Saudi Arabia News
At the invitation of Mr Yusef Shafy, Chairman of the Council of Saudi Chambers, an introduction to Living Values Education was presented to an august and distinguished group of leading educators, owners of private schools, heads of education ministries and leaders of education training institutions from across Saudi Arabia at Ta'ef in May 2010. Gentlemen sat in one part of the conference room and ladies respectfully participated from behind a screen. The seminar highlighted the birth of LVE, its purpose, what are values and the challenges that face education leaders in putting values education into effective use.
Highlights in a warm hearted gathering included:
- Empowering everyone to reflect on their personal values.
- Appreciating, through a practical activity, that our hopes for our children have to be addressed through both head and heart.
- Appreciating that there is an inner world of values at work as well as a formal curriculum on the outside.
- Appreciating that excellence is found in the basic tools and exploration of outer learning as well as the depths and wisdom of inner learning, and
- Acknowledging that there are many languages at work at any one time, especially the hidden language of feelings, thoughts and atmosphere and the language of the individual spirit and energy we each carry in our presence.
Rich in participation and engagement, a special emphasis was given to paradoxes of education - head v heart, holistic curriculum v subject centered, learning organically v learning with set outcomes, and learning to be a human being v learning to be a human doing. With the help of the Living Values Education awareness program and metaphors of stars and diamonds, everyone present agreed that these values are 'Our Values' and not values from 'out there' - the universal values - that binds humanity as one.
The value of storytelling was shared through a practical application of the short story entitled 'To be a man or a king?'
The story was related of two Grade 8 students who were stopped from fighting. They both believed that, in order to solve a disagreement, they had to fight to be seen to be a man. A man will fight a man to be a man - yet a king will see both sides and choose peace. When asked whether they wished to be a man or a king - they chose a king. Peace prevailed.
At the close of the session, each member was invited to write their favourite value onto a balloon and pass the balloon to a colleague to share what the value written on the balloon meant to them. This light hearted activity invited in respectful playfulness and simple truth.
Summing up the LVE Introduction, the Head of Education in Ta'ef stated - the essence is as follows:
'Living Values Education is not about education nor is it about curriculum. It is about something else that is so important. We know what it is. Our world is falling and this program brings hope'.
As an outcome, it was agreed to pursue further training programs and to invite Saudi Arabian educators and interested parties elsewhere in the Arab World to bring their own values to the global program.
Peter Williams, who led the training with Wajeeha Al Habib from Kuwait, concluded:
'We are each like a grain of sand, each with our part to play. Somewhere in the Middle East or somewhere in Saudi Arabia or in this room or within the heart of a student within one of your schools, there is someone who will be that single grain of sand who will tip the scales and set the direction to help make our world the kind of world we wish it to be - with all those other grains of sand who are seeking hope and peace. Perhaps the way forward is in this room right now? The strength of this gathering is in its humility, wisdom and truth. It is a truth that our world will welcome'.
Copies of the LVE Arabic edition were given to the gathering, the name and address of Mr Osama Al Jama, the Saudi Arabian Living Values Focal Point and a copy of the Values and Leadership booklet from the June 2008 training in Kuwait.
Private questions from the ladies and gentlemen present focused on practicalities and examples of good practice around the world. The session ended naturally with a quiet call to prayer.
The LVE Focal Point for Saudi Arabia submitted the following report:
"My name is Osama Al Jama. I am a Saudi who is honored to be the Focal Point of LVE in Saudi Arabia. I have a dream - to introduce LVE's 12 values to the Saudi society.
In 2008, three LVE training courses for parents were conducted. Each course consisted of a three-day workshop of four hours each day. Each participant received a pin, note book and manual. The message for the workshops is to fight child abuse, use LVE values and develop good communication with children. A certificate of completion is distributed at the end of the course. I may not conduct LVE activities for children like other countries but my strategy is to help give parents insight about raising their children and how to help them use their values with their own life and family.
These are photos of a program I implemented in the north of Saudi Arabia. It took me six hours by car to reach this village in a rural area. The people here are less educated than in the main cities. You can not imagine how desperate they were to learn; even an old man over 70 years old came and sat to listen and learn. I was invited by a charity organization registered in the UN called Wamy. This program is free for the people there to attend. The training course took place in January 2009 in a village called Hafr Al Baten. The people there were so nice and so generous. I talked about the ALIVE organization and we discussed the values they wanted to instill in their children, and what children need. The audience was about 30 people, most of them are educators and parents. One of the courses I did was for women. I was surprised to see a young, single girl who just wanted to learn. When I asked her why she came she said, "I am preparing myself to be a good mother in the future."
More LVE programs are coming in the year 2009. Most of them will be implemented in the east of Saudi Arabia in the main cities, with the aim of helping create a better life for children. Finally, if anybody has any questions you would like to ask me, please do not hesitate to do so."