When I first heard about Mama Papa & Me, I was excited for so many reasons. The education of children is a tremendously important duty in the Baha’i Faith. In fact, Abdu’l-Baha calls it “among the most meritorious acts of humankind”.
So when I found out that Mama Papa & Me focuses on education during the early years, which is now widely recognised among educators as being the crucial years in which the foundation for a person’s lifelong learning and wellbeing is formed, I was fascinated and wanted to know more about their Early Years Education Programme.
And then, when I discovered that Mama Papa & Me’s focus was not just on the early years, but also on helping parents and caregivers develop the capabilities they need as the first educators of their children, I definitely wanted to know more!
Serendipitiously, a family wedding brought me to London, which is where Danielle Pee, the amazingly talented founder of Mama Papa & Me, is currently based. And so I jumped on the opportunity to sit down with her and ask all my questions.
What started as a conversation about education, parenting and the work that Mama Papa & Me is doing ended up becoming a deeper conversation about capacity-building and the Baha’i approach to community development, as well as an illuminating discussion about what it means, in very practical terms, for Baha’is to attempt to contribute towards the advancement of civilization.
I gained so much from my conversation with Danielle, not just in terms of my own professional interest in education and community development, but also personally, as I listened to the story of her own inspiring journey and the many lessons she has learned along the way. I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I did! Continue reading
Photo Courtesy: jarnah.com
Eleven weeks, one day, eight hours and three minutes ago my life changed forever. With the birth of our first child, I went from being an independent individual – responsible for nobody but myself – to a mother.This new task of motherhood is both difficult and precious as, all at once, I have been given the opportunity – and the challenge – to shape and raise a human being.
Abdu’l-Baha says that ‘…mothers are the first educators of mankind; if they be imperfect, alas for the condition and future of the race.’ Uh oh! And as the first educators of the young, our task as mothers is to free them ‘from human imperfections and to acquire the divine perfections latent in the heart of man.’ Ah, that’s a fairly lofty goal. How and when do I rise to meet this challenge?
The recent arrests of some Baha’i’s in Iran for running the Baha’i Institute for Higher Education (BIHE) has been met with outrage across the world.
Iran’s attack on Bahá’í educators has also struck a strong chord with me for a number of reasons.
The BIHE is an online university and it was established in 1987 for Bahá’ís in Iran. Bahá’ís in Iran have repeatedly been denied access to a higher education ever since the 1979 Iranian Revolution. A leaked confidential Iran memo in 2006 (from Iran’s Ministry of Science, Research and Technology) exposes a government-level policy to deny Bahá’í students university education.
I’m a Bahá’í, and I’ve had the opportunity to go to university, graduate, and now specialise in adult education – but hey, I don’t live in Iran. To be honest, I never thought going to university was such a big deal. I just saw it as a natural continuation from my schooling years. My only source of stress during my university years was waiting to see if my marks were good enough to get into the course of my choice, as well as some of the last minute study cramming I used to do for my exams. In fact, my years at university were some of the best years of my life, so far! This is why I find it confusing and unthinkable that Bahá’í students in Iran are repeatedly denied the opportunity to pursue a further education, and even be arrested for trying! Continue reading