Integrate moral and spiritual education into school curriculum
— HIV/AIDS consultant
December 15, 2002
The integration of moral and spiritual education into the school curriculum, primarily during a child’s formative years, is a solution to the many problems threatening society at present, including HIV\AIDS.
This is according to HIV\AIDS consultant, Dr Farzin Davachi, who believes that moral and spiritual crises are among the underlying causes of HIV\AIDS and other social ills.
Speaking at a one-day seminar on a spiritual approach to the challenge of HIV\AIDS, hosted on Friday at Le Meridien Pegasus by UNICEF, the Varqa Foundation and the International Baha’i Community, Davachi said that “[the disease] is not an isolated problem, but a problem among many social ills,” like alcoholism, violence and drug abuse.
An enormous amount of money, he said, is being spent on these problems, but not enough on the underlying causes which are not being addressed. “Until we address that, the suffering of humanity will continue...”
“Suppose we eliminate AIDS tomorrow,” he questioned, “when you wake up tomorrow will you have any other problems?”
He said it would be naive to address only AIDS when the disease was one among a multitude of social problems.
Pointing to China, Davachi said that of a population of 1.5B, the government says that as much as 5M persons are infected.
However, he was of the opinion that this is just the tip of the iceberg... and moreover, he observed that in 75% of those cases transmission occurs through syringes and needles - drug users - while only 25% of infections occur through sexual activity. While in the United States, he said, $13.5B had been spent on AIDS and $9.5B on drugs, which both still remain major problems.
His recommendation was that moral and spiritual education be put back into the school system as part of the curriculum, where universal values such as honesty, loyalty, and generosity could be taught and which would inspire persons to make moral decisions and act on a moral basis.
Citing Uganda as an example, he said in 1989, 38% of women between the ages 15-19 were infected with AIDS. However, after a programme of abstinence and fidelity was introduced in schools by President Yoweri Museveni, by 1997, this figure was down to 7.3 per cent, Davachi said.
Since that time, the number of AIDS cases in the Caribbean and South Africa, has risen catastrophically. South Africa alone, he said, accounted for 17,000 new cases a day.
Concerning vaccines and cures, he said that these will not guarantee the elimination of the disease, since it would always exist. Evidence of this was the fact that there were vaccines for tuberculosis and malaria, however deaths from these diseases were significant. Malaria alone accounts for 3M deaths a year in Africa, and this is why it was important that this teaching be done during the child’s formative years, he said, when children are more inclined to learn. He observed that parents leave their children alone and then say, `you must behave responsibly’ - “but on what education?” he asked.
He suggested that the integration of moral and spiritual education would create citizens not only concerned about themselves but also with the welfare and well-being of the nation. It is non-negotiable, he added, and must be taught, since it is the one fundamental purpose of all religion. “Everyone wishes to have a just and moral society... we must educate just and moral people.”