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November 2019
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Character Education

Promoting Character Education in Canada, Australia, and Nepal

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Autumn 2007 was a busy time for character education. Not only did UPF representatives travel to four different countries in one month, representatives from more than a dozen countries attended workshops and planned to carry the message of character education back to their countries. One Muslim representative thought the Discovering the Real Me character education curriculum produced by UPF was just the thing for the Kurdistan region of Iraq, where economic, social, and peace achievements are blossoming but often ignored by the mass media.

Talking about character education builds trust among diverse peoples. As many representatives from around the world have testified, when people from traditional societies look at the United States they admire its freedoms but fear that those freedoms are heading too far down the road toward license. When people affirm the traditional values of honesty, loyalty, family unity, purity before marriage and fidelity afterward, justice, and fairness, people all over the world respond. After all, these are universally admired and aspired-to virtues that everyone benefits from. Whether you are from Kansas or Kathmandu, you want the merchant you are dealing with to be honest, you want the corner policeman to be just, and you want your marital partner to be faithful. Character education owes its appeal to the universality of human yearnings for the good, the true, and the beautiful, and because it addresses these things, it bridges cultural gaps.


Canada

Mr. David Stewart and Mr. Alan Saunders conducted an educators’ training workshop at the WorldEducationCollege in Hamilton, Canada, on November 12. Participants from the World Association of NGOs (WANGO) conference attended the training workshop, along with local educators. A broad representation of individuals, including athletic coordinators, UPF delegates from Sri Lanka, and representatives from the Muslim community in Toronto, Canada, also attended the training.

During the workshop, new PowerPoint presentations were given using sample chapters from the Discovering the Real Me curriculum. Skits, dramas, and competitions were among the activities, as well as ample group discussion time. This interactive format seemed to give workshop participants a sense of ownership of the material and heightened their enthusiasm.

Participants expressed interest in implementing the program in places as diverse as Spain, Kenya, Sri Lanka, and various parts of Canada. Mr. David Stewart will begin giving presentations to local educators, parents, and soccer coaches in nearby Hamilton and Toronto to keep the momentum going.

Australia

From November 24-26, there was a three day Educators’ Training Workshop in Sydney, Australia. The inclusion of a former UNESCO official from Myanmar, a medical doctor from Bangladesh, and experienced high school teachers from the region helped spark a sense of ownership. The Discovering the Real Me curriculum serves as a template which can be adapted by other cultures using their own myths, legends, heroes, folktales, fables, and fairy tales. Educators from Tahiti, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, and volunteers who have worked in Cameroon and the Caribbean attended the workshop. The participation of the Oceania Leadership Training Team members added a bright young spirit to the workshop, along with a couple of college youth from Sydney.

Following brief lectures on the purpose and content of the curriculum, educators split into groups and reviewed a chapter from the character education curriculum. Reports were given back to the plenary session, looking at strengths, limitations of a particular grade level and chapter, and suggestions for culturally specific ways to make the curriculum more relevant to the particular ethnic or racial group the representatives hope to reach.

Dr. Chung-Sik Yong, Enrique Ledesma, and Rick McInherney are planning ways to expand the curriculum in the Pacific islands.

Nepal

Approximately 120 people attended the two-day Educators Training Workshop held December 2-3 at the Peace Embassy in Kathmandu, Nepal. The workshop was co-sponsored by Nepal’s Ministry of Education, Sports and Curriculum Development and by UPF-Nepal. Many dignitaries attended, including Dr. G.M. Gurung, Minister of Human Resource Development and Cultural Heritage, from the Government of the state of Sikkim, India, who is interested in developing the initiative in his region.

Dr. Robert Kittel and Dr. Kishor gave presentations and facilitated group sessions during the workshop, working tirelessly to answer many challenging questions. Experienced educators at the workshop included the Director of Curriculum Development for the Government of Nepal.

A one-day layover in Hong Kong on the way back to the United States yielded a meeting with a teacher from one of the most prestigious schools in Hong Kong. He is planning to pilot the character education curriculum in his school.

Educators, parents, and community leaders all over the world are wondering how to deal with the sometimes pernicious influence of Western media and culture on their traditional values. Nepalese and Indians were especially grateful that the UPF character education initiative allows for a focus on key elements of traditional values while incorporating stories from local cultures and addressing the issues modern youth face.

For information about the Discovering the Real Me curriculum and order forms, visit

https://upf.org/bookstore/ce/index.php

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