For an elementary school teacher in an area with no educational curriculum or support, the Baha’i Writings sparked a project that ended up reaching over 5 million children.
In this episode of “Moments of Meaning,” Sean Hinton speaks to Bruktawit Tigabu — or Brutky as she is known. She was born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where she is an educator running a social enterprise that creates educational media for young people.
Brukty’s journey towards a more innovative form of education began in her early years as an elementary school teacher. “The classrooms are very crowded, with many students,” she recounts. “And there are not many resources such as teaching aids… There wasn’t a curriculum really, for early childhood education especially. At the time there was no support system. I had to spend so much time creating my own teaching aids by hand.”
She and her husband, Shane, began to look through different texts, both scientific and spiritual, in search of guidance on how to “deliver quality education for many children in a cost effective way.” That’s when they came across the following passage from the Baha’i Writings:
“Regard man as a mine rich in gems of inestimable value. Education can, alone, cause it to reveal its treasures, and enable mankind to benefit therefrom.”
“To see young people from that perspective change gives you so much hope,” Brukty explains, reflecting on the passage and the effect it had on her and her husband’s perspective on education. “The purpose of education is not necessarily to benefit self, but to benefit mankind. So having that greater purpose also is quite inspiring.”
But their conversation didn’t stop there. Inspired by the passage, and moved to do something to respond to the educational challenges she saw across Ethiopia, Brukty developed a new plan.
“I had to find another way to reach children. And at that time, we only had one television channel. And so when it is on everybody watches; so it’s not only children, but even parents.” Along with her husband, they estimated that a television show could reach up to 5 million children.
In this episode, Brukty explains how she went from school teacher to producer over the course of a single year — with a show filmed out of her living room. “I had to teach myself how to edit, how to film, how to animate, how to [make] my lesson plan into interesting, engaging, and musical lessons on TV.” And she tells us about how the program grew into something for all ages, responding to the educational needs of everyone in the family.
She also explains how her understanding of the importance of education expanded, and how she carried her learnings into her work training teachers.
“Teaching and educating is a labour of love,” Brukty says. “You can’t really do it as a task; you really have to believe and love children. So then you can be patient and nurture, and keep digging into it until you hit that gem.”
“Moments of Meaning” is a podcast where Sean Hinton speaks to people from all walks of life whose lives have been profoundly affected by the writings of the Baha’i Faith. They share the quotes that inspired them and delve into the story of that moment of meaning and the powerful changes it caused.
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