One of the winners of the 2022 Value Education Olympiad onstage with event leaders.
The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), in partnership with the Ministry of Environmental, Forest and Climate Change (MOEFCC), Mission LiFE Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MOTA), United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) Faith for Earth, and the Directorate of Delhi is organizing the 2023 International Value Education Olympiad. The Olympiad inspires and empowers students worldwide to embrace and embody essential values from Gita while making a positive environmental impact.
The impact has been significant in previous years. In just the last two years, more than 480,000 students from more than 20 countries have participated in the program. More than 400,000 saplings have been planted as a part of this event. The event is open to students in 5th-12th grades from all schools in two languages (English and Hindi). By delving into thought-provoking questions and practical scenarios, participants explore and apply values such as compassion, honesty, respect, and gratitude.
“We wanted our focus to be on practical change regarding the environment. Thus we kept this event as a two-step process. First, students download our Future Ethics ebook and study it for the online exam. For the second step, students can choose from three project categories: Ideate (idea formulation), Ideate and Create (model development), or Ideate, Create, and Implement (real-world implementation) for any solution to the environmental crisis. Accompanied by a detailed report and relevant photographs, the students are assessed in both categories to declare winners,” shared Karuna Chandra Das, who has been leading the initiative for the last five years. Participants are encouraged to develop and implement lifestyle changes that positively influence their surroundings.
This year’s Olympiad will be online, offering convenience and accessibility to students from all corners of the world. Registration is open from July 17 to September 30, with the examination scheduled for 12th-15th October 2023. Notably, the felicitation ceremony planned for November 5, 2023, will be graced by the Honorable Minister of Environment from the Government of India and various other dignitaries, including academicians and industry experts, to felicitate winners and encourage participants. The in-person event in Delhi will be streamed online for everyone.
“In previous years, there were only two categories. Junior category (Classes 5th-8th) and Senior category (Classed 9th-12th). This year we are launching four categories (Classes 5-6, 7-8, 9-10, 11-12). We designed four new books for each category in both languages.” shared Visnu Swarupa Das, “Three winners from each category will win a laptop, Kindle reader, and a bicycle. We also have almost 100 consolation prizes for students apart from the main winners. Each student who appears for the exam gets a certificate, and the entire program is free for the students.”
The Olympiad, organized by ISKCON of Punjabi Bagh, Delhi, is presented by Govardhan Eco Village and ISKCON in collaboration with the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) under the Faith For Earth Councillor initiative. This initiative invited faith-based organizations to be part of the solution to perhaps the biggest concern of our time. And ISKCON has jumped at the opportunity to present the Gita as a viable solution to climate change, working with the support of government and environmental institutions, NGOs, corporates, and schools.
A research paper on the topic of “How ethics taught by Bhagavad Gita can help school students fight climate change?” with this event as a case study was presented at the Oxford Symposium on Religious Studies, London, on July 18, 2023, by Dr. Suruchi Mittar, the leading member of the organizing team.
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