UNESCO Withdrawal from Puttaparti Coference of Values Education

THE EDUCATION & VALUES CONFERENCE AT PRASHANTHI NILAYAM, 2000
Here are copies of the UNESCO MEDIA ADVISORY on their withdrawal and the reasons for it:-



RUSSIAN EDUCATION IN HUMAN VALUES LEADER SERGEI BADAEV'S REPORT

In 2000 the Sathya Sai Baba Organization and ashram made much hullabaloo about how UNESCO and Sathya Sai Baba were to co-ordinate an educational conference at Prashanthi Nilayam. However, the notices shown at the foot of this page were posted on UNESCO’s official website.

These notices of withdrawal remained there for some years until the Indian government was begged by Sai Baba officials to take up the matter with UNESCO and demand its removal (see scan below). The prime mover in this action was leader of Sai Baba’s propaganda machine – the former atom-bomb involved Dr. G. Venkataraman (a full believer in Sathya Sai Baba's absurd claim that he was the God Creator of the Universe!). In the event, UNESCO were forced by its own rules regarding the rights of its member nations to make a formal apology, stating that it was removed from their archives. However, it still remains in their internet archive. Amusingly, no amount of forced apology from UNESCO could possibly conceal the fact that they withdrew from the Conference and never had anything more whatever to do with Sathya Sai Baba or his amateurish value education system. 

Radio Sai published the following:-
"A plan was then evolved to take up the matter at the highest quarters. Mr. Kalyan Ray who was then on a visit to India, sought and obtained an appointment with Mr. Yashwant Sinha, then India’s Foreign Minister or Minister for External Affairs, as we say in India. Mr Sinha is a devotee of Swami and has visited Puttaparthi on a few occasions. Mr Sinha gave Kalyan Ray a careful hearing and was appalled to hear about the UNESCO affair.
Meanwhile, I also happened to meet Mr. Rasgotra, former Foreign Secretary. Mr. Rasgotra had, at one time, served as India’s Ambassador to France during which time he was also India’s representative to the UNESCO. Thus, Mr. Rasgotora had contacts at the UNESCO, and I told him that he must do something to make the UNESCO appreciate that they cannot act irresponsibly and put objectionable matters in their website merely based on hearsay.
Both these approaches clicked. The long and short of it was that the Government of India asked the Indian representative to UNESCO to take up the entire matter with concerned officials at the other end. Thus, the Indian representative wrote a letter, somewhere in early 2004 I believe, from which I quote a part. The letter said:

The media Advisory dated September 15th 2000, and viewable at the address: www.unesco.org/education/highlights/media_advisory is posted to explain UNESCO’s inability to participate in a Conference organised by the Institute of Sathya Sai Education [Thailand]. In doing so, it attempts to gravely tarnish the reputation of the Sathya Sai movement by casting aspersions on the personal integrity and character of its leader, based on hearsay, and unconfirmed reports.
Shri Sathya Sai Baba is a highly respected spiritual leader and public figure in India and abroad. It is well known that the life and message of Shri Sathya Sai Baba has been devoted to promoting peace, non-violence, social harmony and is a moving force behind numerous philanthropic social projects. In this context, it is pertinent to mention that the UN Settlements Project [UN-HABITAT] launched a major education initiative three years ago, using human values approach propounded by Shri Sathya Sai Baba, to introduce a values-based water education programme though the national curriculum in Africa. The initiative has been widely accepted at high political levels and among educationists in Africa and is now being replicated by the UN-HABITAT and the Asian Development Bank in Asia and the Pacific. You will agree that issuance of a casual and negligent press release by the UNESCO cannot but do disservice to such valuable projects.

Government of India considers Shri Sathya Sai Baba and his movement a national asset and takes strong exception to UNESCO press release, which spreads wholly unfounded and unsubstantiated allegation against Shri Sathya Sai Baba.

I would therefore request you to take immediate steps to remove the objectionable press advisory from the UNESCO website. I would also appreciate an expression of regret for the damage caused to one of India ’s revered public figures, without first verifying the facts and any consultations with Indian authorities."
(Excerpt - read more at media.radiosai.org /journals/Vol_04/01JUL06/The_UNESCO_Story.htm)

Sergei Badaev attended the 2000 Conference (without UNESCO's involvement), since at that time he was both President of the Moscow Sathya Sai Centre and, together with his wife, led the entire Russian branch of the Education in Human Values programme under the name of Sathya Sai Baba. His long article is edited down here below so as to emphasize the main point. It may however be viewed in full here.
UNESCO conference without UNESCO    notes of a participant Date: 01-13-02 From: Serguei Badaev <badaev57*mtu-net.ru>

In the summer of 1999 Dr Art-ong Jumsai, director of the Institute of Sathya Sai Education (ISSE), Thailand, publicly announced that there would be a significant UNESCO conference devoted to human values education to be held in Prashanti Nilayam.


The goal of the conference as it was publicly declared by Dr Jumsai, was to present the program of moral and spiritual education SSEHV to the world, first of all to those who may influence decisions in the field of educational policy in their respective countries. However the official title of the conference was as follows: "Strengthening Values Education: Innovative Approaches to Teacher Education for Peace and International Understanding". It seemed that it was not quite the same idea that had been declared previously.

The conference was declared to be co-organized by UNESCO, Institute of Sathya Sai Education (ISSE, Thailand) and the (Australia), and was scheduled for 25 till 29 September 2000 in Prashanti Nilayam, Sai Baba's main ashram in India.

Absence of UNESCO and Flinders University not explained.


At the height of the conference preparation, a letter was distributed throughout the Sai Organization informing readers that UNESCO and the Flinders University had withdrawn from participating in the conference. No reasons were given to explain their sudden decision. Those who were involved in inviting participants for the conference, especially VIPs, found themselves in a very awkward situation: they had to inform the candidates about UNESCO and the Flinders University withdrawals but they had no information to explain what had happened. (At the time I did not know that a letter from the UNESCO headquarters in Paris concerning this conference was posted on the Internet. This letter contained the information that UNESCO had withdrawn from the conference and was concerned about the allegation of sexual abuse involving youths and children that were levelled at Sathya Sai Baba.) Quite naturally, some candidates refused to take part in the conference, and the organizing committee allowed the Sai Organization members who were involved in the SSEHV program to join the conference. As a result, about half of the participants were members of the Sai Organization.
No theoretical or practical aspects discussed, no current situation presented.

Exchange of ideas and experience is encouraged in theory only.

The goal of the conference is not met. Perhaps there were some hidden goals that were not proclaimed. Some participants felt that the very presence of so many people in the holy atmosphere of the ashram and divine vibrations of Sai Baba could be considered as a great achievement.

Have you been to one of these gatherings then you know them all.
It is interesting to note that this conference seemed very typical of the conferences and seminars which were conducted earlier by the Sai Organization in Prashanti Nilayam and abroad. Before the 2000 conference I had taken part in two seminars for teachers and teacher trainers in Prashanti Nilayam in 1998 and 1999 as well as in a number of seminars conducted by European ESSE Institute. Their characteristic feature is a rather low professional level.
As for the content: all those seminars were designed as if everybody in the audience heard about the SSEHV program for the first time. So after the first of my seminars I could not learn anything new for me during those activities. At those seminars and conferences I was always surprised at the fact that we did not talk about children. Speakers often presented quotations from Sai Baba but never related to the world pedagogical heritage. It seemed that all this work was going on in a sort of a pedagogical vacuum, in complete isolation from what had been done in this field by humanity as a whole.

Neither focussed nor informative. Sai Baba delivered inaugural and valedictory addresses From an academic point of view it was neither well-focused nor informative.
Obviously, this conference should be considered as a failure, because it could not meet the declared goals.

A short visit to one or more schools is never on the program.

There is another very confusing detail concerning educational seminars and conferences that have been conducted in the Prashanti Nilayam ashram. Despite of the fact that all these educational forums have been held in the ashram, where in the neighbourhood there are primary and secondary schools founded by Sai Baba, as well as the Institute of Higher Learning, deemed University, the Chancellor of which is Sai Baba himself, I know of no occasion when within the framework of those seminars and conferences (including September 2000) visits to the schools or the Institute were arranged. This is especially strange as those schools and Institute have often been held up to be educational models for the world.

Mistakes and failures not acknowledged.

It seems to be extremely difficult for the Sai Organization to acknowledge its mistakes and failures. It might be a result of a literal following of Sai Baba's instruction "to see only good, to hear only good, etc." It might also be a desire to keep its reputation and save its image of an organization which can't fail because the Lord of Lords himself is its spiritual leader.

Anyway, after all that happened to the so called UNESCO conference in September 2000, it was not quite correct for "Sanathana Sarathi" to publish that "Dr. Leonarda Jekantaite, Secretary General of UNESCO (Lithuania) presented the Keynote Address. " (Sanathana Sarathi, vol. 43, October 2000, p. 317). Though she was 'Secretary-general' of the Lithuanian branch of UNESCO, she was not accredited to represent UNESCO at the conference. This she confirmed to Robert Priddy by e-mail when he had investigated the matter with UNESCO. She stated that she had been there as a private person interested in Eastern values education. Giving her full UNESCO title "Sanathana Sarathi" made readers think that she was an official UNESCO representative. This amounts to face-saving deceit.

It was also very strange and confusing to read in the inaugural speech of I. Shah, the international president of the Sathya Sai Organization, at the 7th World Conference (November 2000, Prashanti Nilayam) the following words: "In this context, let me share with you that US magazine "Week" has chosen to give respect to the UNESCO conference held in Prasanthi Nilayam highlighting the message of Bhagawan on 'Values for All'". (20.11.2000. Materials of the 7th World Conference of the Sai Organization). It does not matter whether the "Week" has published anything about the conference or not. The matter is that I. Shah has consciously deceived his spiritual brothers and sisters using UNESCO's name for the conference, whereas UNESCO had nothing to do with it.

The above bears out much that I have reported about my involvement as the Norwegian representative of the Education in Human Values programme, which I helped in improving as best I could to make it a little less amateurish and by introducing a higher standard required of its voluntary and non-professional teachers. The many failings of the so-called EHV education in secular societies which recognise human rights, justice, and social equality - as well as duty of care and mandatory reporting - can be examined in the following articles:-


SAI BABA'S "FIVE HUMAN VALUES"
 Summary of the conceptual and pedagogical problems in Sai Baba's supposedly "human" values and the teaching of them
WHERE THE HUMAN VALUES TEACHINGS FALL SHORT AND ARE WRONG
Human values must include human rights, democratic rights, social equality, women's rights, gender rights and above all human justice and law. The rigid and unchanging ''five human values' Sai Baba promotes definitively exclude all these, as do his simplistic and often unpedagogical educational ideas.
SAI BABA DISCOURSE ON EDUCATION A brief look at some of his statements
HUMAN VALUES AS COMMON OR UNIVERSAL VALUES? 
Human values can be shared, but can they be they shared universally when they are not practiced universally? Being human values they are socially, culturally and politically variable in expression and not least in practice.
SATHYA SAI EDUCATION IN HUMAN VALUES EXPOSED as a censorious, amateur sect
THE INDIAN SKEPTIC EXAMINES SATHYA SAI EDUCATION'S FAILINGS
FALSE PROPAGANDA ABOUT THE EHV PROGRAMME ETC.

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