Bal Vikas Classes
Merton Sai Centre Bal Vikas wing is conducted by trained teachers for about 200 children of different nationalities and religions. The children are placed in classes/groups according to their date of births.
- Nursery classes consist of Nursery 1 for children of 4-5 years old, and Nursery 2 which has children of 5-6 years old.
- Group 1 takes children from the age of 6-9 years old and is divided into 3 classes.
- Group 2 has children between the age of 9+ -12 years old again divided into three groups
- Group 3 consists of children between the ages of 12+ -15 years old in three groups.
- Group 4 takes up children who have graduated at the age of 15 + to 16 years old.
Classes are conducted every Sunday of the school academic year and include two sessions:
- Session 1 from 12.00pm to 1.15pm for Nursery, Group 1 – Year 1, Year 2 and Year 3
- Session 2 from 1.00pm to 2.30pm for Group 2 – Year 1, Year 2, Year 3 and Group 3 – Year 1, Year 2, Year 3
The assembly takes place at 1.00pm joined by the parents and relevant announcements are made about the activities of the Bal Vikas wing and the Centre. Every 1st Sunday of the month, the children of the Bal Vikas conduct the bhajan, ending the bhajan with a Special Assembly related to a particular festival (from one of the major religions of the world) that occurs during that particular month.
Wearing of white uniform is compulsory in the centre. Each child is issued with a cream colour scarf with different colour ribbon borders to separate the child in his/her house -yellow and blue for the boys. Red, green and maroon for the girls, these represent the Five Human Values (Truth, Peace, Right Conduct, Love and Non-Violence).
The classes are held in the Sai Mandir, as well as in the rooms in the first floor of the building. All the children sit in a circle on the floor with their Gurus (teachers) during lessons (to create an environment conducive to spiritual learning). The students of Group 2 Year 3 (11 year olds) and Group 3 Year 2 (14 year olds) sit for the National examinations in July. In their last year (15 years) they do two projects of practical nature which sums up their knowledge of the Bal Vikas programme. Group 4 classes are held monthly covering general topics suitable for the age group and as interactive sessions to encourage the young people to gain self confidence.
Festivals and Celebrations
The Bal Vikas children present a festival (of different faiths) at the end of the children’s bhajan held on every first Sunday of the month. These vary from Christmas Nativity play to Diwali, the Chinese New Year, Wesak or any other special festival falling in that particular month. Each class takes turns to produce this presentation. Easwaramma day is celebrated in a grand way with all the children taking part in programmes organized by the teachers. Many parents help in the production of plays, costumes etc. The themes are mostly selected from Sai Teachings.
Many of our Bal Vikas children have taken part in various ‘Sai Mahima’ dance dramas performed in the divine presence of our Lord Sathya Sai Baba in India. Currently there are nearly thirty Bal Vikas teachers who have been trained in Puttaparthi and/or in the UK., four youths (who are ex-Bal Vikas children) and two adult helpers. Each class is taken by two teachers and other assistants wherever necessary. We conduct regularly parents /teacher’s meeting as well as home visits.
Other Activities of the Bal Vikas children
All the pupils of the centre are encouraged to take part in the Regional Sports’ Day during the summer holidays. This event is very popular amongst children and parents alike – it is a great family “fun day” for all. The children join our youth to entertain the elderly of the borough on a regular basis as part of the age-link programme. This activity is very popular with both the children (who can display their talents in the shape of music, dance, jokes, or simply offering a sympathetic listening ear) and the elderly people (who “adopt” a little friend when they come to the Centre). This is very valuable to the children as it brings them out of their shell, builds their self-confidence and helps them later in life.
“Education confers humility, endows one with the authority to command, that will entitle one to affluence. With the help of charity and compassion this affluence can be made fruitful, and by this means, happiness in this world and peace in the next can be won” – Sri Sathya Sai Baba