YUVA Academy expands its wings. On Thursday, 26 September 2019, YUVA completed another round of its Moral and Civic Education (MCE) Programme. Through the training, the young students were able to engage in stimulating conversations about philosophical, creative, analytical and critical thinking.
In the first session, the Grade 10 and 12 students of the Bhujoharry College La Tour Koenig took their seats in the classroom, both full of expectation yet somewhat reserved. After introducing himself the trainer, Mr Padayachy started the session by explaining YUVA’s mission as an organisation and detailing the acronym: Youth United in Voluntary Action (YUVA). He went on to explain what the MCE programme is about. He then asked the students whether, and to what extent, they had already encountered these teaching contents. Many responded shyly to this question; most students are not often confronted with the themes of morality, critical or independent thinking, or even individuality.
The concept of respect is central to the MCE programme. Students listened attentively and participated when asked what respect means for them. Some said respect means greeting the people around you, and for others, it meant treating family well. This ensued with a discussion about self-respect and the importance of good self-presentation. To illustrate this concept, the trainer and a student took turns acting as employers and potential employees in search of jobs, to put into context the value of projecting confidence. While acknowledging that adolescence is a tumultuous time, emphasis was placed on the need for respectful behaviour towards those around us.
The session continued with the importance of respecting teachers, which led to a larger conversation about education. The trainer asked students if any of them were curious. Most of the room put up their hands. He then framed reading as a way to get answers to questions, and to find new ones as well. He also advised them on searching for information using reputable sources, such as school libraries and reference books, instead of relying too strongly on websites. The students were encouraged to take advantage of the education system in Mauritius, and to follow their interests, reading things they would like to know more about.
Throughout the entire course, the students were encouraged to be confident and have positive self-esteem. The students were asked to speak loudly while standing when participating, and waves of applause regularly occurred after insightful responses. They were also encouraged to take this course and themselves seriously; the students were made aware that opportunities are everywhere, and that it is up to them to put their hearts into what they are doing.
In the second session, the connection between the trainer and the students was evident; a story about a pilot during a flight had everyone in the room laughing! Students were asked what careers interested them and were encouraged to pursue their dreams of being veterinarians, mechanics, and pilots, to name a few.
The course ended powerfully. All participating students were awarded the YUVA Academy certificates, confirming their completion of the MCE course. The students were asked to chant “Yes we can!” and “Yes we will succeed!” The room was full of energy as the chorus of voices repeated these words with confidence. Students left with smiles on their faces and confidence in their steps.