HAS THE SCHOOL SYLLABUS ACHIEVED THE ESSENCE OF BUDDHIST TEACHINGS?
By R.D Shanthilatha - Senior Lecturer, Uva College of Education
Education is something that spreads in a wide range. Education makes life simple and tremendous at the same time. Humans are phenomenal learning competencies.
Learning is the tool for creating a developmental country in which inadmissible notions are rejected and rebuilding a new world with morality.
The final objective of the modern education which is based on skill development is, to formulate a person with Knowledge, attitude, skills and a comprehensive personality. For this purpose, most of the countries in the world use three curricula,
- Subject related curriculum
- Curriculum for activities
- Core curriculum
In order to achieve the final objective of education, a variety of subjects are being taught. School education is like necklace stringed with pearls in a strong thread. That thread is the curriculum. It is timely to talk about the contribution of Buddhism as a subject in the process of bringing up a child with an outright personality.
Buddhism is a main subject which every student from grade 1 to 11 should study. There are ten objectives that should be accomplished in teaching Buddhism as a subject to primary grades.
- To inculcate behavioral patterns display the Buddhist identity.
- To make the students aware of the greatness of the Buddha and inculcate devotion
- To lead them to respect and worship the Triple Gems.
- To provide the opportunity to value and regard the historical Buddhist Shrines in Sri Lanka.
- To up bring them as Buddhists who follow the Buddhist customs and values.
- To develop a way of life according to great Buddhist biographies.
- To make them engage in ‘dhāna’ ‘sīla’ and ‘bhāwana’
- To introduce the essence of Buddhism using simple terms.
- To pave the way for a moral life by following Buddhist preaching.
- To inculcate concepts of religious reconciliation and unity.
Just as, 7 objectives of Buddhism are introduced to the secondary classes
- To induce a generation who values the Triple Gems, being good devotees and practice the values of Buddhism.
- To guide them how to overcome the challenges and build a meritorious life style according to Buddhism.
- Guide them to build a righteous personality by taking examples from the life of the ‘Bodhisattva’, the Buddha and noble characters among ‘Upāsaka’ and ‘Upāsikā’.
- To build a future generation with pride, responsibility and an accountability
- To guide them to build their life according to the words of the doctrine in ‘Dhamapada’ and doctrinal allegories
- To encourage the students to practice meditation with the aim of developing a moral personality with mindfulness
- To build a future generation who holds the Buddhist identity and respect reconciliation by studying the highlights of Buddhist civilization
It is arguable that, even though the intents of teaching Buddhism as a subject are categorized, Does the school education satisfy those intents? It is timely to discuss if the Sri Lankan modern school education carry out that intent at least to a certain extent.
There is an opinion that, virtues in the Sri Lankan society are currently degrading. The unsociable activities that’s been happening day by day in Sri Lanka proves this. Buddhism being the main religious subject in Sri Lankan school education system; we are held accountable for this.
Religion has been taught in schools as a subject since decades, yet, the society keeps degrading social values. It does not happen because of the immorality of the religious concepts but the improper application of the values.
By the time the students complete the primary education they have already accomplished ten skills in Buddhism. The same set of students accomplish another seven intents in secondary grades. Yet, when they are out of the school and socialize as adults they tend to engage in various anti-social activities. Not only boys but also girls engage in many anti-social activities. In particular, drug addiction, thefts and child abuse are being increased.
In order to do away with this situation, learning and teaching must be brought in to the real-life situations deviating from adherence to the theory. Learning and teaching should address the affective domain majorly.
As an example, for senior secondary students ‘Samatha’ and ‘Vipassana’ meditation is included in the syllabus. It should not be limited as a subject matter; students should practically engage in mediation and these meditations should be made a habit that is applicable in everyday life.For that, the syllabus content should be retrieved in a practical way and the teaching method should be creative.
Just as, when teaching Buddhism in primary grades, religious activities that are more likable by kids should be carried out. As an example, worshiping, religious trips, visits to temples and religious traditions can be carried out. Since both the primary and secondary education are competency based, student centered and activity based practicality should be high.
In assessment and evaluation of Buddhism, priority should be given to practical based assignments. Observation, exploration, field trips, miming, drama, puppetry methods, discussions and oral questions can be used in that case.
Mainly, not only knowledge but also attitudes and skills are too important in building a person with a successful personality. Religion is important in building a complete, successful personality with no flaws; therefore, religious education must always guide students to detach negative attitudes and attach positive attitudes. That way the student can make opportunity to develop their skills.
In day-to-day life students must be able to incorporate notions, ethics and religious behavior while choosing the most suitable thing for them; through this subject, skills related to religion and ethics can be fulfilled. The student should assimilate or accommodate new information while the teacher becomes the knowledge transformer.
All the same, out of the basic competencies which underpins achieving the national objectives, building competencies related to religion and ethics should be the responsibility of the subject Buddhism and assessment and evaluation should be practical.
© Satipatthana Magazine