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)
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
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)
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, 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.
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
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.
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, 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.
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)
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)
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
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)
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
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)
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.
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)
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)
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)
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
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
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
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.
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)
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)
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
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.
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)
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.
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
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.
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)
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)
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.
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
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)
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
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
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)
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.