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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: ‘Take the lead if you have passion for people, society’

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Chennai: Spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, who mastered the Art of Living, urged Gen Y to enter into the country’s political scene and ‘make the change’ in a conference on Wednesday.

Present in The New Indian Express ThinkEdu Conclave, the spiritual guru said, “Politicians are not some special class or species who have come from another planet. They are one among you, among us. So, one of you must take the lead. If you have the passion for people and service to society, you must come.”

Discussing among the gathering of curious students and academics on the wrong way politicians view their ‘jobs’ in today’s time, he said, “Unfortunately in this country and everywhere else in the world, politics is no longer a service, it has lost its sheen and respect, which it had during the time of Kamaraj and Mahatma Gandhi and a few generations before us. That needs to be set right.” He exhorted the youth to make that change, en masse. “Not one or two persons can do it, but all of you collectively can. Youth of this country have the power to bring change. So you need to ask politicians whether they’re here for service or business.”

He also spoke on the country’s ever burning issue of Corruption. Calling it a debilitating factor that took a toll not only on politics but also impacted several spheres, he held corruption responsible for obstructing a nation’s progress.

“Corruption has entered every field. One of the biggest reasons is the lack of education. It should create a sense of belonging. The sense of belonging is the only way to combat corruption. Corruption begins where this sense of belonging ends and to create this, education must be attuned to human values,” he said and added, “Whether religion should be taught in schools or not is secondary. Students should be taught ethics and values first. That is essential.”

Claiming ‘yoga’ and ‘ayurveda’ of being mediums to imbibing ethics necessary for an education with sound knowledge, Ravi Shankar said yoga should be mandatory in schools and colleges and imparted as an art.

The guru was further interrogated upon whether these practices, innately related with ‘Hindu’, give it a political colour, seeing the political repercussions on Yoga Day. He replied, “Just because Yoga or Ayurveda are part of Hinduism, it doesn’t mean that it won’t work for a non-Hindu. We are global citizens today and education has no boundaries.”

He emphasised that one should choose values and ethics without thinking twice, adding that many of the ethical and value-centric practices have their roots in Hindu culture. Despite that, they follow a scientific trajectory which proves the fact that religion and science could co-exist peacefully. (With inputs from The New Indian Express, Image Source: vishwagujarat.com)

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Focus on Menstrual Health Improving Education for Girls in Zambia

Chitentabunga Primary School, in rural Lusaka province, is one of the schools that has received reusable pads to distribute to its students

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Menstrual, Health, Zambian
FILE - Girls learn to make sanitary pads from imported water-proof materials in project sponsored by the Malawi NGO, Girls Empowerment Network (VOA / L. Masina) VOA

New health classes and government partnerships with not-for-profits focused on menstrual health are improving education for girls in Zambia.

In 2017, the government announced it would distribute free sanitary pads to girls in some rural and underserved areas. Two years later, menstrual hygiene management classes have been introduced in schools, and partnerships with organizations such as World Vision have brought reusable sanitary pads to rural communities.

Chitentabunga Primary School, in rural Lusaka province, is one of the schools that has received reusable pads to distribute to its students.

Educators at Chitentabunga say the pads have helped reduce absenteeism. In years past, 80 to 100 girls would miss classes at any given time due to menstrual issues across seven schools. Now, just five to 10 girls are out at any given time.

Menstrual, Health, Zambian
In 2017, the government announced it would distribute free sanitary pads to girls in some rural and underserved areas. Pixabay

“We used to have a lot of absenteeism, especially in mature girls, that is, girls that have started their menstrual periods. At a time when they go on their menstrual periods, these girls used to stay away from school,” Tyson Hachilangu, head teacher at Chitentabunga, said.

Girls at the school say the pads have improved their quality of life.

“Before this program was introduced, we used ordinary clothes, which would cause bruises. But now, the school gives us pads, and we also have a special bathroom where girls can go and clean up, in case she soils herself at school,” Choolwe Susu, a pupil at the school, said.

She added that the new resources have reduced the shame and teasing associated with menstruation.

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“Previously, boys used to laugh at girls who soil themselves at school, and this used to [cause] girls on menses to stay away from school. But now we can come to school, even on menses, because menstruation is normal for women, and without it there would be no humanity,” she said.

The program has also helped teach girls about pads, and schools have instituted policies to give girls space to practice proper hygiene.

“We are taught about pads. There are two types of pads. A pad is one that you wear with a pant, while a padden is one you wear without a pant. And if you spoil yourself, you have the right to tell your teacher, who will give you a pad, water and soap to clean yourself in the special bathroom,” Cnythia Choono, another pupil at Chitentabunga, said.

Zambia’s president, Edgar Lungu, told VOA the country intends to keep advocating for girls. “We want to cut down on early marriages,” he said. “We went to avoid maternal death.”

Menstrual, Health, Zambian
Two years later, menstrual hygiene management classes have been introduced in schools, and partnerships with organizations such as World Vision. Pixabay

So far, partnerships like the one with World Vision that brought interventions to Chitentabunga appear to be working. That could become a model for similar kinds of real-world impacts.

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“We have a responsibility to work with members of the community,” Lungu said. (VOA)