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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

SAES is now starting its own teacher education institute


Within just 46 days of having been a mute witness to the strangulation of Mirambika on April 14th, 2015 by Pranjal Jauhar, on May 30th, 2015, after having signed on and submitted papers and affidavits before the AICTE declaring that no school exists / shall exist in the Mirambika building, accepting that no other courses will run alongside the AICTE approved courses from there and while continuing to defend the proposed engineering college in public, the then Secretary and present Chairman of SAES, Dr. Ramesh Bijlani, posted the following article on his blog: 
For ease of reference, the said article is reproduced below with our questions and comments in bold italics within brackets.
One of the welcome changes that the National Council of Teacher Education (NCTE) has finally introduced is to increase the duration of the B.Ed. course from one year to two. The longer duration is necessary, but not sufficient, to bring about a meaningful change in the teacher education courses. The material for the necessary changes is available in plenty with the pockets of excellence existing in the country. But these pockets have not been able to make a dent on mainstream school education because teachers who can duplicate these pockets are too few to meet the requirements of the country. Such teachers are not available because the conventional one-year B.Ed. course does not equip our teachers to handle any radical change. Apart from the experience accumulated by the centres of excellence that are scattered throughout the country, we have excellent guidelines available from recent thinkers such as Sri Aurobindo, Swami Vivekananda, Rabindranath Tagore and Mahatma Gandhi, and also cues available from the rest of the world, particularly from countries that have contributed phenomenally to modern science during the last three hundred years. What we need while designing our new teacher education courses is what Sri Aurobindo has called the process of critical assimilation. Critical assimilation means that we first learn and understand all the relevant material irrespective of its source, and then use our critical faculties to choose what we would accept and what we would reject. The important thing is that if we accept something, it should be because we understand it; and if we reject something, that should also be because we understand it.
(If the conventional one-year B.Ed. course does not equip our teachers to handle any radical change such as the one required by the philosophy of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, why is SAES now proposing a regular college of education together with the engineering college? How can such a college of education coexist with an AICTE approved engineering college? Why can’t Mirambika school coexist with such a college per NCTE guidelines?)
The Sri Aurobindo Education Society (SAES), New Delhi, was inspired by an experiment in school education that the Mother initiated in Puducherry about 75 years ago. The experiment has continued in Delhi for about six decades through our schools, The Mother’s International School and Mirambika Free Progress School. But these, and other centres of excellence in the country, can hope to make a dent on mainstream school education only if adequately equipped teachers are made available in the country through a thoroughly revised revolutionary teacher education course. That is what the SAES is now planning to do by starting its own teacher education institute which would prepare teachers of the future for the award of B.Ed. and B.El.Ed. degrees.
(You say that the Mirambika Free Progress School is a centre of excellence. How can a center of excellence be a failure as claimed by Pranjal Jauhar? If indeed the college of education is your / SAES vision, why did SAES not apply for a college of education instead of the engineering college? Why have you signed on and submitted papers and affidavits before the AICTE declaring that no other courses will run alongside the AICTE approved courses from the Mirambika building?)
Project consciousness
For the SAES, a teacher education institute is part of a much broader vision that Sri Aurobindo and the Mother gave us. Briefly, they acknowledged the fact that the problems of human existence such as evil, injustice, misery and suffering will not disappear unless the level of human consciousness on the planet Earth goes up significantly. For this to happen, either we can wait for the slow process of evolution, or we can also contribute to the process by our own efforts, thereby accelerating the process. While it is possible for individuals to raise their consciousness, the level will rise on a global scale only if a sufficiently large number of individuals engage in the effort, thereby generating that critical mass of people that can raise the average level of consciousness perceptibly. This is a futuristic vision, and the best way to give this vision a shape is to make the next generation experience the peace, love and joy that rising in consciousness brings. The best place to provide that experience is the school. To the SAES, equipping schoolteachers with the tools by which they can bring this experience to schoolchildren is part of the ‘Project Consciousness’.
(If indeed “For the SAES, a teacher education institute is part of a much broader vision that Sri Aurobindo and the Mother gave us”, why did SAES discontinue the teacher training institute which was running alongside Mirambika in terms of SAES Secretary Mr. Kashyap’s affidavit submitted with the DDA in 1984? If indeed, “The best place to provide that experience is the school”, why is SAES taking steps to undermine and create circumstances in vain for closing the 34 year old school – Mirambika? Where will the students of your teacher education institute practice the methodology of integral education per the philosophy of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother? Or is it that SAES has abandoned that philosophy for good or gain? )

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