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5th National Conference of Don Bosco Schools ''Committed to accompanying the Young''
By Father Bernard Fernandes SDB
Mumbai, Oct. 3. Chennai: One hundred and fifty delegates from the 11 Salesian Provinces of India assembled for the 5th National Education Conference of Don Bosco Schools (NECDBS)convention at SRM University at Chennai from 28 Sep to 1 Oct 2018 organised by Father Charles Maria, South Asian Delegate for Youth Ministry (Don Bosco Youth Animation) and South Asian Coordinator for Education & Culture. This is an initiative of the Salesian Provincials Conference of South Asia.
The group of Salesians Principals from Mumbai Province who participated at the Convention.
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In an impressive keynote address, Dr Sandeep Sancheti, Vice Chancellor of SRM University appealed to the educators to use the new modus operandi of education (technology and internet) to creatively uncover the subject and not cover the syllabus routinely in an age where life-long learning is here to stay.

The theme aptly chosen as 'Committed to accompanying the young' reflected the Rector Major's Strenna 2018 ''LORD GIVE ME THIS WATER. LET US CULTIVATE THE ART OF LISTENING AND ACCOMPANIMENT.''

The six sessions spread over the three days provided enriching inputs on themes that further elucidated the main theme of the conference. The themes:
1.Accompanying the youth (Physically, Intellectually, Emotionally and Spiritually)
2.Education in the Digital age-New age pedagogy
3.Overcoming the challenges faced by schools
4.Creating the leaders of tomorrow-how we can contribute to create an open society
5.Creating celebrities at our schools
6.Principals as change agents and leaders; the Profile of a Don Bosco teacher

The resource persons touched on varied aspects that would help us accompany youngsters in their early impressionable years of growth and learning. Their clarion call to the august gathering was to make our students better human beings amidst the clutter and noise of technology, social media and the internet. Our goal ought to be children who turn physically strong, mentally tough, morally upright, spiritually mature, emotionally balanced and socially committed. We cannot ignore generation z that is our future nor stay oblivious to changing times.

The daily schedule at the Conference included spiritual nourishment at the Eucharist in the morning and scintillating cultural programs in the evening after the tight schedule of the day. Nestled in the comfortable seats of the vast T P Ganesan auditorium-Asia's biggest-we got to view the rich culture of the state of Tamil Nadu and India besides catching a glimpse of the prodigious talent prevalent across the Don Bosco schools of the Chennai Province.

NECDBS 2018 while reflecting on our works across India was a gentle reminder to all DB principals that we cannot afford to look away from the immediate challenges that encompass education in present changing times, nor let our resolve slip in being passionate educators. Father Maria Arokiam, the Salesian Regional Superior of South Asia remarked in the concluding session that we must allow our Salesian identity and educative system-with the three pillars of religion, reason and loving kindness-remain strong and constant while absorbing the many transformations in society, culture and beliefs along the way. We remain sturdy in our resolve to continue this journey!

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