Character Education is an integral part of the curriculum of any Bahá’í School. At Banani International School, Character Education covers the following aspects: Moral Education classes, Junior Youth Groups, service activities and the devotional part of the Monday and Friday Assembly gatherings.
Moral Education classes
“The foundation-stone of a life lived in the way of God is the pursuit of moral excellence and the acquisition of a character endowed with qualities that are well-pleasing in His sight.”
– Shoghi Effendi, 8 December 1923 to a Bahá’í community
Moral Education classes cover topics such as virtues (honesty, justice, tactfulness, self-discipline, courtesy, etc.), the art of consultation, human potential, the family as the social space in which moral capabilities are formed, the vicious cycle of prejudice, unity in diversity, etc.
The students discuss the concepts, answer questions, find solutions to problems and are encouraged to confront the material studied to situations in their personal lives.
Junior Youth Groups
“How excellent, how honourable is man if he arises to fulfil his responsibilities; how wretched and contemptible, if he shuts his eyes to the welfare of society and wastes his precious life in pursuing his own selfish interests.” – ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Secret of Divine Civilization, pg. 4
The quote above expresses the main motivation for including this course in the Banani curriculum for 8th and 9th grade students enrolled at the school. The purpose of the course is to help its participants realize their unique potential to act as determined agents of social change, and their willingness to contribute to the construction of a better society. The term “Junior Youth” describes youth between the ages of 11 and 15. It is generally considered that this period of their respective lives represents a special time when they leave childhood behind and undergo profound change. Junior youth are required to leave the attitudes, thoughts and habits of their early years behind, and asked to cultivate new capacities. It is also during this time that fundamental concepts about individual and collective life are formulated in their mind, and they are ever seeking answers to questions.
The course aims to help the students develop into individuals who will “carry forward an ever advancing civilization” and will become “builders of unity” and “champions of justice”.
Junior Youth Groups
A Junior Youth Group meets weekly and studies materials that have been specifically developed for ages between 11 and 15. At Banani International School, the students of the 8th and 9th Grade study the materials during the Character Education classes. Studying occupies only a portion of the time the youth spend together. The remainder of the time is spent consulting on and planning service projects, as it is in the field of service that we develop our potentials and effect change in society. This part of the Junior Youth Group’s activity takes place on Wednesday afternoons during “service”.
The Junior Youth Group also functions as an environment of mutual support for its members, one in which they can develop the spiritual perception, patterns of thought, and behaviour that will characterize them throughout their lives.
Aims & Objectives of the course
The focus of this course is the realization of the junior youth’s potential to act as determined agents of social change, and their willingness to contribute to the construction of a better society. The course will help them develop the capacities and attitudes required to perform self-less acts of service. They include, but are not limited to:
- A strong sense of purpose, both to take charge of their own personal growth and to contribute to the transformation of society.
- The capacity to make moral choices, to distinguish between right and wrong
- A growing enthusiasm for service
- An eagerness to learn
- An acute sense of justice
- A strong tendency towards altruism
Service is an essential and inseparable aspect of Character Education. Indeed, it is through self-less acts of service and dedication to the welfare of society that a human’s potential is developed.
At Banani international School, Wednesday afternoons are devoted to service activities. The students set out in groups to tutor Science and Maths to the children of Liteta Primary School, Golden Valley, Village of Hope, Okada and Shalubala. They also tutor the students of the Banani Primary School in French and Science, and a group called “New Face” does renovation and clean-up work on campus.
It is also during this time that girls who are part of a Junior Youth Group engage in acts of service. As a group, the Junior Youth decide what service they would like to render to the community. They devise their project, learn how to plan strategically, collect the permissions necessary to perform their service project and set out to serve. The groups have planned and put into action projects as diverse as: helping in the school kitchen, creating educational posters, teaching sports to the lower grades of the Banani Primary School.