Imparting human valuesBY S. INDRAMALAR
IT is quite common to hear children talk animatedly about computer games, television series or pop idols, but community service, caring and sharing?
At the recent Sathya Sai Educare Awards ceremony, graduating students of the Sathya Sai Central Council of Malaysia's Education in Human Values (SSEHV) programme shared their experiences.
Tharshini Arumugam said: “I was only eight when I started attending the classes. Thanks to the programme, I have learnt to listen to my inner voice or conscience, and this has helped me to differentiate between right and wrong. The programme has also developed my leadership skills as I am now better able to focus on my school work and everything else that I do.”
Another student, Anusha Aravind, 17, agreed. She said: “The classes have helped me in many ways. For instance, I have learnt to mix with people and to work as a team through participating in the class activities. The moral values taught have also helped me to see the importance of (community) service, the value of sharing and caring, and the need to accept people as they are.
“More importantly, I have learnt to be patient, to have self-confidence and be positive about things,” she added.
The event also saw eight teachers receiving Lifetime Exemplary Teachers Awards for having served tirelessly on a voluntary basis to teach SSEHV classes.
On hand to present the awards was AmBank Group Chairman, Tan Sri Azman Hashim, who was presented a special award for his active contribution to society.
The SSEHV programme is aimed at children between the ages of seven and 15. Weekly classes focus on instilling basic human values such as truth, right conduct, peace, love and non-violence in children, to make them realise how these values are essential in character development.
Through lessons and activities such as dramas, debates and service activities, children learn how to deal with everyday situations without compromising on basic values. The children are also taught to believe in God and to follow the religion of their birth or choice.
Lest people expect the programme to miraculously “transform” their chidren, former SSEHV student and now a teacher in the programme, Anushia Jegathevi, said the programme basically laid a foundation for children to start their lives with.
“The programme teaches values and skills. However, every individual has the right to choose to either follow the values taught or veer off in another direction,” she said.
Another former “graduate” Ayishwariya Menon agreed, adding that often, the benefits of the class are only felt years later.
“For me, it was not until after I had spent a year in England that I really understood what the programme was trying to teach me. In England, I was on my own and no longer under the watchful eyes of my parents. I had to be independent and responsible for my actions. In this liberal age, it is sometimes hard not to bow to external pressure but somehow the lessons I learnt when I was 10 helped me make the right decisions. They were etched a little too well to forget,” said the 19-year-old who is currently studying biomedical engineering at Imperial College in London in the United Kingdom.
Parent Tan Dea Dy said: “I found the SSEHV most useful in providing spiritual guidance for my children. It has given them an inter-cultural perspective as they mix and discuss issues with children of other races.
“Sometimes we thought they were not paying attention but we later realised that they were slowly imbibing the values taught. Once, when he was still in secondary school, my son Chung Zen stood up for a classmate who had been punished for an act he did not commit. We were proud that he knew the value of righteousness,” she said.
Tan’s three children are still currently attending the classes.
The Council was established in 1983 and is a non-sectarian and non-profit organisation dedicated to the promotion of human values and selfless service.
SSEHV programmes have been conducted throughout the country for more than two decades, with more than 5,000 children and young adults having gone through the programme to date.
Classes are conducted free of charge at various centres and venues nationwide.
For more information, contact the Sathya Sai Academy at 03-2274 4827.