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We encounter young people where they are at, encouraging the development of all their human resources and opening them up to the meaning of life.
‘The Dimension of Education and Culture’ is intimately related to ‘the Dimension of Education to the Faith’. Education is the medium for offering the Good News that takes flesh in real culture and calls for gradual absorption that leads the young person to integral maturity.
Through the Dimension of Education and Culture, the Salesian Youth Ministry ensures an all-round educative growth to the young. Effort toward developing the talents of the young has yielded desired results. Action plan and its application to apply the Salesian Educative Pastoral Project (SEPP) to draw out their deepest aspirations and to cultivate a desire for the ‘Transcendent’ have been positively observed.
Apart from the syllabus, classes, and exams what are the other elements of Education to make it HOLISTIC? Freedom to express ones feelings, thought pattern, desires, aspirations, talents, goals, anxieties etc (Expressive system of Education Vs. Repressive system of Education) This is the first concern in education - Freedom - a precious gift God has given to all human beings. This freedom must be educated to become Responsible Freedom - Guided Freedom -Freedom to do good and not evil. Education without this element incorporated in it is not true education. Forced acceptance of discipline will never last - sooner or later it will be discarded. A person should learn to distinguish between good and bad through guidance - using the gift of reason each individual is endowed with. This freedom to choose good and avoid evil, if reinforced and repeated becomes habitual. That is what we call Character Building. This freedom admits failures - but failures are turned into opportunities for learning. This freedom reinforces healthy self-awareness, self-acceptance and self-respect.
This process is rather difficult for the educators but highly beneficial to students. (DON BOSCO)
Emotional balance: Survey conducted among school heads, teachers, parents and students reveals that this element is least addressed in schools, but very essential for holistic growth of students. Individual accompaniment through regular counselling and helping the students to understand and proper expression of these emotions through input sessions is needed.
Recreational activities like games, music, dance, celebrations should be well distributed throughout the academic year and not squeezed into the first half of the academic year devoting the second part to intensive academic coaching. Even higher class students need reasonable time for recreation. Alternating serious work with reasonable relaxation is a patented style of Don Bosco's method of education. Properly supervised recreation offers immense opportunities to mould young people. These activities should be well organized, so that students look forward to them with eagerness.
Co-curricular activities must be given due importance and must be organized with goals to be achieved clearly in mind. Elocution, debates, plays, skits and exhibitions (Bible, science, social issues etc.,) must be well planned, conducted and also evaluated to see how effective they are. There is not much benefit in conducting them just for namesake.
Leadership among the students must be cultivated through groups and movements. These activities must be planned, executed and evaluated by the students themselves, of course with the guidance and help of proper guides who know how to respect the freedom of students.
Various leaders appointed like SPLs, ASPLs, class leaders, captains etc should have regular meetings to evaluate their performance and find remedies for problems they meet with. Leadership courses must be conducted for them in the beginning of the academic year.
One of the best ways to train boys to think, plan, organize, evaluate and re-launch is getting them involved in the process of forming the EPP.
What are the elements of Preventive system well practiced in our settings?
Family Spirit, friendly approach, welcoming spirit (Though it has slowly eroded), offering variety of opportunities to develop talents and leadership, importance given to Catechism (though there is a lot of room for improvement), feasts celebrated with enthusiasm and proper preparation (though the religious preparations are down played in some places), punishments are more reasonable in general.
How far do we provide Quality Education for the Poor and the Marginalized?
The poor in our institutions do get quality education. But they need a greater thrust regarding good grounding in languages, both English and Tamil with greater stress on English. They need more training to gain self-confidence, self-reliance, decision making, facing interviews etc. In selecting teachers, the first criterion for selection should be merit. It would be better that we train our own Salesians, good at language and communicative skills to teach that subject in rural schools. In the past they had tremendous success in grooming competent students
How do we promote culture in our settings?
When we speak of Education & Culture, we often fail to take note of the obligation of education to form and transform culture. The EPP of each institution should pay conscious effort to include this in the plan. This calls for a very clear view of the cultural ambient in which the institution functions and classify the positive and negative elements in that ambient. Then strategies are to be planned as to how the institution is going to first make students aware of these and then help them to grow stronger in the positive elements and how they are going to get clear of the negative ones.
How do we help the young to identify humanizing elements of our culture and promote them?
Good elements like wishing people, thanking them, saying sincerely sorry when offending or injuring others, listening to others, sharing things with others, having consideration for others, respecting and appreciating the opponents in competitions etc should form essential part of instructions both collectively and individually. This is one of the most effective result of genuine accompaniment.
There are other controversial issues like respecting elders and obeying them but without subservience. This forms a very sensitive and tricky issue to tackle as there are those who insist on traditional approach and others (especially the teens) who revolt against it. This issue needs delicate handling through parents meet (individually and collectively) making use of experts in the field of psychology etc., and through counselling.
How do we help the young to identify the dehumanizing elements of our culture and eliminate them?
Cultural roots are very strong and extremely sensitive issues. Hence, patient education of teachers and parents are essential especially in tackling negative issues. Issues like respecting all religions, eradicating caste, gender and racial discriminations fall under these categories.
There are others which evoke indifferent attitudes in some classes of people. For example social indifference to people suffering from poverty, unemployment, under employment and exploitation of employees. There is also the question of child labour and lack of facilities for education etc. The best way to educate the students regarding these issues is to facilitate live encounters (like slum visits, visits to prisons etc.,) or at least provide other forms of visual encounters to make the students come to grips with these realities.
A graded approach from lower standards to higher standards can give powerful transformative impetus to the students even leading to determination in some of them to do something for the under privileged. Organizing 'Good Samaritan Days' is the bare minimum an institution may do with often very poor transformative value.
What would you suggest to form our youth more effectively in our culture?
The most effective way of inculcating cultural values is having a healthy 'Campus Culture'. Ours being a Catholic Institution, this culture must reflect Gospel Values. It can be prominently displayed in the institution together with its vision and mission statements. Just displaying it will have no effect unless it is effectively practiced by all, especially those who run the institution. For example it will be of no value that the display declares honesty as its best policy if dishonesty is quite evident in its dealings!
DON BOSCO SCHOOLS – CHENNAI (INM) 2017-2018
(STATISTICS AS ON 25.10.2017)
Encountering with the young, encouraging their integral maturity.