpose of schooling was to awaken our Viveka, to choose wisely, the long-term good and get established in the habit of daily self-development practices, prayers, meditation, yoga, inspirational-scriptural-studies, worship, etc. to build ability, strength, powers of mind to walk-the-talk; the often difficult path of discipline, ethics, righteous conduct, etc., the ‘road less travelled by’.
5. Doing what we want is not freedom, but slavery! It is slavery to our mind, our wants, our desires, which may not be for our long-term good; may not be in accordance with righteous conduct or our swadharma, respective duties!
Freedom really means, not having to do what we want to do. This means, when faced with choices, we’ve the wisdom to look at various choices, and the freedom to not follow our selfish short-term-pleasure-giving-desires, and then choose that which we feel is long-term good for everyone.
6. We need to reflect:
· Are education and science superior to spirituality, wisdom and character?
· Is education of today producing men of character and wisdom?
· Are educated people virtuous, full of goodness, committed to their swadharma?
· Has freedom of choice given to everyone equally, been a good or bad experience?
· Or have they allowed people to rise to their levels beyond their character and competence?
Has freedom of choice and equal opportunity to all, produced good political leaders, professionals, business men, workforce, of character? Don’t we see that modern education, bereft of spiritual orientation, has given rise to corruption, greed, inefficiencies? Don’t we see that stung by modern IQ, 3R’s, education, our workforce is no longer getting skilled, but are looking for sarkari jobs, for status, perks, time to laze! Don’t we see that ‘work is no longer worship’; even organizations now exist for profit to stakeholders, not to solve the problems or serve the genuine needs of society! Thus, VBE is really a MUST.
7. Conclusion: Implementing Value Based Education is our modern challenge and is an opportunity for Religions to show their ability to work together with academia to create enlightened citizens for the good of the nation. Let politics not divide us into opposing sides!
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.