Bahai Activities in Christian Nations Part 2

Selected Baha’i Social and Economic Development Projects prepared by the Office of Social and Economic Development May 2003

This document provides an overview of some of the more substantial development activities undertaken by Baha’is worldwide.  Each description is based on the information available at the Baha’i World Centre at the time of its preparation and may not reflect the current status of the project.

Nancy Campbell Collegiate Institute (NCCI)

Ontario, Canada

The Nancy Campbell Collegiate Institute, located in Stratford, Ontario, Canada, is an accredited private international school for boys and girls in grades 7-12.  NCCI fosters academic achievement within a clear moral framework consisting of nineteen moral capabilities, a concept gleaned from the Moral Leadership Program of Universidad Nur in Bolivia.  Examples of these capabilities are:  learning from systematic reflection upon action, building unity in diversity, and cultivating and creating a sense of beauty in every endeavor.  The school’s Performing and Visual Arts program nurtures artistic talents and develops confidence and skills.  One feature of the program is a dance workshop that has toured internationally, dramatizing social issues such as substance abuse, domestic violence and peer pressure.  Nancy Campbell Collegiate Institute is affiliated with the Wildfire Outdoor Education Centre, an 85-acre forested site that conducts programs intended to inculcate in students a sense of environmental responsibility.  In 2002, NCCI had a limited enrollment of 200 and an academic staff of 12.  The “Report Card on Ontario’s Secondary School’s:  2001 Edition,” published by the Fraser Institute in Canada, placed NCCI among the sixteen institutions that achieved the highest ranking in academic performance in a study of 815 of the province’s public and private secondary schools.


The Virtues Project

Canada

The Virtues Project was started in 1991 as an initiative to empower individuals, families, and communities to live by their highest values.  It has been well received even in remote areas because it addresses the virtues and principles common to all religions.  Its methodology rests on a strategy for influencing behavior through language, and on learning about virtues from daily situations.  Five texts are used as the basis of programs in schools, day-care centers, corporations, diverse faith communities, and traditional cultural settings.  Beyond Canada, where it originated, The Virtues Project has been implemented directly or has inspired similar approaches in Australia, Russia, Malaysia, Bermuda, the Solomon Islands, the United States, and elsewhere.  In  the past few years, in the Solomon Islands, training sessions for teachers, government leaders, university students, and villagers were complemented by a “Virtue of the Week,” based on The Family Virtues Guide, that appeared as a weekly column in the national newspaper and was partially financed by the Canada Fund.  In Moses Lake, Washington, in the United States, individuals responded to two tragic school shootings with a “Virtuous Reality” educational campaign that involved students, city businesses, and civic organizations.


Instituto Regional Baha’i

Mapuche Region, Chile

The Instituto Regional Baha’i is located in the town of Labranza, in southern Chile.  The vision of the institute is the integrated development of the community and the enrichment of the culture of the Mapuche, the largest indigenous group in the country.  Its projects include the Faizi School, a primary and secondary school that offers boarding facilities for girls; the Muhajir School, a primary school with extracurricular activities in literacy and horticulture; a model organic garden project; and a radio station.  Established in 1986, the station broadcasts to more than 100,000 listeners in the Spanish and Mapuche languages on topics related to agriculture, health, ecology, and basic education; it has special programming for women and children.  The work of the teachers at the Faizi and Muhajir Schools has received recognition by the regional government.  Staff at the schools prepare curricula for the education of children, as well as materials on topics such as gender equality for use in radio broadcasts.  Contributions were made, for example, to the radio station’s adult literacy program, which is sponsored by the Ministry of Education.  A model agricultural project, overseen by the Faizi School, is a pilot site for testing innovative organic gardening methods that involve pest control, worm breeding, and composting.  The project serves as a center for experimental horticulture for families, which encourages households to introduce vegetables into their diet.


Fundacion para la Aplicacion de Ensenanza de las Ciencias (FUNDAEC)

Colombia

Fundacion para la Aplicacion de Ensenanza de las Ciencias was established in 1974 in order to provide alternative strategies for rural development in Colombia.  It dedicated its efforts to the creation of the rural university, defined as a social space in which the inhabitants of a given region would learn about the path of their own community development.  This evolved later into a number of programs in various parts of the world, under the umbrella of the University for Integral Development.  The methodology of the university is to focus on the processes of social life in a region–for example, production, marketing, decision-making, education, and socialization–and set in motion for each a parallel learning process, which includes research, action, and training.  The processes which have received the greatest attention and for which valuable knowledge has been generated are:  formal education, systems of production on small farms, rural agroindustry, and microenterprises.  In education, the most successful of FUNDAEC’s endeavors is the secondary education program known as Sistema de Aprendizaje Tutorial (SAT).  SAT has received governmental certification in Colombia and has spread beyond its borders, reaching over 40,000 youth in Latin American countries through sponsorship by nongovernmental and grassroots organizations as well as government agencies.  FUNDAEC has also established a four-year tertiary program in rural education and a specialization called “Education for Development.”


Fundacion Jayuir

Colombia

Fundacion Jayuir, formally established in 1993, is dedicated to developing educational programs for the Wayuu people, an indigenous population of some 130,000 individuals living mainly in the border area between Colombia and Venezuela, along the Guajira Peninsula.  By March 2000, the Foundation was assisting 70 primary tutorial schools in Colombia and 20 in Venezuela with a combined enrollment of about 2,200 students.  Jayuir provides training, materials, administrative support, and a small stipend to the Wayuu teachers who serve at the schools, many of whom are young people.  Every year, a number of festivals are organized at which students from the schools in both countries come together for a program of contests, games, and shows to display their newly acquired literacy skills, to promote the native culture through arts and crafts, and to allow teachers to share experiences about the establishment and operation of tutorial schools.  In addition to sponsoring tutorial schools, the Foundation also supports a number of other activities.  A secondary-level program, Sistema de Aprendizaje Tutorial (SAT), is taught at the Jayuir Educational Center in Riohacha and is offered to the Wayuu teachers.  The New Garden School, also in Riohacha, is partly funded by the Colombian government, has classes from the preschool level to fifth grade, and in 2002 had an enrollment of 226 students.


Ruhi Foundation

Colombia

The Ruhi Institute, established in 1974, is an educational institution of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Colombia.  Its purpose is to develop human resources dedicated to the spiritual, social, and cultural progress of the people of that country.  The institute’s courses are widely used in Colombia and in many other parts of the world.  In order to strengthen local communities and provide training ground for those in its programs, the institute initiated a series of social and economic development activities in the 1980s.  The growing complexity of these endeavors led to the registration of the Ruhi Foundation as a nonprofit organization in 1992.  It is now one of the “participating organizations” in the University for Integral Development, coordinated by Fundacion para la Aplicacion y Ensenanza de las Ciencias (FUNDAEC) in Colombia.  Presently, the Ruhi Foundation oversees such activities as the establishment of schools and a corresponding teacher training program, ecological camps for junior youth, and a program for empowering youth through literacy called “Conquering the Word.”  By 2002, seventy kindergarten and primary-level schools had been established with enrollments totaling over 2,600 students.  Between 2000 and 2002, five ecological camps were held throughout the country with close to 160 youth participants studying courses on the environment.  The Foundation also supports a number of youth from all over Latin America, especially its indigenous areas, who are pursuing FUNDAEC’s university-level program leading to a degree in rural education.

Instituto del Ecuador

Ecuador

In addition to providing courses for the development of human resources, the Instituto del Ecuador operates three social and economic development projects, namely, Radio Baha’i of Ecuador, the Raul Pavon Baha’i School, and the Higher Studies Program.  Radio Baha’i, the first Baha’i station in the world and the only one in the country to transmit in both Spanish and Quechua, was opened in 1977; today it reaches thousands of people in the region around the town of Otavalo in the province of Imbabura.  The station’s broadcast schedule includes community news, public service announcements, traditional music, and shows in support of its basic courses for human resource development in the region.  The Raul Pavon School was established in 1984 as a preprimary and primary school, later adding a secondary program.  Most of the school’s enrollment is indigenous, and about twenty percent of students receive scholarship assistance.  In 1997 the European Union financed the construction of a facility, enabling the school to move out of borrowed quarters into its own premises.  The Higher Studies Program offers a baccalaureate degree in rural education that emphasizes fieldwork.  At the start of 2002, thirty-five students were enrolled in the program, which is monitored and assisted by the Centro Universitario de Bienestar Rural of FUNDAEC in Colombia.


Varqa Foundation

Guyana

The Varqa Foundation grew out of a variety of social and economic development efforts undertaken for more than a decade by the Baha’is of Guyana.  After its establishment in 1994, the Foundation was engaged in projects for community health.  Currently, the Foundation operates two major initiatives:  “On the Wings of Words,” a literacy and character development project, and “Youth Can Move the World,” a youth empowerment program.  Both are based on curricula that were prepared by the Foundation.  “On the Wings of Words” consists of a set of courses tailored to promoting reading and comprehension among junior youth.  In 2001 over 2,000 volunteer facilitators from all over the country had been trained to help more than 10,000 young people develop their literacy skills and reflect on moral and spiritual concepts.  Through its “Youth Can Move the World” program, the Foundation works with agencies and youth groups around the country to promote participation in community transformation.  The program addresses such problematic issues confronting young people in Guyana as the use of drugs and alcohol, suicide, prejudice, poverty, and HIV/AIDS.  Support from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and UNICEF has enabled Amerindians from isolated parts of the country to be trained in the program.  It was estimated that by July 2002 “Youth Can Move the World” had reached some 4,000 youth.


Asociacion Bayan

Honduras

Asociacion Bayan, formerly Bayan, started in 1985 as a small rural hospital in Honduras in the Department of Gracias a Dios to serve the Miskito and Garifuna peoples.  Other early endeavors pursued by Bayan included a community health worker training program, a mobile clinic, and a community water, sanitation, and health education project.  Efforts to address the problems of the region grew in complexity until, in 1994, Asociacion Bayan was established as a nongovernmental organization to give a more formal structure to these activities.  In the late 1990s, the management of Hospital Bayan, by then a clinic with modest surgical facilities, an ambulance service, and an X-ray machine, providing medical care for a small fee, was entrusted to a partnership made up of Asociacion Bayan, the government, and the community.  The agency turned its attention to the field of education, embarking on a major initiative to introduce into the region the secondary tutorial program Sistema de Aprendizaje Tutorial (SAT).  This sizable project has received support from the Kellogg Foundation, the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID), and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).  By May 2001, more than 500 students were enrolled.  The program has since been formally recognized by, and received funding from, the national government.  The organization is now working to extend SAT to other parts of the country.


Badi School

Panama City, Panama

The Badi School held its first classes in a rented home in the San Miguelito area of Panama City.  The school opened on 22 March 1993 with a total enrollment of 14 students:  7 in preschool, 2 in kindergarden, 5 in first grade.  Gradually, subsequent grade levels were added to meet the needs of the community and permanent facilities were acquired.  An ongoing teacher-training program ensures that Badi School’s code of ethics–based on such principles as the oneness of mankind, equality of men and women, harmony of science and religion–permeates every aspect of the school environment.  The curriculum integrates moral values into most of its subjects.  For example, students learn to strive for excellence in reading and writing with materials that help develop an awareness of the need for sound ecological practices.  In an effort to strengthen family unity and involve parents in the supervision of their children’s schoolwork, Badi School provides regular orientation meetings for the students’ parents and friends.  The computer lab at the school also serves local women in the area who take night courses at minimum costs to improve their technical skills.  By 2002, Badi School had 235 students enrolled in a complete elementary program up to the eighth grade and had opened a branch with 53 students in the town of David.


Ngobe-Bugle Baha’i Institute

Chiriqui Province, Panama

The Ngobe-Bugle Baha’i Institute has grown out of the Guaymi Cultural Center that was established in Panama in 1982.  The institute strives to combine traditional wisdom and culture with modern knowledge in an educational curriculum appropriate to the Ngobe-Bugle people inhabiting the country’s Chiriqui province.  For example, in 1993 the institute began research on traditional processes of production and experimentation with new agricultural practices in order to improve the health and economic stability of the people in the region.  The institute seeks to realize its vision by promoting a number of integrated programs:  a sequence of courses for the training of human resources that focuses on youth and junior youth (12-15 year olds), cultural and folklore festivals, a network of tutorial schools, a secondary education program known as Sistema de Aprendizaje Tutorial (SAT), and a radio station.  The radio station is the only one in Panama to broadcast in both Spanish and in the Ngabere language.  By 1999, seven tutorial schools served by thirteen teachers were supported by the institute, which provides funding, teacher training, and curricular materials.


Children’s Enrichment Program (CEP)

United States

The Children’s Enrichment Program began as the response of a group of concerned community members to the civil unrest that took place in Los Angeles, California, in 1992.  In an effort to address mistrust among racial groups and the resulting violence, the group organized a program of character education for elementary-school children that is offered in after-school and summer school classes.  The mission of CEP is to help children embrace their role as meaningful contributors to society as its helpers and healers.  CEP’s curriculum, entitled “Full-Circle Learning,” focuses on influencing both attitude and aptitude.  Its educational model uses character education as a springboard for academic and arts enrichment, conflict resolution, and community service.  CEP’s students are routinely evaluated for academic improvement; in 2001, of those who participated, all had increased their ranking in the national percentile for reading, while 84 percent had increased their ranking in spelling and math.  Parents are encouraged to become involved in their children’s learning by sponsoring such activities as fundraisers and skit nights, serving on the parent advisory board, and making policy recommendations.  In 2002, Los Angeles Unified, the nation’s second-largest school district, adopted CEP’s curriculum, and that year CEP opened three new sites in the Gadsden School District in New Mexico.


Children’s Theater Company (CTC)

United States

Founded in New York City in 1989, the Children’s Theater Company is a nonprofit organization that uses the arts to address character education, multi-ethnic cultural interaction, good citizenship, conflict resolution, and literacy.  With the assistance of professional artists, teachers, and volunteers in the community, CTC provides weekly classes and rehearsals in drama, dance, music theatre, and a variety of art forms for some 100 children aged 4 to 13 from diverse cultural backgrounds.  The classes culminate in staged productions and exhibitions expressing such principles as world peace, unity in diversity, and racial harmony.  Each season CTC celebrates certain annual United Nations theme days, for example, Race Unity Day, World Environment Day, World Religion Day, and International Day of the World’s Indigenous People.  Talented young people from CTC have been invited to perform in television programs and at conferences.  In May 2002 members of the Children’s Theater Company participated in a concert for some 1,000 world leaders held during the United Nations Special Session on Children.


Health for Humanity

United States

Health for Humanity is a nonprofit development organization, incorporated in the United States in 1992, that promotes initiatives for public health and social well-being through three main strategies.  Regional networks enlist volunteers in a number of states in the United States to engage in such local initiatives as after-school tutoring and character development classes, efforts to promote English literacy among preschool children in a predominantly Spanish-speaking community, wellness clubs, and smoking cessation programs.  An international exchange program deputizes members, mostly clinicians, to share their expertise at a range of health endeavors in countries around the world.  For example, in 2002 a program was carried out in Chengdu, China, to assist in the rehabilitation of children with cerebral palsy.  Heath for Humanity also collaborates with health organizations in other countries to help build capacity, exchange knowledge, and strengthen public health programs.  During its partnership with the University of Tirana Eye Clinic in Albania, from 1992 to 1999, for instance, the number of patients seen in the outpatient clinic increased by a factor of six, and the introduction of modern techniques of eye surgery caused the number of surgical procedures performed to triple.  In collaboration with the African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control in Cameroon, Health for Humanity is training a network of health facilitators in a program to eradicate river blindness among the tens of thousands of persons at risk.


Institutes for the Healing of Racism (IHR)

United States

Started in 1988 by two Baha’is from different racial backgrounds, the Institutes for the Healing of Racism are a network of grassroots agencies and informal groups that host workshops to address the psychological, historical, social, and emotional connotations of racism with the aim of promoting racial harmony.  The workshop format has two parts.  One allows individuals to share their personal experiences, providing insight for all participants into the operation of prejudice and institutionalized racism.  The other builds commitment to promoting unity and working for the oneness of humankind.  Discussions are guided by facilitators trained to encourage camaraderie and openness among the participants.  Scores of workshops have been established in North America, Europe, and Australia.  Such efforts may be organized as independent groups, or as programs for the healing of racism in existing institutions such as churches, schools, government agencies, or businesses.  For example, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, programs have been set up by the Chamber of Commerce, high schools and local colleges, and the Grand Rapids Bar Association, among others.  In 2002 an initiative called the Center for the Healing of Racism in Houston, Texas conducted workshops for hundreds of individuals.


Tahirih Justice Center

United States

In 1996 a seventeen-year-old from Togo landed illegally on United States soil while fleeing an arranged marriage and the threat of imposed female genital mutilation.  Before she could enter the country, she was stopped and detained without the protection of law afforded to refugees in the United States.  Through the efforts of a student attorney, the young woman obtained political asylum, and her case made legal history by establishing a precedent for women to receive refugee status on account of gender-based persecution.  Out of this experience, the Tahirih Justice Center was created in 1997 to serve women, in particular immigrants and refugees subjected to human rights abuses.  Founded on the conviction that empowering women is a fundamental step to achieving a just civilization, the Center provides legal, medical, and social services to those it can help.  Legal assistance is offered through any one of the Center’s three main programs:  the Gender-Based Political Asylum, Immigration, and Human Rights Project; the Refugee Women and Girls Advocacy Project; and the Battered Immigrant Women Advocacy Project.  A number of physicians collaborate with the Center to make medical services available without charge to those who require them.  An associated referral program offers psychological counseling, literacy classes, English instruction, day-care services, job skills training, and housing assistance.  The Center’s statistics show that, between 1997 and 2001, some 1,800 women and girls received support and legal protection.


Instituto de Educacion Moral (IEM)

Venezuela

Formed by a group of professional educators in 1994, Instituto de Educacion Moral is a registered civil association whose mandate is to stimulate alternative approaches to moral education.  IEM pursues its vision through three main strategies:  conducting workshops and seminars at schools and universities; creating educational materials for children, teachers, and parents that emphasize moral conduct and cooperation; and monitoring an Internet discussion forum for parents and educators.  In the 2001-2002 school year, eleven workshops were conducted involving teachers from a number of schools who were trained by ten facilitators.  In collaboration with the Centro de Asistencia al Maestro, an educational institution in the state of Lara, IEM held a number of well-attended seminars on such topics as “the road to world peace.”  As a result, the Board of Education of the state of Lara has accepted one of IEM’s programs for implementation in 40 schools.  The schools have taken steps to include moral education in their academic curriculum, have organized events to strengthen this effort, and have enlisted the support of parents.  Included among IEM’s activities is a 40-hour, university-level course conducted at a number of tertiary institutions for which support lessons are provided through its Web site.  By 2000, IEM had published teachers’ guides for elementary school grades 1-3 and middle school grades 7-9, printed a book with 90 cooperative games, and circulated a quarterly newsletter.  Through its Internet services, IEM supports the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World proclaimed by the United Nations.


Asia

Rahmanian Foundation

Bangladesh

The Rahmanian Foundation operates a hostel for boys, the Rahmanian Academy, which was established in the city of Rajshahi in 1999 through a philanthropic contribution.  The Foundation’s vision is to empower junior youth to become agents of change in their communities and moral leaders in society.  Beginning with thirty 11 to 15 year olds, the Academy has expanded, through the support of the community, until, by 2002, it housed over sixty young people.  In that year the Academy had three full-time and several part-time staff who had received training in Baha’i principles of education from the Foundation for Advancement of Science in India.  While living at the hostel, the boys attend a local school, and during their free time participate in a number of activities organized by the Academy that are intended to build their capacities and improve their skills, such as tutorial sessions in academic subjects, sports, and service projects.  Some of the older students, representing a variety of religious backgrounds, have formed junior youth groups in the surrounding villages.  In the summer of 2002, tutors trained by the Foundation helped 63 students at a village high school to complete their study of the text Drawing on the Power of the Word, which focuses on language skills and spiritual empowerment.  The effort was received warmly by students and staff of the high school.


Cambodian Organization for Research, Development and Education (CORDE)

Cambodia

The Cambodian Organization for Research, Development and Education started in 1994 and is now officially registered with the Cambodian Ministry of Interior.  CORDE focuses on providing educational programs to Cambodia’s many children deprived of access to the country’s public school system.  Boys and girls of diverse religious backgrounds attend CORDE’s tutorial classes in the rural regions near Battambang and Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s two largest cities.  The implementation of courses for training tutors and the development of a curriculum have contributed to the steady growth of the program.  By June 2002, approximately 50 tutorial classes were serving nearly 1,400 children in daily classes offered free of charge in a number of villages.  The children are taught reading, writing, moral virtues, and mathematical skills in the context of community service.  Since 2001, some of the tutorial schools have evolved to become Centers of Learning that offer a variety of courses intended for all age groups.  With the help of collaborators, CORDE has also carried out successful campaigns in the areas of community health education, agriculture, reforestation, and vocational skills training that have  reached hundreds.  For example, in 2000, the organization undertook an initiative in dental hygiene that involved 3,870 children in four primary schools.


Barli Development Institute for Rural Women

Madhya Pradesh, India

Since 1985, the Barli Development Institute for Rural Women has provided a variety of courses and activities for rural and tribal women in the state of Madhya Pradesh.  A major component of the institute’s program is its six-month and one-year residential courses intended to combine spiritual education with instruction in practical skills:  literacy, marketing, primary health care, vegetable gardening, tailoring, and batik making.  Participants learn how to put such principles into action as the equality of women and men, and the use of consultation to resolve family and community issues.  At environmental training camps women are taught to use solar-powered equipment and to promote environmental consciousness in rural communities.  Over the years, the work of the institute has received extensive media coverage and public recognition.  In 2002, collaboration with the National Council of Educational, Research and Training (NCERT) resulted in the joint sponsorship of a values education seminar, and in the inclusion of value education materials from Barli’s texts in NCERT’s national curriculum.  By that year the agency had grown to a full-time staff of 18 and had trained over 1,300 women.


Foundation for Advancement of Science (FAS)

India

The Foundation for Advancement of Science was created in 1996 by a group of educators who decided to pool their experience in the fields of education, literacy, and development to serve the rural communities of India.  FAS is primarily concerned with developing human resources to support programs in primary and secondary schools with courses in moral education and English as a second language, promoting reading skills and service to the community among junior youth, and sponsoring graduate-level courses.  FAS also designs and creates curricular materials for its programs.  Its publications include the bimonthly Uncle Hathi magazine for youth that cultivates moral virtues, and such textbooks for urban and rural schools as the “Think in English” series.  Between March 2000 and April 2001, seminars and training programs for teachers and administrators were held in a number of schools in India, as well as in Kuwait, Dubai, Malaysia, and Singapore.  The Foundation’s Junior Youth Empowerment Program integrates literacy with character development and social action.  In 2001, the program was established in ten villages in the vicinity of Lucknow, with 227 participants completing the first course of study.  Higher education is addressed by supporting a few groups that are studying an advanced, distance-learning curriculum entitled “Education for Development” prepared by the Fundacion para la Aplicacion y Ensenanza de las Ciencias (FUNDAEC), a Baha’i-inspired foundation in Colombia.


New Era Development Institute (NEDI)

India

The New Era Development Institute, established in 1987, grew out of a long period of extensive outreach efforts by the New Era High School to promote community development.  Over the years, with the support of the Indian, Canadian, and Norwegian governments, a complete campus has been established comprising an administrative block, classrooms, a workshop, and dormitories.  NEDI’s objective is to prepare young people for contributing to the advancement of their local communities through a program of study that emphasizes personal growth, vocational training, and rural development.  The institute’s curriculum includes courses in moral education, community service and social action, cultural sensitivity, and small business development.  For more than a decade, NEDI’s areas of vocational specialization consisted of training in primary school education, radio and television repair, motor mechanics, secretarial and home sciences, computer operations and office management, and women’s tailoring.  Over 800 rural youth have participated in these integrated training programs.  In recent years, owing to NEDI’s success in training teachers, focus has increasingly shifted to education.  The curriculum for preschool teachers has been published in a series of textbooks, and training sessions have been held to share it with other educational institutions.  NEDI has had a far-reaching impact on the states of Gujarat, Manipur, Sikkim, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra through its work with local providers of community services.  Approximately 70 percent of NEDI’s graduates have either started a business or have become employed in their field, which is a notable achievement in India and one that is reflected in the swelling list of rural youth seeking placement at the institute.


New Era High School

Panchgani, India

The New Era High School, established in 1945 under the aegis of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of India, is one of the oldest Baha’i schools in the world.  At the start of the 2002-2003 academic year, the school had an enrollment of more than 800 boys and girls of whom some 700 were boarding students.  The student body is drawn from over twenty countries and from diverse religious backgrounds.  The academic program extends from primary school through the tenth standard of high school.  A number of innovative approaches to teaching and to administration have been instituted.  For example, moral education curricula are implemented at all levels, and a service program is conducted for students in the higher grades in association with the New Era Development Institute and the primary school’s moral education and cooperative learning program.  New Era’s facilities include seven dormitories, a health center, three libraries, vocational workshops, a number of science laboratories, an amphitheater that seats 1,500, and a gymnasium/ auditorium with a capacity of 550.  The school is a recognized center for examinations for the Central Board of Secondary Education in New Delhi, the General Certificate of Education of the University of London, and the American College Testing Service.


Rabbani Secondary School

Gwalior, India

Established in 1977 near Gwalior in the state of Madhya Pradesh, the Rabbani Secondary School operates under the aegis of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of India.  Its objective is to offer boys from rural communities opportunities for academic achievement, train them in practical skills for rural development, and instill in them high moral standards and a love for service.  Its curriculum consists of a full range of subjects, with an emphasis on agriculture.  The Rabbani campus includes 72 acres of farmland where students learn agricultural skills and grow some of their own food.  The school offers special courses for rural development in such areas as literacy, primary school teaching, community health, poultry farming, commercial forestry, vegetable growing, crop production, and dairy farming.  The skills they acquire enable students and faculty to carry out a variety of service in collaboration with residents in nearby villages involving literacy, carpentry, farming, and health.  Hundreds of children at neighboring tutorial schools have also benefited from Rabbani’s assistance.  In December 2002, at the time of the school’s silver jubilee celebrations, the Rabbani Baha’i School Alumni Association was formed to help channel some of the alumni’s energy and talents into further enriching the school.  In 2002, the school had an enrolment of over 300 students.


Unity in Diversity Foundation

Indonesia

Unity in Diversity Foundation is a development organization with headquarters on the island of Sumatra.  Its aim is to raise the standard of living in remote regions in Indonesia, such as the islands of the Mentawi archipalago, through the education of children.  The Foundation has two major initiatives.  In its Empowering Youth in Child Education project, a group of some twenty young people from a variety of religious backgrounds–Christian, Muslim and Baha’i–receive one year of instruction in how to conduct kindergarten and tutorial classes in subjects like basic English, health practices, writing and reading skills, tree planting, developing creative abilities, and moral education.  As part of their training, prospective tutors teach for a time in government schools.  Graduates of the program are eligible to undertake a year of service in the second project, Educating Children in Remote Villages.  This endeavor aims at bringing the benefits of schooling to children in remote locations.  By the end of 2002, the Foundation had established ten Centers of Creative Education in distant villages at which some 600 children ages 7 to 12 were participating in formal kindergarten and tutorial classes.  The curriculum used at the Centers is designed to encourage children to think creatively, to express themselves through the arts, to master basic academic subjects, to develop a good character, and to serve humanity regardless of race, nationality, religion, or gender.  The work of the Foundation has attracted the support of a number of local government agencies and funding from the government of Luxemburg.


Badi Foundation

Macau

The Badi Foundation was established in 1990 to serve Chinese society by fostering individual and institutional capacities in support of efforts to promote the development of local communities.  Its Social Enterprise Program trains participants to recognize social challenges, to identify principles leading to their solution, and then to take effective action in such areas as the environment and education.  By July 2002 over 250 people, mostly rural women, had taken part in the program’s “Environmental Action” course, and 50 teachers from primary and secondary schools in China had completed its course “Enhancing the Learning Environment”.  At the School of the Nations in Macau, the 2002-2003 academic year started with an enrollment of some 260 students in its regular academic program from kindergarten to the eleventh grade.  The Foundation’s Center for Curriculum Development prepares instructional materials for schools and training programs, including the Hidden Gems series, a three-year, pre-primary curriculum covering character development, sciences, and mathematics, which is used by a number of educational institutions worldwide.  The Foundation also networks with like-minded organizations to create and apply strategies for the development of human resources.  Consultancies carried out have included gender analysis training with the World Food Programme and enhancement of the knowledge of women mayors and entrepreneurs about the environment with the United Nations Development Programme.


Mongolian Development Centre (MDC)

Mongolia

Established in 1993, the Mongolian Development Centre (MDC) is dedicated to empowering individuals and institutions in Mongolia through education and training.  Its areas of focus include capacity-building of families and promotion of child development.  To build up the collective knowledge of families, the Centre offers courses in gardening and in social enterprise, that is, in how to consult, acquire new skills, initiate action, and work together for the benefit of the community.  Instruction in gardening emphasizes use of biointensive methods to grow vegetables for home consumption and for sale.  In 2002, seventy-eight families in the towns of Darkhan and Baganuur took part in community gardening efforts that yielded a total of almost 20,000 kilograms of vegetables.  MDC’s initiatives on fostering and protecting the rights of the child include exhibitions, lectures, and the education of teachers and parents in the importance of moral education as a component of a preschool program.  A set of lessons in character development has been incorporated into the curriculum of six kindergartens, and fifteen teachers, who reach some 1,000 children, have received training in how to use it.  In collaboration with two schools, one children’s center, and UNICEF, MDC also offers a project for young people between the ages of 12 and 15 that strives to enhance their literacy skills, teach them about gardening, and build their capacity for service to their communities.  To reinforce this endeavor, activities are conducted for the parents and teachers of the youth.


Education, Curriculum and Training Associates (ECTA)

Nepal

Education, Curriculum and Training Associates was established in 1997 as a development agency focused on empowering the rural population of Nepal through a range of sustainable endeavors.  ECTA, the Nepali word for “unity,” specializes in preparing nonformal education curricula to build capacity at the grassroots.  One series of courses begins with basic literacy and then presents material on topics such as community banking and managing microenterprises, while emphasizing principles like consultation, honesty, responsibility, and solidarity.  ECTA developed a curriculum and carried out training for the Women’s Empowerment Program that was implemented by Pact, an international non-governmental organization.  This program enabled approximately 130,000 Nepalese women to form and operate 6,500 village banks in their communities using only their own savings and no outside funding.  Within two years, these groups had collectively saved about US$1.6 million and more than 80,000 women took loans to start or expand their own microenterprises.  ECTA is now working on creating a new version of the program that incorporates spiritual values and concepts.


New Day School

Karachi, Pakistan

The New Day School in Karachi, established in 1978 with just three students, now offers a complete primary and secondary program and has an enrollment of about eight hundred students.  In the 1990s, the facilities of the school were enhanced through the building of fully equipped science laboratories provided by the Pakistani government and the completion of twenty classrooms using the school’s own resources.  The first group of students took the Public Examination conducted by the Board of Secondary Education in 1991:  Out of the fourteen  children in the graduating class that year, all passed the examination, with eleven receiving marks of more than 80 percent.  Since that time, the school has maintained a distinguished record of academic achievement.

Dawnbreakers Foundation

Philippines

Apart from its general program for the development of human resources, the Dawnbreakers Foundation oversees three endeavors for social and economic development:  an initiative to conduct moral education classes in public schools, a radio station, and a tutorial program.  To carry out its program of teaching children in primary schools about religious values and universal spiritual principles, the Foundation arranges to train teachers in how to use a specially prepared curriculum.  By the end of 2002, approximately 3,000 children were attending weekly classes in ten urban primary schools in the provinces of Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino, and Cagayan.  Radio Baha’i Philippines, which was granted an operating license in March 2002, supports a variety of educational and community activities through broadcasts on an AM frequency.  One innovative radio program for children follows a young female character through a series of everyday situations in which she is called upon to acquire and exhibit such virtues as honesty, cleanliness, prayerfulness, generosity, and kindness to animals.  The station promotes local musical talent, hosts a show that offers advice to parents, and supports the effort to teach moral education in public schools.  A tutorial schools program in the remote Mangyan tribal region, originally started in the early 1970s, was recently revived by the Foundation.  It aims at training local youth to give instruction to children in literacy and arithmetic, and to be of service to their community.


Civilization Advancement Center (CAC)

Sabah

The Civilization Advancement Centre is a not-for-profit organization that provides spiritual and moral education for all ages, especially junior youth, through seminars, workshops, group activities, and the media.  In April 1998, in collaboration with the Ministry of National Unity and Social Development of Sabah, CAC launched the Virtues Project, an effort that empowers participants to live by their highest values.  Workshops were prepared for the general public, for law enforcement officers, and, with great success, for parents.

Between 1998 and 2002 Daily Express, the most widely read English newspaper in Sabah, had 52 full-page articles per year on the Virtue of the Week.  More recently, CAC has arranged for Daily Express to publish one weekly column on parenting and family issues, and another aimed at junior youth.  The newspaper also publicizes a number of CAC activities, for example, the ZIPoPo Show, an audience participation activity that encourages moral conduct; “Excellence in All Things,” a motivational course for students; and English classes for children and adults.

Special programs for junior youth and youth, such as that based on the Bahasa Malaysia translation of the text, Drawing on the Power ofthe Word, help youngsters to learn skills and build capacities that will ultimately serve to unify and advance their communities.  In 2002 CAC acquired a facility in the northern region of the country that houses the Northern Sabah Centre of Learning, a site for training and activities for the rural population.


Australasia

Naveed Foundation

Australia

Established in July 2001 in Australia as a not-for-profit funding agency, the Naveed  Foundation channels resources to a number of grassroots development initiatives in countries in the south Pacific.  By December 2002, the Naveed Foundation had financially assisted half a dozen projects.  In Papua New Guinea, 29 youth from remote areas of the country were sponsored to attend teacher-training colleges preparing them to return to their villages to offer primary education to hundreds of children with limited access to Schooling.  In Vanuatu, funding was provided for the construction of a new facility for a government-accredited primary school on the island of Espiritu Santo, enabling the school to increase its enrollments and make progress towards self-sufficiency.  In Fiji, the Foundation for the Peoples of the South Pacific received support to train local facilitators for a virtues program in government schools; the successful project attracted the attention of the media and resulted in requests for the program from the Commissioner for Prisons, the police, the army, and youth and women’s interest groups.  The Naveed Foundation is currently taking steps to obtain accreditation with the Australian Council for Overseas Aid, which would enable it to seek funding for projects from the Australian government.


Ocean of Light International School

Nuku’alofa, Tonga

In 1996 the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Tonga opened the first class of the Ocean of Light International School with nine children.  By March 2003, the school had 250 boys and girls from diverse backgrounds in classes from kindergarten to the eleventh grade.  The school is dedicated to developing the spiritual, intellectual, and physical potential of its students and to serving Tonga’s multicultural society.  It maintains a high standard of academic education and promotes character development by teaching spiritual values in the primary school and moral education in the high school.  Classes, except those for the study of the Tongan language, are taught in English.  The school places a strong emphasis on social service and cooperation, with students encouraged to participate in such pursuits as cross-age tutoring, mentoring in schools for hearing impaired and for disabled children, and raising awareness of environmental concerns.  All students at the secondary level are required to devote two to three hours a week to these activities.  In January 2003 Ocean of Light School opened two new Internet-ready buildings with space for classrooms, laboratories, and a library.  The inauguration of the new facilities was attended by 600 guests including various government ministers and foreign dignitaries, and featured an address by His Royal Highness Crown Prince Tupouto’a.


Europe

Townshend International School

Hluboka, Czech Republic

The Townshend International School is a private institution established in 1992.  It is a coeducational English-language residential school for students in grades 7-13 from diverse religious, ethnic, and racial backgrounds representing over twenty countries.  By the 2001-2002 school year, enrollment had reached 125 full-time students.  In that same year, new facilities were opened on a 40,700-square-meter property, which now allow the school to house 360 students during the academic year and up to 500 participants at summer programs.  The standard curriculum, certified by the Ministry of Education, is enriched by subjects that reflect the philosophy of the school, such as international relations and ethics and morals in a global society.  Extracurricular activities provide further scope for advancing these ideals.  In 2002, some 50 students chose to participate in community service projects to assist the elderly, young children, and the disabled; 40 students were involved in the school’s dance workshop, whose choreographed performances depicting social issues were presented in various cities and towns across Europe.


European Baha’i Business Forum (EBBF)

France

Registered in 1993 in Paris, the European Baha’i Business Forum is a nongovernmental organization that provides networking opportunities for some 300 business men and women in over 50 countries in Western and Eastern Europe.  One of EBBF’s objectives is to work with liked-minded organizations concerned with the operation of ethical principles of business and economics, such as UNESCO, the International Labor Organization, and AIESEC, a 30,000-member network of students in business and economics with representation in 87 countries.  Conferences are arranged regularly.  For example, aspects of the topic “Moral Values in a Social Market Economy” are addressed annually at a gathering in Sofia, Bulgaria, and meetings to discuss “The Role of Business in Enhancing the Prosperity of Humankind” are held each year at the De Poort Conference Centre in the Netherlands.  EBBF is active in counseling youth on career choices and attempts to address the needs of young professionals through its Young Professional Task Force.  Members of the agency have conducted courses and workshops on the role of business ethics in today’s global economy at a business college in Sofia, at the University of Prague’s School of Economics, and at the University of Bari, Italy’s second largest university.  To date, over twenty books on subjects related to ethics in business have been published by the EBBF in several European languages.


Global Perspective Development Center (GPDC)

Kosovo

The Global Perspective Development Center was registered in December 2001 in accordance with the regulations of the United Nations Mission in Kosovo.  GPDC is a locally based, nongovernmental organization engaged in increasing the ability of certain segments of the people of Kosovo to participate actively in the reconstruction and progress of their communities.  Through implementation of the Value-Based Leadership Project, derived from the Moral Leadership Program of Universidad Nur in Bolivia, the Center focuses on building the capacity of youth workers, civil servants, and other social actors.  In its operations it emphasizes the application of spiritual principles, promotes the development of moral capabilities, and encourages use of the arts to change attitudes.  As part of its initiative to employ the arts to change attitudes, GPDC supports the Global Motion Social Dance Theater, which establishes dance groups among local youth who portray social issues in their performances.  With the assistance of the Association for Creative Moral Education (ACME) in Russia, GPDC uses the “Stop and Act” show format to raise awareness and cultivate empowerment.  The first “Stop and Act” course was carried out near the town of Gjilan on March 2002 when 33 youth of Serbian, Bosnian, Croatian, and other backgrounds were trained in a methodology that is tailored to overcome ethnic prejudice and to foster unity in diversity.  GPDC works closely with the government’s Department for Youth and Ministry of Culture, Youth, Sports, and Non-Resident  Affairs.  It has also collaborated with a number of international agencies working in the post-war rebuilding of the region, including UNICEF, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), and the European Agency of Reconstruction.


Unity Foundation

Luxembourg

Since 1983 the Unity Foundation has assisted Baha’i development organizations worldwide to obtain hundreds of thousands of dollars for a variety of activities related to improving the health, education, and well-being of local populations.  Monies for specific endeavors or capital expansion projects are sought from the European Union, the government of Luxembourg, and local partners that offer funding for development projects.  To date, a wide variety of undertakings have benefitted from the efforts of the Foundation.  In Guyana, the Varqa Foundation was assisted with carrying out the Rupununi Health Outreach Project, which provided training and equipment to village health committees that organized and conducted primary health care classes.  In Brazil, Associacao para o Desenvolvimento Coesivo da Amazona (ADCAM), which serves children and families by offering education and social services, has been able to raise the number of scholarships it offers.  In Ecuador, the Raul Pavon School renovated its physical structure with funds from the European Union channeled through the Foundation.  In Tanzania, the Ruaha Secondary School, which focuses on the education of the girl-child, secured a grant through the Foundation to build a dormitory for 120 students.  In Indonesia, the Unity in Diversity Foundation received funds through the agency for its program of educating children in remote villages.


Norwegian Baha’i Office for Social and Economic Development

Norway

The Norwegian Baha’i Office for Social and Economic Development, whose operations date back to 1988, is dedicated to developing partnerships with organizations around the world that apply Baha’i principles for the advancement of their communities.  The Office works in Norway to procure funding and other types of assistance.  The scope of its work has evolved from one person responsible for a small project to a five-member group coordinating a range of support activities.  The Office has successfully obtained increasing levels of funding from the government’s Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) in order for the New Era Development Institute (NEDI) in India to carry out a series of four projects spanning twelve years beginning in May 1988.  These projects enabled NEDI to build its vocational and community development program, reach out to impact rural areas throughout India, construct portions of its campus including dormitories and classrooms, and prepare and publish a set of educational materials for school teacher training.  The Office was also able to enlist other individuals and agencies in Norway to assist NEDI, most notably, Telemark College’s Department of Teacher Training in Notodden.  In 2003, the Office opened a new chapter in its collaboration with NORAD by obtaining funding for a pilot project to expand the primary health education program of the William Mmutle Masetlha Foundation in Zambia.  The project will support training of health workers, the extension of the program to other countries, and the production of additional materials.


Association for Creative Moral Education (ACME)

Russian Federation

The activities that led to the eventual establishment of the Association for Creative Moral Education began in Kazan, Russia, in the early 1990s as a television show for young people, “The Happy Hippo Show.”  Programs are directed mainly at youth to help them find positive responses to dilemmas involving such issues as alcohol abuse, peer pressure, selecting a marriage partner, lying, and backbiting.  This approach to moral education consists of dramatic presentations of contemporary moral or social dilemmas in which all action is suddenly frozen at the climax.  The audience then consults about the underlying principles and ethical issues of the situations depicted and explores constructive outcomes to the drama.  The format that worked so successfully on television was easily adapted to a host of other venues:  radio studios, youth centers, schools, universities, businesses, government offices, and public settings.  Gradually, this initiative to promote positive messages through the media spread to other countries, mostly in Europe and Asia.  In 1998-1999 the “Stop and Act” approach, as it came to be known, was formally incorporated into the Royaumont Process, the cultural healing and rapprochement component of the Dayton Agreement for solving ethnic conflict in the countries of the Balkan region.  By the end of 2001, more than 1,000 people in 40 countries, representing most age groups and many walks of life, had been trained as “Stop and Act” presenters in over 500 topics.


Axios International Moral Education Project

Russian Federation

Established in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1995, the Axios International Moral Education Project encourages the study of ethics and spirituality through a series of courses and public lectures at a number of institutions of higher learning, and through the production of educational materials in English and Russian.  Between 1996 and 1999, courses on the topics of morality and ethics were offered at the Electrotechnical and State Universities in St. Petersburg.  The main publications of the Axios initiative are:  Ethics of Authenticity:  A Course of Integrated Ethics for Youth and Young Adults and Love, Power and Justice:  the Dynamics of Authentic Morality, both of which are available in English and Russian; and Prominent People on God and the Divine, available in Russian only.  A stream of public lectures on such topics as “science and religion,” “economic and moral values,” and “a logical proof of the existence of God” attracted approximately 3,000 people in 1997 in Kiev, Luhans’k, and other cities in the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).  Successful experiences in the CIS led to courses at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale in Switzerland.  In 1998 a number of these lectures were offered to some 5,000 people in 31 universities across Canada.  In 2002, Russian radio and television stations broadcasted seminars conducted by Axios personnel.


Institute for Moral and Spiritual Education

Russian Federation

The Institute for Moral and Spiritual Education began in 1995 when it published a 600-page book containing stories, poems, and fairy tales to foster the moral education of children.  Since then, it has continued to expand its programs and develop materials for pre-primary and primary education.  By March 2002, the institute had published and disseminated more than 100,000 copies of ten titles on moral education to teachers throughout Russia, the Ukraine, Belarus, and Latvia.  The institute conducts from 35 to 40 seminars for teachers annually in  several cities in Russia and a number of countries in the Commonwealth of Independent States.  Teachers in more than 2,000 schools now use the institute’s programs and materials.  Stories and articles contained in the texts have been extracted and published by a children’s magazine in the United States and by the popular Russian newspaper for educators The First September.  The institute’s programs have been implemented by such educational establishments as the Republican Institute for Training Teachers in the Ukraine, which, in October 2001, organized a seminar on moral education for more than 200 teachers.


Young Lions Association

Buryatia, Russian Federation

The Young Lions Association, founded in 1998 in Ulan-Ude in the republic of Buryatia in the Russian Federation, is dedicated to enhancing the spiritual and material well-being of society by building the capacities of young people through education and service to the community.  Young Lions started by sponsoring activities that offered alternatives to the use of alcohol and drugs.  It continues to train youth volunteers from local schools in the areas of prevention, and to promote the growth of a new youth culture in the region based on values inherent in a healthy way of life.  In 2000 and 2001, in collaboration with the AIDS Center of Buryatia, Young Lions conducted programs in fourteen regions of the republic aimed at helping to curtail the rising incidence of HIV/AIDS among youth.  In 2002 it offered seminars to some 70 youth in local schools on the Social Enterprise Program, an endeavor developed at the Badi Foundation in Macau, which focuses on raising the awareness of individuals at the grassroots and providing them with the skills they need to respond collectively to social challenges in the community.  In that year Young Lions also promoted study groups for some 70 children and adolescents at six locations in Ulan-Ude that worked with translated versions of such materials as Drawing on the Power of the Word, a text intended to improve literacy skills and foster spiritual empowerment.


Baha’i Agency for Social and Economic Development (BASED)

United Kingdom

The Baha’i Agency for Social and Economic Development, founded in 1993, is a non-governmental charitable organization.  It works for the alleviation of poverty and the advancement of education by securing funding for development projects in other parts of the world.  The agency has collaborated over a number of years with two endeavors in Honduras.  It obtained financial assistance from the British government’s Department for International Development (DFID) in support of the secondary education program known as Sistema de Aprendizaje Tutorial (SAT) conducted by Asociacion Bayan, and has
assisted in the work of the Tierra Santa Home for Abandoned Children.  BASED also attempts to link individuals who have specific expertise with projects that can utilize their skills or knowledge.  Further, BASED undertakes to educate the British public about the Baha’i approach to social and economic development through such media as conferences, training courses, and a Web site.


Bahai Activities in Christian Nations Part 1

Selected Baha’i Social and Economic Development Projects
Prepared by the Office of Social and Economic Development.

This document provides an overview of some of the more substantial development activities undertaken by Baha’is worldwide. Each description is based on the information available at the Baha’i World Centre at the time of its preparation and may not reflect the current status of the project.

Africa

Association for the Promotion and Development of Integrated Pisciculture (APRODEPIT)

Chad

The Association for the Promotion and Development of Integrated Pisiculture has its head-quarters in Sarh, a city on the Chari River in southern Chad. It began its activities in 1985 and was recognized as a nongovernmental organization by the national government in 1992. By 2000, it had set up 172 fish farming projects in lakes, creeks, and artificial ponds in a number of villages throughout the southern region of the country. APRODEPIT’s activities support 250 fishermen’s groups that train local entrepreneurs in the technical aspects of farming and raising fish, 150 women’s organizations whose members sell cereal and fish and are eligible for microcredit loans, and individual fishermen in need of credit to acquire materials and tools. As a result of APRODEPIT’s success in conserving the region’s wildlife–notably, in fostering the increase in the population of hippopotamuses from 2 to 50 within ten years–the government of Chad has declared a large tract of land to be a National Natural Reserve. In order to pursue an expanded range of community development goals, APRODEPIT created the Center for the Learning of Moral Virtues (CAVM) and the Group for the Reflection on the Condition of Women and Children (GRCFE). Between 1995 and 2000, GRCFE worked with a number of preschool and primary schools and trained more than 400 teachers reaching some 1,900 children. CAVM owns facilities in which it teaches literacy to young children and conducts sewing classes for women.


Institut Baha’i Ola

North Kivu and South Kivu

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Institut Baha’i Ola is located in the easternmost part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo near the border with Rwanda and Burundi. Despite the political strife that has characterized this central African nation in the past decade, the institute has evolved into a strong agency that actively trains human resources and carries out extension programs to increase the community’s capacity for health care, education, and agricultural production. By September 2001, Ola managed over 100 literacy centers for adults, and assisted six primary schools by conducting teacher training and providing curricular materials. The institute also supports a network of community health workers, encourages cultural and artistic initiatives for youth, and promotes activities that foster the advancement of women. As part of the Chidoro agricultural project, farmers grow crops on land owned by the institute. A special focus of the institute is a project that serves the Bayanda people of North Kivu. The project carries forward activities that began in 1993 with education and literacy. Agricultural advisors offer technical assistance for the cultivation of cassava, beans, soya, sweet potatoes, and bananas and for the operation of small-scale animal breeding activities involving mainly chickens, rabbits, and goats. Bayanda women learn skills such as mat weaving. And, in 2002, scholarships were provided to 60 Bayanda children to attend primary and secondary schools.


Sabri Development Institute

Ethiopia

Founded in 1996, the Sabri Development Institute, with headquarters in Addis Ababa, promotes capacity-building programs in the fields of literacy and health in various communities in Ethiopia. Many training activities are carried out among local populations in the Oromiya region in southern Ethiopia, one of the materially poorest areas of the country. The literacy program focuses on teaching reading skills to children and junior youth, especially girls. From its inception, this program has enjoyed the support of the community. Tutors participate in an intensive seven-day training seminar; most are volunteers eager to improve reading skills in their own communities. Of those students who have participated in literacy classes, 85 percent were reported to have performed well when they enrolled in formal schools, sometimes jumping one or more grade levels. In January 2002, the literacy effort reached some 250 children and youth through the work of 33 trained volunteers. The health education program imparts information and demonstrates practices related to personal and community health to families in Oromiya. One member of selected families, preferably the mother, is trained to be a health tutor. By April 2002, fifty-four such health tutors and one professional health provider were working with approximately 500 households.


Two Wings Education and Communication International

Ethiopia

Two Wings Education and Communication International is an Ethiopian agency that
operates Two Wings Academy and Brilliant Children’s Newspaper, both endeavors
concerned with promoting the moral transformation of society. Two Wings Academy began classes in June 2002 and ten months later had 65 children in kindergarten and grades one and two. Its curriculum prepares young people to become helpers in their neighborhoods and citizens of the world. By March 2003 the school also had 145 students in its tutorial classes for primary and secondary education and in its short-term enrichment courses in subjects like English and computer science. The Brilliant Children’s Newspaper is a bimonthly publication in Amharic intended to foster good character and leadership skills in children. Its contents include stories to guide the moral development of children, a column with commentary on the spiritual solution of social issues, and a section for teachers. Youth can earn a commission by selling the newspaper. In 2003, Two Wings International started a series of weekly training sessions for more than 600 young people, from some 300 municipal sectors of Addis Ababa, who serve as its sales agents.At these gatherings emphasis is placed on personal transformation and on acquiring skills for social action.


The Olinga Foundation for Human Development

Ghana

The Olinga Foundation for Human Development was formed in June 1999 to promote
literacy and moral education in primary and junior secondary schools, especially among girl students, in rural areas of Ghana. The Foundation’s main initiative is the Enlightening the Hearts literacy project, which operates in a number of government primary and junior secondary schools. In October 2001, and again in October 2002, the Foundation offered workshops to some 60 teachers from about 40 schools in the western region of the country. Teachers were equipped with textbooks for their students and the skills needed to effectively teach basic reading and writing in the local languages, Ewe and Twi. The workshops dealt with classroom management skills and methods of discipline, and also stressed the cultivation of moral principles including honesty, responsibility, trustworthiness, and compassion.

After the October 2001 training, five participating schools spontaneously abandoned the use of corporal punishment in favor of alternative approaches to discipline. In the 2001-2002 school year, the average rate of literacy in the schools at which the project had been introduced rose from 10 percent to 47 percent, with approximately 2,500 students reaching a basic level of literacy. The Olinga Foundation is now creating English-language modules to complement its curriculum.


Bambino Schools

Lilongwe, Malawi

The Bambino Schools provide formal education for all ages, serving the urban community of the capital, Lilongwe. In 1993 a nursery section and a primary school were established; one year later a secondary school was added, and in 1998 a secretarial and computer college was introduced. The schools operate under a single, private, nonprofit organization managed by a board of directors that consults regularly with a parent-teachers association. The aim is to provide a high standard of education and an environment in which students will develop their full potential in the areas of academic excellence, practical skills, physical fitness, and moral responsibility. As part of their extracurricular programs, the Bambino Schools sponsor three service clubs that give students the opportunity to serve in the preschool program, in the First Aid Club, and in the Environment and Art Club. The primary school also offers free adult literacy classes to the wider community. In January 2002 a hostel was built that houses 110 girls, most of them secondary students. By January 2003 total enrollment had reached almost 1,100, with 100 in the nursery program, 700 in primary grades, 250 in the secondary level, and 30 in the secretarial college.


Agence de Developpement Social et Economique (ADESEC)

Niger

The Agence de Developpement Social et Economique was established in Niamey, the capital of Niger, in July 1994, to promote activities for health and education, particularly in the western region of the country. In subsequent years, the agency’s pursuits included courses in first aid and widespread vaccination programs. In collaboration with the health authorities of the Makalondi and Gourma regions, ADESEC arranged for immunization against measles for 2,000 individuals, and against meningitis for some 3,500. In response to the high rates of illiteracy among rural populations, the agency carried out a number of efforts to enhance reading skills in the Gourma region. In 2002, ADESEC instituted the Projet d’Education et de Formation au Niger (PEFN), a three-year initiative to bring the principles of moral and character education to bear on programs for teacher training, on curricula for secondary school students, and on courses for parents. The effort is being carried out in collaboration with Lycee Enoch Olinga, a Baha’i-inspired school for children in grades 6-9. One long-term objective of PEFN is to produce educational materials that can be made available to secondary schools in francophone Africa.


Royal Falcon Education Initiative

South Africa

The Royal Falcon Education Initiative is an agency dedicated to the promotion of moral values among teenagers and young adults in South Africa. Its primary tool is the Youth Enrichment Programme (YEP). YEP currently consists of a text that contains lessons on such pressing issues as HIV/AIDS, alcohol and drug use, multiculturalism and prejudice, and character development; materials on other topics are being prepared. YEP was first implemented in the year 2000 at a teacher training college in Pretoria. Twenty-two teachers were instructed in how to present it, seven of whom went on to offer the program in their own classes. In May 2000, fourteen high school youth were trained to conduct YEP courses, which were well received by teachers, principals, and government officials, including representatives of the South African Ministry of Education. By December 2002, twenty-nine facilitators were offering the full program at eighteen middle and high schools throughout South Africa. At one of them, YEP is being used in collaboration with other local secondary schools as a way of resolving common behavioral problems among students. In addition, the University of Pretoria and a prison are using YEP. Outside of South Africa the program is being tested, for example, in Botswana, Madagascar, Lesotho, and Swaziland.


Baha’i Schools

Mbabane, Swaziland

The Baha’i Schools, located in Mbabane, comprise preprimary, primary, and secondary levels under a single board of directors. The preprimary and primary schools were established in the early 1990s; the Setsembiso Sebunye High School was inaugurated in January 2000. All provide an environment conducive to the spiritual development and the moral training of students. By April 2001, the schools had a combined enrollment of over 600 students and nearly 30 staff. Teachers in the preprimary school are trained to use Montessori-based programs and to develop their own curricular materials. In 2001, the Baha’i primary school distinguished itself in the standard five examinations; out of more than 500 primary schools in Swaziland, it obtained second place in test score average for all students. The high school’s human development program, well recognized for its involvement in the struggle to halt the spread of HIV/AIDS, reaches out to students in ten other schools and to more than 600 families. Information about HIV/AIDS and about the values and attitudes necessary to curb the country’s soaring infection rates is presented at workshops, in classes, and through the media, with students creating their own radio and television spots, videos, T-shirts, posters, and Web pages.In 2000 the high school received a donation of 57 Pentium 133 computers from the Mona Foundation in the United States, enabling it to set up one of the most advanced technology labs in the country.


Ruaha Secondary School

Iringa, Tanzania

Ruaha Secondary School is a nonprofit educational institution owned and operated by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Tanzania. A policy committee, named by the National Assembly, which works closely with a board of governors appointed by the Ministry of Education of Tanzania, guides the management of the school. Established in 1986, the school strives to apply Baha’i teachings to every aspect of its functioning, while embracing the religious diversity of its students, who are Baha’is, Christians, and Muslims. Ruaha is distinguished by the high importance it places on the education of girls. The school is coeducational, but the boarding facilities are for girls only, and a scholarship program administered in cooperation with the World Bank and the Ministry of Education makes full scholarships available to a number of female students annually. The Tanzanian national curriculum for forms I-IV (grades 8-11) is offered with an emphasis on agriculture and within a distinct framework of moral education. The academic program consists of courses in English, mathematics, social science, chemistry, biology, physics, agriculture, and computer science. Activities for social and economic development are an integral part of the school’s programs and include a dairy enterprise, crop production, a computer facility, a fishpond, and a sewing project. In 2002, the school had 35 full-time teachers and a student enrollment of 491.


Uganda Programme of Literacy for Transformation (UPLIFT)

Uganda

Uganda Programme of Literacy for Transformation was established to help raise the level of reading among the people of Uganda, where, in 2000, out of a total adult population of 10 million, almost 4 million-mostly women–were illiterate. UPLIFT is a non-governmental organization registered in Uganda that serves as one of a number of local partners in a government initiative to combat poverty through literacy. This concerted endeavor receives encouragement and assistance from international agencies. UPLIFT’s efforts began in 2001 when it trained 35 literacy facilitators who reached about 200 participants in Jonam County. By October 2002 the program was reaching over 700 learners in 36 villages in Jonam and Padyere Counties. Apart from addressing the mechanics of reading and writing, UPLIFT stresses the necessity of promoting the equality of women and men and of encouraging participants, most of whom are parents, to include their children in the learning process, for example, by reading to them. Texts for facilitators and students are available in English and in local languages, with lessons on such relevant subjects as fostering social and economic development initiatives, improving health conditions, preventing HIV, preserving the environment, and understanding the importance of universal education.


William Mmutle Masetlha Foundation

Zambia

The William Mmutle Masetlha Foundation is a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization with its seat located on 200 hectares of agricultural land situated in Chisamba, about 80 kilometers north of Lusaka. While its origins date back to 1983, the Foundation was organized under its present structure in 1995. The major programs of the Foundation include the Capstone Education Program, the Health Education Program, the Agriculture Research Program, the Banani International Secondary School, and a general training program to develop capabilities for service. Capstone is a village tutorial program that seeks to consolidate the primary education of junior youth, prepare them for a secondary-level education, and enable them to contribute to the progress of their communities. The Health Program has trained dozens of individuals serving an increasing number of communities in Zambia, and is developing a series of primary-health training materials that have been implemented locally and in Cameroon, Uganda, Zimbabwe, and Ethiopia. The Agriculture Research Program consists of modest research and demonstration projects on sustainable agriculture. The Banani Secondary School, a residential academic school for girls, was established in 1993 and had an enrollment, in 2002, of 130 students in grades 8-12. A primary school for boys and girls also functions under the Foundation.


Americas

Children and Youth Ambassadors for Peace Foundation

Argentina

Inspired by UNESCO’s declaration of an International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World (2001-2010), a young Baha’i couple living in Resistencia, Argentina, established the nonprofit foundation Children and Youth Ambassadors for Peace. The aim of the organization is to empower children to acquire a vision of a peaceful society and the capacities required to translate that vision into reality. The foundation’s main pursuit is the Children’s Service-Oriented Leadership Program, in which young people ages 10 to 12 gather in groups called “circles of peace,” in order to read about, and reflect on, the subject of peace; to develop capabilities for community service; and to engage in exploring their artistic and creative talents. Trained youth facilitate the groups. In 2000, activities of the foundation included two Friendship and Peace Workshops for fifteen year olds in Resistencia which attracted more than 100 students. In 2002, the agency’s course for training teachers in peace education was approved for use in the province of Chaco by the Provincial Ministry of Education. In 2003, apart from its work with children and youth, the foundation offered a course on strategic development for nongovernmental organizations.


Universidad de las Naciones Integracion, Desarrollo y Ambiente (UNIDA)

Buenos Aires, Argentina

The Universidad de las Naciones Integracion, Desarrollo y Ambiente, founded in 1996 with an initial enrollment of 22, has grown to an institution with some 150 students and a core group of 15 professors and 70 adjunct lecturers. It offers graduate-level instruction in four areas: sustainable development, social anthropology, human development, and organizational processes. As part of its program, UNIDA provides regular training courses intended to strengthen civil society and to promote participatory models of development. Since 1996 over 500 students in the province of San Juan, and 50 students at the university’s satellite centers in Rosario and Viedma, have completed courses with UNIDA. The organization has received funding for specific training programs including a grant from the municipal government of Buenos Aires to train 20 unemployed people in how to start microenterprises for recycling, and support from Women in Equality to train 20 women from local development agencies in leadership skills. UNIDA’s publications office has produced and distributed five books on topics related to social and economic development, and publishes a quarterly magazine, ECO: Ecologia y Unidad Mundial, that deals with environmental and social awareness.


Universidad Nur

Santa Cruz, Bolivia

Located in the city of Santa Cruz, Bolivia, Universidad Nur was founded in 1985 with just 97 students. Its educational philosophy advocates the integration of academic knowledge with both practical experience and the teaching of basic moral principles, while emphasizing community service, social justice, and a respect for human diversity. In 2001, the university had over 3,000 graduate and undergraduate students working toward degrees in 17 fields of study including accounting, communications, agricultural economics, education, commercial engineering, computer science, international commerce, business administration, and rural medicine. In addition, hundreds of students enroll each year in its nonformal educational programs. The university has collaborated with such non-governmental organizations as the World Health Organization and with educational institutions in other countries on research and development projects to promote literacy, moral leadership, public health, public administration and governance, the advancement of women, and sustainable development. Universidad Nur’s specialized program for training in moral leadership–based on the acquisition of moral capabilities–has been presented to teachers and government administrators in some 400 rural communities in Bolivia. The program has also spread to over a dozen other Latin American countries, as well as to North America, Africa, and Europe.


Universidad Tecnica Privada de Santa Cruz (UTEPSA)

Santa Cruz, Bolivia

The Universidad Tecnica Privada de Santa Cruz was started by a group of educators whose vision was to have a technical training school at which educational and administrative policy would be guided by moral values. By 1995, this endeavor had evolved into a technical university with some 320 students. In 2001, UTEPSA was certified as a fully accredited university by the Ministry of Education and Sports, recognition enjoyed by eight of Bolivia’s thirty-three private universities. UTEPSA’s Universal Technical Institute offers inexpensive short-term courses aimed at making the benefits of higher education available to the poor in Santa Cruz. By 2002, UTEPSA was offering courses of study in sixteen areas of specialization to some 4,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The university works closely with the region’s business sector; in 2001-2002 it offered training to personnel from 197 companies throughout the country. The graduate program, established in June 1997, offers master’s degrees in management, finance, and marketing; it has close ties to Havana University in Cuba, to Columbus University in Panama, and the Tecnologico de Monterrey in Mexico. The facilities of the university include a modern library, well-equipped laboratories and workshops, and a sports complex. In 2002, over 100 students earned degrees from UTEPSA in five undergraduate and three graduate programs.


Associacao Monte Carmelo (AMC)

Porto Feliz, Brazil

The Associacao Monte Carmelo, established in 1992, is an educational center that promotes the intellectual, physical, and spiritual development of children and adolescents. The agency, situated near the town of Porto Feliz about 140 kilometres from Sao Paulo, was recognized in 1995 as a public interest institution by the city council. In the school system in that region of Brazil, children attend formal classes for only half a day, some in the mornings and some in the afternoons, leaving many of them unsupervised and unoccupied for the remainder of the day. AMC provides an engaging and productive alternative to life in the streets. Over the last ten years, scores of young people between the ages of seven and fourteen, from all religious backgrounds and ethnic groups, have attended the rural 84,000-square-meter facility during weekday hours when they were not in school. While at the center they learn and recite prayers; attend tutorial classes to reinforce studies, for example, in mathematics and reading; get help with their homework; and participate in outdoor recreation. AMC is concerned not only with stressing traditional academic subjects but also with having a positive influence on the children’s character. Virtues such as cleanliness, love, kindness, generosity, and integrity are taught and put into practice. A “virtue of the week” is the theme of classes, songs, artwork, and group exercises. The selfless efforts of many volunteers, including local people and businesses but in particular mothers, are contributing to the upkeep and growth of AMC. Some 150 boys and girls were enrolled in 2002.


Associacao para o Desenvolvimento Coesivo da Amazonia (ADCAM)

Amazonas, Brazil

The Associacao para o Desenvolvimento Coesivo da Amazonia is a nonprofit organization based on Baha’i principles that, since 1984, has been dedicated to the education and development of the population of the state of Amazonas. ADCAM’s major initiatives include the Masrour School, the Youth Leadership Program, the Juvenile Assistance Program, the Tahirih College of Education, and various professional improvement courses. In August 2001 the Masrour Vocational School had an enrollment of 518 students in classes from preschool through the eleventh grade. The Youth Leadership Program, which began in 1990, offers approximately 120 youth ages 8 to 14 a four-hour after-school program that includes spiritual enrichment, training in sports, and leadership courses.The Juvenile Assistance Program focuses on the social rehabilitation of juvenile offenders. The Tahirih College of Education, a teacher training college that offers a baccalaureate degree program for schoolteachers, was opened in July 2002 with 100 students, 50 percent of whom receive full scholarships. In 2001, the Ministry of Education approved funding for the construction of facilities to house a new institute for vocational training.


School of the Nations

Brasilia, Brazil

The School of the Nations, located in Brazil’s capital city, Brasilia, opened its doors in 1980 to children from all cultures and religious backgrounds. During the 2001-2002 academic year, 560 students representing 42 nationalities were enrolled in its elementary and secondary programs, and received instruction in both Portuguese and English. The school aims at preparing students to participate actively in the creation of a global society in which dialogue and cooperation can be used constructively in service to the community. Specially designed educational materials are created for use in many classes. Participation in service projects is an integral component of the curriculum, which includes the following subjects: language, mathematics, science, social studies, art, music, physical education, and computer science. The social studies program emphasizes the unique contribution that different cultures make to the unfoldment of a world civilization.


Canadian Baha’i International Development Services (CBIDS)

Canada

The Canadian Baha’i International Development Services was incorporated in 1981 for the purpose of acquiring funds for Baha’i social and economic development projects from those government agencies and private sector organizations in Canada that make monies available for humanitarian endeavors. Since its inception, CBIDS has been successful in obtaining more than C$2.2 million (Canadian dollars) for primary health care projects in Kenya, Zambia, and Uganda; for culturally appropriate radio programming in Bolivia and Ecuador; for integrated rural development in Haiti; for literacy and vocational training pursuits in India; and for the expansion of two large rural secondary education programs in Colombia and Honduras. In addition to securing funds, CBIDS has a monitoring role and provides support, as appropriate. At the request of the projects it works with around the world, CBIDS may assist with the design of proposals, the evaluation of programs, and the training of staff on such topics as management and gender equality. To keep the Canadian public informed about trends in international development, CBIDS has arranged for the production of videos featuring the education projects in Colombia and Honduras.


Maxwell International Baha’i School

British Columbia, Canada

Maxwell International Baha’i School is a coeducational residential secondary school that offers a government-approved curriculum of language, visual and performing arts, mathematics, history, science, and social studies. The aim of the Maxwell School is to prepare students for global citizenship by fostering their spiritual, emotional, intellectual, social, and physical development. From an initial enrollment of 47 students in 1988, the student body had increased to 152 students from 38 countries by 2002. The facilities are situated in an expansive setting on the shores of Shawnigan Lake, 40 minutes from Victoria, British Columbia. Community service projects, coordinated by the Maxwell Community Service Institute, have had a positive effect on the surrounding area, and other schools have emulated Maxwell’s example. Such projects have included the ecological renovation of streams and the rendering of assistance to children, youth, and the elderly. Through its dramatic portrayal of social problems such as racism and drug abuse, Maxwell’s dance workshop has received acclaim from audiences across North America.

Continue reading

Baha’is misusing the name of Queen Marie of Romania

Princess Ileana of Romania (Queen Marie’s daughter)

January 30. On this date in in 1926, Martha Root secured the first of her eight meetings with Queen Marie of Romania, which occurred from January 1926 through February 1936. Although Bahá’ís frequently refer to her as “the first member of a royal family to embrace the Bahá’í Faith,”

Queen Marie’s daughter disputes this claim:  

“It is perfectly true that my mother, Queen Marie, did receive Miss Martha Root several times…..She came at the moment when we were undergoing very great family and national stress. At such a moment it was natural that we were receptive to any kind of spiritual message, but it is quite incorrect to say that my mother or any of us at any time contemplated becoming a member of the Baha’i faith.”.

A Christian Response to Bahaism by Francis Beckwith

Here is a brief, yet remarkably thorough treatment of the Bahai Faith. Beckwith first presents a historical review, noting the most important events crucial in the formative years of this movement. Secondly, he examines the main doctrines of Bahai Faith in the light of Scriptures, along with the Bahai’s use of the Bible in defence of their religion.

Read Francis Beckwith’s Book

In addition, he asks several important questions concerning the relationship between Christianity and Bahaism

  1. Can the teachings of Jesus be placed into their structure without damage to their original intent.
  2. Is their use of the Bible legitimate, compelling or successful
  3. Apart from personal assurance, does the Bahai religion have objective evidence upon which to rest its beliefs?

This is a remarkable incisive work. Mr Beckwith’s research of the Bahai movement will face any honest member to take a serious “second look” at what he has been taught

Shoghi Effendi : Baha’is should discontinue observing holidays as Christmas and New Years

Bahais have been busy in Haifa, Israel celebrating Christmas (Read more). However this is in direct contravention to the command from Shoghi Effendi – the erstwhile guardian of the Bahai Faith. He said,

“As regards the celebration of the Christian Holiday by the believers; it is surely preferable and even highly advisable that the friends should in their relation to each other discontinue observing such holidays as Christmas and New Years, and to have their festival gatherings of this nature instead during the Intercalary Days and Naw-Rúz….”
(Shoghi Effendi)

Are the Bahais going to comply?

Lessons for Christians in the history of the Bahai faith

This is an article by Adrian Worsfold (Pluralist). He has a doctorate in sociology and a masters degree in contemporary theology. He lives near Hull, in northeast England and keeps the blog Pluralist Speaks.

When I was confirmed into the Church of England in 1984 I asked some Baha’is I met at their firesides to come along. None did. In the end I fell out with the Baha’is as I discovered academic material that presented their history differently from their own. They are very committed to the preservation of their history as monitored by the Universal House of Justice, the nine seater male-only assembly meant to be a combined secular and religious decision making body for the world, elected without campaigns by the National Spiritual Assemblies below them, these elected by delegates from the Local Spiritual Assemblies below them. It is a very conserving system, a sort of democratic centralism: what the top level says goes.

Continue reading

Bahai Faith: Bahai-Christian Dialogue

By Francis Beckwith

One religious group to originate in the past two centuries that has not received enough attention from evangelical Christians is the Baha’i World Faith.1 Baha’is believe that all of the world’s major religions are progressive revelations from God, each designed for its particular historical era. The Baha’i religion teaches that Krishna, Zoroaster, Moses, Buddha, Confucius, Jesus, Muhammad, and the Bab (the Persian founder of a nineteenth-century religious movement which laid the foundation for Baha’ism) were all prophets or manifestations of God for their time.2 However, Baha’u’llah, the founder of the Baha’i religion, the successor of the Bab, and the most recent manifestation, is the one who should now be revered and obeyed.

Read the Book of Francis Beckwith

Baha’u’llah’s greatest teaching was the oneness and unity of mankind. According to Baha’u’llah, every race, both sexes, and the great religious truths all come from one God. While Christians may appreciate some of the humanitarian and peace doctrines of the Baha’is, they take issue with the Baha’i claim to compatibility with their faith; for Baha’ism denies several essential Christian doctrines. Since the publication of my Christian response to the Baha’i World Faith, Baha’i (Bethany House, 1985), I have had several encounters with both Baha’is and non-Baha’is who have questioned my position on a number of key issues regarding the relationship between Baha’ism and Christianity. For example, in a detailed critique of my book, Steve McConnell, a non-Baha’i from Bellevue, Washington, asked me, “Could Christianity’s conception of God withstand the cursory logical tests to which you subject the Baha’i’s God?”3

Continue reading