India – “Make our institutions, home for the young”. Fr Stefano Martoglio at NECDBS

21 November 2022

(ANS – Vaduthala) – The sixth Biennial National Educational Conference of Don Bosco Schools (NECDBS) was held at Don Bosco Senior Secondary School, Vaduthala, from 16-19 November 2022. The educational conference was aimed at promoting quality education, exploring modern horizons in pedagogical methods, and refocusing the school education system on the preventive system proposed by St. John Bosco.

The three-day conference had pedagogical sessions, panel discussions, reflections, and deliberations on the theme Enhancing Child-Centred, Participatory and Experiential Learning Spaces. Manish Tewari, MP, inaugurated the conference. In his inaugural address, Tewari invited all the delegates to play a vanguard role in promoting critical thinking, and the ability to pause and reflect. The Honourable Justice Sophy Thomas delivered the keynote address, exhorting to enable the students to identify the wonder within them and to help them to dream and fly high. Fr Clive Telles, Salesian Provincial of the Province of Goa, presided over the inaugural function. Fr Telles asked the delegates to lead the young minds of the Don Bosco institutions out of their comfort and fear zones to the zones of growth and learning. 

Fr Biju Michael SDB, Salesian Regional Councillor for South Asia, and Fr Garcia Miguel Angel SDB, Salesian General Councillor of Youth Ministry, felicitated the gathering online. The inaugural session had the presence of Fr Shalbin Kalancherry, Vice Provincial of the Salesian Province of Bangalore, Fr Joy Nedumprambil, Economer of the Salesian Province of Bangalore, Fr Babu Manisserry, General Convenor, Sixth NECDBS, and other delegates from various Salesian Schools across India.

In his address, Fr Stefano Martoglio, Vicar of the Rector Major, thanked all the educators gathered for their interest in the pastoral care of the young. He reminded the delegates about the Christian development of the young with fidelity to the spirit and charism of St. John Bosco. “We need to help our children to grow up as individuals of character, capable of innovative thinking. To this end, we need to make our institutions a real home for the young, where their spiritual aspirations are met,” he said. Father Stefano also stressed the importance of Salesian loving kindness and a preventive system in the educational setups.

In the various sessions of the conference, many experts in the concerned field animated the delegates with their inputs and discussions. Father Dr Joe Kokkandathil SDB spoke on the need for emotional hygiene, and Father Dr Binu Scaria SDB on the Salesian cognitive behavioral approach. Father Dr Kokkandathil presented how unresolved emotional pain has become a contagion of today, and hence training educators, staff, and students in emotional hygiene are the need of the hour. In his presentation on Salesian Cognitive Behavioural Approach based on the Cognitive Behavioural Therapy founded by Aaron T Beck, Father Dr Scaria proposed a structured group mentoring programme involving a structured learning experience, Mindfulness Training and Happiness Training.

Fr John Parankimalil SDB, from Don Bosco Institute Guwahati, spoke on the theme Don Bosco: A Safe, Friendly and Growth Enhancing Home Away From Home. He highlighted physical presence, welcoming presence, motivating presence, personal presence, challenging presence, empathetic presence, and incarnational presence for the student community. 

Mr Joji Paul, General Secretary, CKSC and CBSE Master Trainer, quoting John Dewey, said "If you teach today's children the same how you taught yesterday, we rob them of their tomorrows.” With the new emerging Educational Policy at the national level, the times call for a paradigm shift in the field of education, and learning should be holistic, integrated, and enjoyable, he said. Dr Anna Neena George, Associate Professor and Research Guide, Dr Dada Vaidya College of Education, detailed the importance of making learning experientially with a shift from a dominating to empowering one, from a closed to open environment, from individual to group-based study, from measuring to comparing, from reserved to rapport based, from frustration to fun and from verbal to visual.

Neethu Krishna, a Clinical Research Professional, talked about kinaesthetic learning. Herein, the teachers should undergo a pedagogical shift making space for fearless learning, emotional maturing, and wholesome forming of children.

Fr Sivy Koroth SDB, South Asian Co-ordinator for Education to Faith, spoke on fostering religious dimension irrespective of religious backgrounds of the young, experiencing the person of Christ, active participation of the young in liturgy, creating appropriate settings for the young to encounter God and offering the young experiences of service and apostolic involvement.

Fr Robert Simon SDB, Co-ordinator for Education to Culture, presented the aims of Education to Culture: Helping young people to build a strong identity, emotional and affective maturity, Formation in a culture inspired by Salesian humanism, Human development and professional competence, and Reflection on the reasonableness of their faith.

The importance of offering social experiences to students was stressed in the session conducted by Fr Dr Joseph Manipadeth, South Asian Co-ordinator for Social Experience. He stressed the importance of building a family environment, offering group experiences, educating with the heart, being part of the social and ecclesial movements and creating a community of young adults.

Fr George Mannedeuppankuzhiyil, Executive Director, DB Tech, focused on the rising importance of vocational training as part of the educational curriculum. Unfortunately, in India, he said, vocational training is perceived often as inferior to the mainstream curriculum. Hence, there needs to be an attitudinal change. Vocational training has to be harmoniously integrated into the present-day system ensuring international equivalence, progression pathways, recognition of higher learning, multiple-level entry and exit, and an outcome-based approach. Sumanth Prabhu, co-founder and CEO of Kidvento, made his proposals for digital skill learning with the aim of holistic schooling with active and constructive screen time and choice-based and bite-sized learning.

The session on Music in Cognitive Process, jointly handled by Vibina Patric and Upamanyu Joseph, vocalists and music trainers, highlighted the importance of music in the cognitive process and explained it through various demonstrations.

Dr George Panikar, Founder and CEO of International STEAM Research- ISR and an eminent past pupil of Don Bosco, talked about moving towards futuristic technologies and a sustainable future. He advocated promoting research-based education and helping students to become mindful problem solvers, law-abiding and holistic citizens of tomorrow.

Gamification in learning, by Dr Manu Melwin Joy, Assistant Professor and Researcher at CUSAT and an eminent past pupil of Don Bosco, said, "Games present an opportunity for involved learning. It is not about what games one plays but what the game is doing to the mind of the one playing. Games are the new normal and the language of the children of the second millennium. So gamification is about making concepts game-like to make it interesting."

The session on Robotics, handled by Sunil Paul, CEO of Srishti Robotics, explained how to initiate a robotic lab in the school, design a curriculum and make changes according to the interest and feedback of students. He also exhibited the functioning of some of the robots designed by Srishti.

The scintillating cultural extravaganza presented by the various schools of the province of Bangalore mesmerized the delegates.

Fr Bastin Nellissery, SDB

Source: Don Bosco South Asia


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