Thursday 24th November 2005

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Education our way

More than 700 teachers gathered for the Hindu teachers’ convention at the Maha Sabha Headquarters, St Augustine, on November 11. Feature speaker was Prof Ramesh Deosaran and director of school supervision Roland Maharaj represented the Minister of Education.

On behalf of the Maha Sabha Education Board of Management, I reminded teachers of our humble beginnings and the contributions they have made to develop quality education:

The Maha Sabha began its contribution to the education sector in 1952 with the establishment of six primary schools. Since then we have expanded to 43 primary schools, five secondary schools and 15 preschool centres.

Over the years we have focused a tremendous amount of our resources on the school plant and personnel as we sought to produce students of the highest calibre from our institutions. Our schools are today among the best in the country.

Our teachers are the best in the land. Our administrators (principals and vice principals) lead the way in many areas of education. And today, I want to pay tribute to the invaluable contributions of our teachers and principals within the Maha Sabha education system.

Over the years we have sought to upgrade our staff with relevant training in principalship, teaching and learning. Among the many courses/workshops conducted by the Maha Sabha the following stand out:

“Managing the School,” conducted for us by the Industrial Development Corporation in 1993; the “Principalship” (1995) and “Teaching of Religious Education in our Schools,” conducted by the Pandits’ Parishad in 1997.

“Conflict Resolution and Problem Solving” was conducted on behalf of the Maha Sabha Education Board by Dr Rampaul in 1998, while a course on “Lifelong Learning of the Principalship” was managed by the IOB (UWI) in 2003–2005

It is our view that in the partnership between the Maha Sabha and the State, the State has its own training programme but we must also play our part as an education board of management.

As part of our thrust in this direction, we have set up a review team to examine the performance of our schools on an individual basis. The aim is to enhance the performance in all schools. Recommendations have been forwarded to my board and we are in process of studying the contents.

The Maha Sabha shares the view that the academics cannot be taught in isolation in our schools. We believe that culture and religion must form the foundation of our educational drive. The secular and the sacred are inseparable. It is for this reason religious instructions and culture form the cornerstone of our education system.

In this regard, we have developed the Baal Vikaas Festival and other programmes in our schools. These programmes now serve as the bedrock of our educational success.

Dr Shanker Deyal Sharma, deceased president of India, in his collection of speeches (Horizons of Indian Education) wrote:

“There is no science without sublimity and no education without enlightenment. A totally materialistic world is like a paper flower. It may last longer but exists without natural fragrance and an inner potentiality to multiply its message. Unfortunately, our modern education system is like this paper flower.”

I want to make it abundantly clear that in the selection of teachers and principals, while we accept the conditionalities on academics as agreed to with the State, we look for additional qualities in our staff—religious ideals, support of board activities, cultural capabilities and community involvement.

For us, a principal or teacher is much more than an administrator or provider of education for its children. He is an icon in his own community, a leader in his own right. He is on the front line of the Maha Sabha.

The Maha Sabha will continue to be ever vigilant in its quest for excellence. We will ensure that every child within our system gets the best that the system can offer. Our schools were built for that purpose and it is our duty to see that our principals and teachers deliver on that promise.

Children tend to learn more from the hidden curriculum than the written curriculum. When a teacher stands in front of a class, the children learn and pattern a great deal from the teacher in terms of dress, speech, deportment and mannerisms. How a teacher dresses sends a lesson to the children.

It is unfortunate that some people who purport to speak on behalf of teachers are themselves improperly attired. They could be mistaken for vagrants.

A case in point is last week’s diatribe by a past teachers’ union leader who we thought was not dressed as a teacher but sought to attack the integrity of the denominational boards of education. He must understand that the majority of primary schools are owned and operated by these boards who account for more than two-thirds of the children attending primary schools.

You have our thanks and blessings!”

SATNARAYAN MAHARAJ is the Secretary General of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha



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