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Volume 3 - Issue 7
JULY 2005 






Heart to Heart is immensely pleased to report that the 'miracle Sai School of Zambia' has won a prestigious international award. It’s the Business Initiative Directions (BID) award at the 22nd International World Quality Commitment (WQC) Convention in Paris, held on May 30th, 2005. Mr. and Mrs. Kanu, the founders of the school, received the award in person. The award's symbol of quality is known in 166 countries and in the words of Jose Prieto, BID's Executive President, "Those awarded are symbols of commitment to leadership, technology and innovation which make them models for other organisations of their sectors."

What is so special about this school in an isolated corner of Africa?

In the words of Mr. Victor Kanu, it is the Human Values approach to education. And what is this human values approach? Mr. Kanu explains, “The human values approach is really about transformation whereas the subject content is about information. So we are going to blend information and transformation to bring about the desired attitudinal changes in the young, who would become the future utility managers and future leaders. This, in brief, is the programme.”

Elucidating further on how values can be blended with education, he says, “Human values are integrated into the programme by starting
first with the existing syllabus and then blending it values. Let us take photo synthesis or how plants transport water. Now the function of the roots is to hold the plant firm and to give it a solid base while it searches for water. The roots will go to great lengths in search of water. If the root comes across a boulder it does not give up; it goes round it - that is endurance, a sense of duty and persistence. While teaching children about the function of roots, these values must be brought out at the same time - persistence, endurance strong sense of duty, cooperation etc. We also bring in traditional values. According to our ancients, spirits were supposed to live in water. Africans believe in the existence of God and the deities. God pervades the entire Universe and that same God is also in water. This is ancient African culture. But that has been forgotten as a result of colonial rule. Baba says education without culture is like a kite without a rope. It is like a dark room that is infested with bats. So what we are trying to do is to harmonise and bring out the positive values in our cultures and traditions in Africa and harmonise those values with the present trends in our school system. This is very well received and that is why the UN HABITAT is so much interested in this. People really want to go back to their roots, which makes our easier.”

(UN-HABITAT is basically, United Nation’s Centre for Human Settlement. Impressed by Mr. Kanu’s paper “Water Education – A human Values approach, The UN-HABITAT appointed Mr. Kanu as consultant for integrating Human Values in water education in six African countries.)

In a recent interview to Radio Sai, Mr. Kanu shared with the listeners his early life as a teacher, then as the Sierre Leon High Commissioner in London, his fascinating spiritual journey to Baba and his work on water conservation with the UN. We shall keep all these interesting stories for a later issue and now concentrate only on his educational work and his ‘miracle school’. Here is a small extract from that inspiring interview. We join the interview as Mr. and Mrs. Kanu are instructed by Baba to start a school in Zambia.

How did you happen to choose Zambia?

Mr. Kanu: Well, actually it was Swami Himself. We had visited Zambia very briefly to conduct an EHV workshop. That was all. We knew no one there except three or four devotees. But when we came to Baba in 1987, He said to us, “Go to Zambia and spread My message of love through education. Build a school and help the people.” And, do you know why He chose Zambia for us? It was for a very good reason because Zambia happens to be, in my judgement, a very stable country. The people are very mature spiritually.

It must have been very difficult for you to start a school in a country you were not familiar with. And you must have been short of resources – physical, financial, and manpower resources. Tell us something about how you braved it all.

Mr. Kanu: I very well still remember what happened in the interview room when Baba told us to go and set up this school. My wife was brave, I was not. She turned towards Baba and said, “Baba, what about funding?” Swami said, “Sell your house. If funds are not enough, borrow from banks.” Well, we were delighted when He told us to sell our house. Being brought up as Christians, we remembered the story in the Bible when a rich man went to Jesus and said, “Oh Lord, what can I do to come near God?” Jesus said, “Sell all that you have and give to the poor and follow me.” The man ran away when he heard these words. We were overjoyed.

This was the Father speaking to you.

Mr. Kanu: Yes, this was the Father. We were so thrilled that Sathya Sai Baba whom we believe to be God Incarnate and the Father who sent Jesus had directed us to go to Zambia. It was not that He could not have given us funds, but that was a test. We knew that straightaway and we did exactly as He wanted us to do. We also remembered the stories of Hanuman, and other great disciples how they went to distant lands because the Lord was with them. So, that was enough for us. We knew Baba would be with us throughout. When Baba said, “Go to Zambia,” He did not say there would be no difficulties. Difficulties are part of life.

It is my experience that when you do God’s work, you face more difficulties.

Mr. Kanu: Yes, more difficulties, more tests. We enjoyed every bit of them, we knew that Lord Baba was testing us.

Your school has been invariably described as a miracle school. Now tell us something about why it is called a miracle school.

Mr. Kanu: The school is located in a socially and economically disadvantaged area. Many boys had failed the national primary Grade 7 examination (a precondition for entrance into secondary schools). They failed because they were truants, poor attenders and difficult to teach. They were rejects. These were the same boys the Sathya Sai Secondary School in Ndola admitted. After two years and upon taking the National Grade 9 examination, not only were they among those who obtained the highest marks in the country, they all passed (100%). This success rate has been repeated at Grade 12 later for the past 10 years. They are at various institutions of higher learning in the country. This is the “Miracle” – the “Sai Miracle”.

That was in which year? I suppose, it was all part of the Divine plan.

Mr. Kanu: That was in 1994. This was marvellous; the nation was stunned. How come a school which was located in a village among poor children do so well! This had never happened in the educational history of Zambia. It was all part of the Divine plan. It could not have happened without Swami’s intervention.

I presume there is no fee. Do you get any subsidy from the government?

Mr. Kanu: No fee at all. We only ask a little for commitment purposes, but no tuition fee. There is no subsidy from the government. Swami is the provider of everything. So, the results were astonishing. The character of the children improved and they became good boys in a short period of time.

Did these students make any impact at home on their families?

Mr. Kanu: Yes. There was a lot of impact on their families. I can give you two instances. A boy persistently told his father to take him to Sathya Sai School very early in the morning, because he did not want to be late. After dropping him at school, the father would report for work and was the first to do so. Within six months, the father got promotion because of his punctuality and regularity at work. Also, a Managing Director who was the last to go to work began dropping his child very early in the morning at Sathya Sai School (at the insistence of the child), and he also became the first person to open his office; his late coming was reduced and so was that of his employees. There are many testimonies of this nature from parents as well as from children. The boys who never used to study, began to tell others at home to study and not to make noise.

I think Ndola is not a big town. How much is the population?

Mr. Kanu: It is relatively big enough. Population is about 250,000 people. We had a choice between building the school in the heart of the city or in the poorer area. So, I sent Genoveva (Mrs. Kanu) to Baba. I said, “Please ask Him where we should put the school.” He said, “Go to the poor area, train them.”

And apart from classroom instructions, you also have social services and things like that?

Mr. Kanu: Yes. We are very much involved in community work – helping the old and orphans.

Is it not amazing to learn what Baba can accomplish through His instruments. Let us pray that we also can be such trusty and capable workers to the Glory of God and a better world.

Please refer to Heart2Heart 'Archives', Dec 01 2003, Vol 1 Issue 7, for Mr. Kanu's complete Radio Sai interview on water education, "Valuing Water".




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