Value Education In Youth Ministry

Isaac Arackaparambil sdb

On the eve of New Year 2010, I was in Pransla, a remote village about 65 kms away from Porbandhar. The Universal Solidarity Movement of Value Education for Peace (USM) of Fr. Varghese Alengaden and team had invited me to give a talk at their 41st KNIT INDIA programme. It is an annual national meet where schools all over the country which are associated with USM send their students for a USM family live-in, and it serves as a follow-up to the activities initiated by this movement in these schools. There were 11 schools that came from places like Nanital, Uttarakhand, Allahabad, Agra, Secundra, Lucknow, Ujjain, Raisen, Vidharba, Ahwah and Jolikot. It was a beautiful experience where I witnessed first hand the fruits of USM ministry with youngsters. They were students from 7 to11 standards belonging to diverse faith traditions of India. What impressed me most was the enthusiasm, the maturity, the motivation, and the focus of these school going youngsters. The entire programme was geared towards inspiring enlightened leadership and responsible citizenship. The students reciprocated our inputs with openness and eagerness to make a difference. They were concrete in their resolutions for self-transformation with a dream to transform the world. Their own testimonies of personal transformation in the process of cultivating the spirituality of this movement ever since it was initiated in their schools, served as great inspirational value for all the participants.

I have been actively involved in the ministry of value education since the last three years in my capacity as director of our animation centre Amrut Dhara in Gujarat. My humble assessment of the receptivity that I experience from the students and teachers of our own schools is that they tend to be very distracted and unfocused. It would be unfair to blame them for this, and is an invitation for us to do a little soul searching. My observation is that we do, and we get our teachers to do a lot of activities with our youngsters (sports, drama, music, tuitions, coaching, homilies, good morning and good night talks, value education classes, etc) but they often end up as activities with no clear focus. The students may pick up skills that help them become confident and expressive, but it does not necessarily determine whether they are able to articulate a vision for life. Value education is treated as one more academic subject for which exams are conducted. After conducting value education seminars, and teacher training seminars, I keep wondering what the effect is on our own students and teachers. I often get the feeling that our own students and teachers, unlike others, do not really value the programmes but go through the movements as though one more programme was organized, one more good morning or good night talk was delivered, and ‘we had to sit through it’.

What we need in our province, is to clarify our vision by which we have a clear cut agenda as to where we want to take our youngsters, in this case those who are schooling in our institutions. The same can be said of all kinds of ministry. We need to create systems of follow up specially in regard to value education or other training seminars, something like the KNIT INDIA programme. We have been tying up with companies as a follow up to the training we give in the technical sector of our work. We have roped in experts to guide us while going through the PSP-PRA process. These are bold and valuable initiatives and are bearing very good fruits. The need of the hour in my opinion is to tie up with people who already have follow-up systems in place when it comes to the domain of vision orientation and value education. One such partner I would like to suggest is the Universal Solidarity Movement of Value Education for Peace. Since our PC 2010 intends to draw up the structural plan for the province for the next 5 years, a good initiative would be to invite the USM to animate us at all levels: confreres, teachers and students. The province of Calcutta has already moved in this direction. What’s stopping us?

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