|| Merton | | Spiritual | | Service | | Youth | | SSE ||
Introduction to Merton Sai Spritual Education
SSE classes conducted at Merton Sai Centre
At Merton Sai Centre , we have about 200 children of different nationality and religions. The children are placed in classes/groups according to their date of births. There are two Nursery classes consisting of Nursery 1 for children of 4-5 years old, and Nursery 2 which has children of 5-6 years old. Group 1 takes children from the age of 6-9 years old and is divided into 3 classes, Group 2 has children between the age of 9+ -12 years old again divided into three groups, and group 3 consists of children between the ages of 12+ -15 years old in three groups. Group 4 takes up children who have graduated at the age of 15 + to 16 years old.
Classes are conducted every Sunday of the school academic year. They start at 13.20 hrs with first assembly and end at 14.40 hrs with second assembly joined by the parents and relevant announcements are made about the future activities of the SSE classes and also about the Centre’s activities.
Wearing of white uniform is compulsory in the centre, Each child is issued with a cream colour scarf with different colour ribbon borders to separate the child in his/her house -yellow and blue for the boys. Red, green and maroon for the girls, these represent the Five Human Values ( Truth, Peace, Right Conduct, Love and Non-Violence).
The classes are held in the Sai Mandir, as well as in the rooms in the first floor of the building. All the children sit in a circle on the floor with their Gurus(teachers) during lessons (to create an environment conducive to spiritual learning).
The students of Group 2 Year 3 (11 year olds) and Group 3 Year 2 (14 year olds) sit for the National examinations in July. In their last year (15 years) they do two projects of practical nature which sums up their knowledge of the SSE programme.
Group 4 classes are held fortnightly covering general topics suitable for the age group and as interactive sessions to encourage the young people to gain self confidence.
History of SSE teaching program
Sai Spiritual Education (Balvikas) was launched in 1969 by our Lord Himself - Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba in order to restore the practice of Dharma (right conduct) in the world. This is a unique spiritual and moral Education Programme conducted by the Education Wing of the Sri Sathya Sai Organisation in over 150 countries throughout the world.
Progress of SSE in the UK
Here in the U.K., with our Lord’s Grace, the Sai Spiritual Education (SSE) wing has progressed well. Since 1994, one by one, books of lesson plans for all the classes ( 4 years – 15 year olds) had been compiled to be used by the trained teachers. In addition a ‘Teacher’s Manual’ was also compiled to guide the trained teachers in their administration and teaching methods.
SSE is a eleven year programme for children between the ages of 4 year olds to 15 year olds. This moral and spiritual education classes help the children to develop their own innate qualities of Truth, Righteousness, Love, Peace and Non Violence. They are taught the main teachings of the major religions of the world (Hinduism, Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, Zoroastrianism, Sikhism etc.) as well as about the life of great men and women such as Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, Joan of Arc, Louis Pasteur and many others.
We use the Five Teaching Techniques to develop the child’s personality and to achieve the maximum potential of each child. The teaching tools are – Prayers, Story telling, Group Activities, Group Devotional singing (Bhajans) and Silent sitting.
The SSE children present a festival (of different faiths) at the end of the children’s bhajan held on every first Sunday of the month. These vary from Christmas Nativity play to Diwali, the Chinese New Year, Wesak or any other special festival falling in that particular month. Each class takes turns to produce this presentation.
Easwaramma day is celebrated in a grand way with all the children taking part in programmes organized by the teachers. Many parents help in the production of plays, costumes etc. The themes are mostly selected from Sai Teachings.
Many of our SSE/Balvikas children have taken part in various ‘Sai Mahima’ dance dramas performed in the divine presence of our Lord Sathya Sai Baba in India.
Currently there are twenty SSE teachers who have been trained in Puttaparthi and/or in the UK., four youths (who are ex-SSE children) and two adult helpers. Each class is taken by two teachers and other assistants wherever necessary. We conduct regularly parents /teacher’s meeting as well as home visits.
Other Activities of the SSE children
All the pupils of the centre are encouraged to take part in the Regional Sports’ Day during the summer holidays. This event is very popular amongst children and parents alike - it is a great family “fun day” for all. We also have Sai Camps for children of Group 2 Year 3 onwards when the children spend the weekend in the premises. They enjoy a weekend pack full of activities and team building work organized by the Youths and the teachers.
Visits to places of worship are arranged for the children of Group 2 and 3 onwards to see, learn and understand the way people of other faiths pray to the one and only God.
Group 3 children participate in the Conservation projects carried by the Youths and Adults of the Centre together with the London Borough of Merton who organize the activity. Recently, they have been allocated “their” spot (Sai Cholai) to maintain along the river Wandle in Wimbledon for the benefit of the local community. They take great delight in tree planting, river cleaning, and planting flowers in front of the Police station of Wimbledon etc.
The children join our youth to entertain the elderly of the borough on a regular basis as part of the age-link programme. This activity is very popular with both the children (who can display their talents in the shape of music, dance, jokes, or simply offering a sympathetic listening ear) and the elderly people (who “adopt” a little friend when they come to the Centre). This is very valuable to the children as it brings them out of their shell, builds their self-confidence and helps them later in life. On January 1st 2006, fifty six of our ex-SSE children attended/participated in a cultural evening to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Sai Mandir.