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Character Education

Educators Forum Held in Lithuania

Vilnius, Lithuania - UPF-Lithuania held a forum on the theme “Educating youth as a step towards a harmonious society.” Addressing the debated issue of youth crimes in Lithuania, the Oct. 26, 2013 forum also commemorated the eighth anniversary of Dr. and Mrs. Sun Myung Moon’s visit to the country to establish the Universal Peace Federation. Over 40 participants attended the meeting, including school directors, educators and NGO representatives.

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Opening remarks were given by Mr. Raimondas Urbonas, UPF-Lithuania chairman, who chaired the first session on the theme “Character education in the school system.” The first speaker was Mrs. Ramune Zelioniene from the Human Pedagogy Association. Showing a few captivating educational experiments on video, she emphasized that education should not be imposed on the child but should be a process that draws out and fulfills his/her potential. Then Mr. Jacques Marion, Coordinator for UPF in the Baltics, briefly reviewed the early character education projects run by the International Educational Foundation in the CIS countries (Commonwealth of Independent States including members of the former Soviet Union), introduced the UPF character education curriculum “Discovering the Real Me,” and gave an overview of the UPF philosophy of education which integrates heart, norms and creativity, with a special focus on sexual ethics.

Then the session’s co-chair, Mrs. Danute Krisciuniene, an Ambassador for Peace, school director and president of the NGO “Active Women” in the city of Panevezhys, launched the discussion after offering a few comments relating the presentations with current issues in the school system.

The second session was chaired by Mrs. Roma Karagezian from the Lithuanian chapter of the Women’s Federation for World Peace (WFWP), the cosponsoring organization. Introducing briefly the NGO’s activities around the world and in Eurasia, she explained her intention to revive its activities in Lithuania, drawing the interest of participating women. The next speaker was Mrs. Jolanta Lipeviciene, head of the NGO “Corner of Light.” An experienced social worker, active with the Lithuania National Parents’ Forum, Mrs. Lipkeviciene shared through many examples about the importance of cultivating people’s conscience, not only skills, teaching children about human relationships and acknowledging the divine image within each child. An active discussion followed.

Speakers and participants expressed the desire that their NGOs cooperate with UPF and WFWP. The conclusions of the conference will be presented to the Committee on Education at the Parliament, the Education Development Center and the Ministry of Education.

One of the positive elements of the conference was the presence of participants from four cities of Lithuania. In addition to the participants from the capital, Vilnius, invited by local UPF leaders and volunteers, there was a delegation of nine women from the city of Panevezhys accompanied by Ambassador for Peace Mrs. Danute Krisciuniene; a Christian NGO leader and a local community leader from Siaulai; and a Catholic priest, professor of international law, from the city of Kaunas.

Contributed by Raimondas Urbonas, Chair, UPF-Lithuania

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