IT'S BEEN A PLEASURE opening the mail in response to my first columns. Readers seem excited about the plans and programs mentioned.
The real surprise, however, was how many people offered help in various ways. The puzzle for me was how to take the offers and channel them.
Well, good news for everyone who's wanted to get their foot in the door and help build an educational system for the Hare Krsna movement. Now you can directly take part, at the most fundamental level, in planning, organizing, and taking all the steps needed to make a strong school system in your part of the world.
Early this year in Mayapur, India, at the annual meeting of ISKCON's governing body commission (GBC), we reorganized ISKCON's approach to developing our school system. Now there are eight regional boards of education, each responsible for the progress of primary and secondary schooling in one area: North America, South America, Europe, Africa, eastern India, western India, Southeast Asia, and Australia/ New Zealand.
Each area was assigned a GBC member, who is duty-bound to see to the organization and progress of the regional board. This year, each is responsible to see to forming the board, inviting all interested parties to get involved, and reaching certain goals set by ISKCON's International Board of Education. Currently, a top priority is to make sure that each ISKCON-affiliated school has implemented ISKCON's strict policies for preventing child abuse.
The International Board of Education has a five-year plan for developing curricula, training teachers, getting schools certified, helping former students, developing reading materials for our children, and so on. It's a broad agenda, but by working on the regional level we can reach goals beyond the resources of local schools but suited to the needs of local cultures and areas.
Beyond the priorities assigned by the International Board, we hope the regional boards will take the initiative in cooperating to find teachers, pool resources in curriculum development, organize fund-raising campaigns, encourage experienced schools to help new ones, and so on. Conventions of headmasters and teachers should become regular events.
Ideally, every school will send its headmaster or principal, as well as a teacher or two, to each regional board meeting. But there's room for many others to take part also. We need people willing to take charge of (or at least help with) curriculum development, networking home schools, solving legal problems, writing and illustrating children's books, raising funds, training teachers…. The possibilities are limitless.
Of course, getting the regional boards off the ground is not going to be an easy task. We'll have to travel to meet together, give our time and energies, and take on new commitments. But if you're serious about having a real influence on the development of ISKCON's school system, now is the time to act.
If you would like to take part, please contact me at the address or phone number at the bottom of this column. I'll put you in touch with the GBC member responsible for organizing your regional board of education.
As always, I strongly recommend that you learn more about ISKCON education by subscribing toISKCON Educational Journal, four issues for $10.00 in the U.S. and Canada or $13.00 elsewhere. A free sample issue is available for the asking. Also, for $10.00 we have available the manual "Preventing Child Abuse in ISKCON."
I look forward to meeting many of you face to face in the future in a regional board of education meeting in your part of the world.
Sri Rama Dasa, Chairman, ISKCON Board of Education, 3764 Watseka Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90034, USA.