A NATIONAL SYPOSIUM ON THE HEART OF EDUCATING INDIA DON BOSCO SYSTEM OF EDUCATION In DIALOGUE WITH 21ST CENTURY EDUCATORS
G.K. Chesterton with his proverbial sense of humour affirms: “The main fact about education is that there is no such thing. Education is a word like ‘transmission’ or ‘inheritance’, it is not an object, but a method”. It is the avenue that one generation opens up for the next, so that the latter may advance in the knowledge of the human and cosmic reality, and thus make its own contribution to the evolving process of being truly and fully human.
This requires, as M.K. Gandhi would underscore, that education be “an all-round formation drawing out of the best in the child and a person – body, mind and spirit”. In a similar vein, Don Bosco would add that education is a matter of the heart and is founded on reason, religion, and loving-kindness.
Inspired by such pedagogical visions, a National Symposium on “The Heart of Educating India” was organized by Don Bosco Youth Animation – South Asia, New Delhi, and Sacred Heart College, Tirupattur, Tamil Nadu at Don Bosco College, The Citadel, 45, Landons Road Kilpauk, Chennai – 600 010, Tamil Nadu, India on the February 16th – February 17th, 2018. As the title suggests, on the one hand we wish to focus on the ‘heart’ and ‘art’ of the educational process, and on the other, consider ‘India’ as the subject and referent of the educational endeavour.
The subtitle of the symposium highlights the four-fold objectives: to analyse the present system of education in India; to explore the alternative systems of education in India; to revitalise Don Bosco’s system of education and in this way to possibly evolve orientations and strategies to enhance the present system of education in India.
More than 250 delegates participated in the national symposium. More than 30 resource persons were present to enlighten and have a dialogue with the delegates. The Heart of Educating India: Don Bosco system of Education in dialogue with 21st century Educators was an attempt on our part to initiate a quality dialogue among educators on this important theme of the ‘heart’ and the ‘art’ of educating India.
The two-day symposium witnessed well-prepared keynote addresses by Rev. Dr. Maria Arokiam Kanaga, Salesian Regional Councillor for South Asia who spoke about Returning to the Basics of Education and Dr. Balakrishnan, Former Director of CBSE, who spoke about the Future of Learning to the delight of the delegates.
The first panel consisting of Dr. Uma Sivaraman, Former Deputy Commissioner, Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS), Dr. M. J. Xavier, COO – Karunya University and Former Director – IIM Ranchi, Dr. Thathireddy Vijaya Bhaskar, President, Don Bosco Network in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, Ms. Pooja Agarwal, Director, Nature Nurture and Dr. Prabhakaran, Principal of KCG College of Technology under the moderation of Mr. A.R. Panneerselvan, Reader’s Editor, The Hindu discussed about the relevance and adaptability of existing curriculum; existing skills of Teachers and the needs of the next decades; use of Technology- Potential vis-a-vis actual usage; Assessments- competency, skills, attitudes and outcomes and the Institutional readiness in the light of the rapid changes affecting technology’s impact, societal change and balancing knowledge and skills development.
The Symposium had 15 research papers presented and out of which nine of them were by the Salesians of Don Bosco. The topics included Philosophy of Don Bosco System of Education; Don Bosco’s Educative System: Harbinger of Today’s Transformative Learning Theories; Don Bosco’s Multiple Skilling Method; Contributions of the Cultural elements in Don Bosco’s Pedagogy; Finland’s Model of Education as an Alternative System in India; Inclusive Education among others.
Rev. Dr. Francis Vincent, Professor from Salesian Pontifical University had presented part of the findings of an Online Survey done in Don Bosco Schools in India by Radboud University, Netherlands and the Salesian Pontifical university in collaboration with All India Don Bosco Education Society (AIDBES) titled ‘Leadership and Discernment in the Educational Context.’ He vividly outlines various traits of Don Bosco School Leaders.
The second panel consisting of: Mrs. Gita Jagannathan, Owner and Director, APL Global School; Dr. R. Kishore Kumar, Senior Principal, St. Johns International Residential School; Dr. Albert P. Rayan, Head, Higher Education, KCG College of Technology; Dr. J. Henry Rozario, Director, EXODUS Research and Development Pvt. Ltd;
Mr. Ganesh Sadasivam, Director, Teego Solutions discussed about Fast Forwarding Education: Making it Happen! They dwelt on: What strategies and policies practically work and are likely to have the greatest positive and lasting impact on teaching-learning & overall quality improvement; How can the significant amount of data that Education Systems often produce be converted into compelling information and actionable insights for the Institutes? And accelerating teaching quality, balancing skills and knowledge-based education, and creating compelling cases for investment in education and how we can expect these to play out in the coming year?
A lively workshop on Creative Leadership was conducted by Professor Vivekananda and he highlighted the leadership qualities every Principal and a Teacher must have! Dr. Henry Rozario and Rev. Dr. Antony Raj helped to bring out the key elements that the delegates would put to practice back in their settings. Rev. Dr. John Alexander summed up the proceedings of the Symposium with certain key areas as ‘way forward.’ The Symposium concluded with National Anthem.
Good education leads to global citizenship and practice of democracy. We must be concerned about how learning happens in India and how can we make it happen? These are the questions we need to resolve. Should we be changing the discourse on education?
To foster a culture of creativity and innovation that makes us want to ”think in India” we need to overhaul our educational focus and philosophy. We need new paradigms and key characteristics to change the system of education in India.