The Education of the Heart is the Heart of Education: Path to compassionate social transformation

    A JCU RED Public Lecture

    Start 28 September 2023, 4:30pm
    End 28 September 2023, 5:30pm

    Day 2 – Thursday 28 September: Education and Civil Society
    4:30-5:30 | Keynote Address
    Presenter: Ng Shui Meng, Independent Scholar
    Chair/moderator: Dr Kearrin Sims

    Traditional Education in most countries, but especially in Asia, is content-heavy with emphasis on knowledge-based learning to equip learners with skills to pass examinations and achieve academic success for a rewarding career. It tends to neglect other aspects of learning to prepare individuals with adequate analytical, social, emotional, and other life-skills to meet real-life challenges in the adult world.
    This paper draws upon a development and education model proposed by Sombath Somphone, a community development and education practitioner from Laos, which proposes an innovative approach to holistic education and development known as “3-H learning”. The 3-H Learning refers to a process of learning and practice that places attention to using the “Head”, “Hands” and “Heart” simultaneously. It also proposes that of the “3-Hs”, education of the Heart is the most important. The paper examines how the 3-H education and development approach, and especially “Heart-based” or value-based education and development approaches can lay the foundation towards a form of social transformation that places the well-being of all, especially the marginalized and disadvantaged, as a development priority. It also provides a practical pathway towards closing the political, social, and economic divides that plague society, and addressing the many environmental and climate crisis that we face today.
    Unfortunately, the experimentation of this education and development model was short-circuited by the enforced disappearance of Sombath Somphone 10 years ago. The paper asserts that it is the socially and politically transformative power of this education and development model that could have caused Sombath to be disappeared.

    Researcher Biography:
    Shui-Meng Ng holds a MA in Sociology from the University of Michigan in 1973, and a PhD in Sociology from the University of Hawaii in 1979. Over the span of more than 40 years, Shui-Meng Ng accumulated a broad range of experience working in different countries and in different fields. After completing her studies, Shui-Meng Ng first worked in the Institute of Southeast Asia Studies based in Singapore as Senior Research Fellow focusing on research in population studies, gender and development, and politics and social change in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. In 1986, Shui-Meng Ng, left Singapore and moved to join her husband, Sombath Somphone, a Laotian agronomist and development specialist, to whom she married in 1983. From 1989- 2008, she worked with UNICEF, first as an Education Programme Officer in Laos, then developing women-focused poverty alleviation programs using micro-credit in China, then as Deputy Representative for UNICEF-Laos, and later as UNICEF Representative for Timor-Leste. After retiring from UNICEF, Shui-Meng Ng continued to be active in the development field, working as a specialist consultant in Myanmar and Laos. In 2012, her husband, Sombath Somphone, a respected and well-known development leader, was disappeared in Vientiane. Since her husband’s disappearance, Shui-Meng Ng mounted a relentless campaign, inside and outside Laos, to get Sombath Somphone released and returned safely to her and her family.

    * Public event with livestream

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