Meaningful Education in Preparation for a Meaningful Life

The founders of Begawan Foundation, Bradley and Debbie Gardner, firmly believe that children, adolescents and young adults in Indonesia and other countries around the world need meaningful education to prepare them to take up creative and responsible roles in their future lives, and to equip them to meet the complex demands they will have to face in the coming years.

Their concept of meaningful education places a strong emphasis on entrepreneurial skills. Rather than turning out numbers of potential employees for the conventional labour market, they believe education should nurture visionaries who recognise and understand problems, develop entrepreneurial ideas for dealing with them, and implement those ideas in a way that contributes to the community. 

The formative years

Education for life has long been of interest to Bradley Gardner, one of the founders of Begawan Foundation. During the construction of Begawan Giri Estate, in Bali, Bradley worked together closely with Prof. Dr. Jurgen Zimmer ( of the Internationale Academie, Freie Universitaet Berlin, who, in the 1970s, worked with Paolo Friere and Ivan Illych, worldwide alternative educationalists.

Jurgen Zimmer developed the Situational Approach in cooperation with the Dept of Early Childhood Education at the German Youth Institute Munich at the beginning of the 1970s.

Several German federal states started model programs using the Situational Approach in the seventies, and the number of states increased in the eighties and nineties. Approximately 20,000 children, a few thousand nursery school teachers and around 200 researchers and supervisors participated in the model project, with all the projects led by Jurgen himself.

The Concept for Educational and Entrepreneurial Excellence was developed by Prof. Dr. Jurgen Zimmer and Prof. Dr. Gunter Faltin, as a result of their professional expertise at the Universitat Freie Berlin and their practical experiences in many developing countries. The adaptation of the Situational Approach to the specifics and opportunities of Bali, was made together with Bradley Gardner.

The two professors received approval from the United Nations in New York, and UNESCO in Paris. A number of meetings were held in Bali, with visitors from England, Berlin, Stuttgart.

In April of 1997, the then Minister of Education in Indonesia, Prof. Dr. Ing. Wardiman Djojonegoro, at a meeting strongly supported and encouraged the development of the educational ideas put forward by Prof. Dr. Jurgen Zimmer and Bradley Gardner, in order that a project pertaining to education be realised within Indonesia. The project also received support from a variety of educationalists within the education departments in Bali and Jakarta, as well as from the then Governor of Bali, Ida Bagus Oka.

Ongoing Educational Activities

Following on from these years of meetings between Prof. Dr. Jurgen Zimmer and Bradley Gardner, Begawan Foundation (BF) was established in 1999 with the vision to create an environment to be beneficial to the needs of local communities, especially their children through meaningful education, healthcare and awareness of environmental protection. Based on that vision and mission, the foundation team works with the Bali Starling Breeding and Release Centre in Banjar Begawan to engender conservation and the Learning Centre in Banjar Pengaji, Melinggih Kelod to run education programs.

Since the early days of the foundation, and the setting up of a small kindergarten at Begawan Giri Estate in 2000, the founders have worked with foundation staff to develop education programs in the community to encompass local schools from kindergarten to senior high school. BF has now reached over 2,000 students, and taught over 50 classes, in 25 schools in 6 villages – Melinggih Kelod, Melinggih, Sayan, Mambal, Sibang and Sibanggede.

BF’s Education team is currently developing and implementing a new curriculum to further assist children between 7 to 18 years old. Based on its mission, the BF Learning Center operates student-centric and socially responsible learning via an integrated and environmentally-focused curriculum. The newly developed curriculum, based on 9 themes, will provide experiential learning that develop student life-skills, environmental responsiveness, an entrepreneurial mindset, and a love of learning – in order to benefit this young generation and their communities. With the motto ‘Learning by Doing’, the foundation encourages students to express their own ideas and opinions and take an active part in tackling local environmental issues.

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