WE all have a role to play in the advancement of civilisation and a share in the development of our communities.
Currently there is a debate on what constitutes true participation in the development of one’s community.
Looking at the current practices, we see that development is often perceived as presenting a series of packages from “developed” to the “developing” countries or to rural and less developed parts of a country.
Discussions about participation are accordingly centred on how the beneficiaries would receive the prepared packages, rather than including them in consultation process for planning of their own development projects.
Besides, the development projects and related education have not been catering for particular needs of a community.
Rural education, for example, is usually based on a curriculum taken from industrialised nations, which holds little meaning for the rural population in a developing nation.
As a result graduates, finding it difficult to relate their education to their surroundings, abandon their farms and villages and move to urban areas.
“Development strategy must increasingly provide,” in the Bahá’í view, “for the meaningful participation of individuals in the conceptualisation, design, implementation and evaluation of programmes and policies that effect them.
“It should enhance the capability of people to participate in the generation and application of knowledge, should seek to strengthen their ability to manage change, and should offer opportunities to increase their capacities and sense of worth.”
Development efforts should be all-inclusive.
There should be commitment to cater for needs of people of different backgrounds in the same manner.
It should also consider women and men as equals and cater equally for the needs of both.
Development efforts must be guided by a vision of the type of community we wish to create and live in.
They should be animated by a set of universal values such as justice, trustworthiness and cooperation.
Development efforts are unlikely to bring prosperity to all unless they take into account our spiritual dimension and seek to foster a culture in which the moral, ethical, emotional and intellectual development are all taken into account.
Knowledge is a great gift of God and science is important for our welfare and well-being.
However, only by the spiritual transformation of human beings can life be filled with moral purpose, and it is only through this transformation that our high ideals such as justice towards all, cooperation and unity can become practical objectives.
Therefore, success in social and economic development does not arise only through scientific knowledge and material progress, but it is achieved through combining science and religion – by using our science and technology together with values that weld society together.
“There is need,” in the Bahá’í view, “to understand how the population of a region could benefit from science and religion as two complementary systems of knowledge and practice in order to generate and apply knowledge to address their specific problems and concerns.”
In addition, development projects must be planned and structured in a way that all will have the opportunity to serve the community and to participate fully in its advancement.
Service is the means through which noble aspirations and spiritual inclinations are given concrete expression.
Selfless service for betterment of the world is instrumental in both personal growth and social progress.
“Only development programmes that are perceived as just and equitable,” in the Bahá’í view, “can hope to engage the commitment of the people upon whom successful implementation ultimately depends.
“When people trust that all are protected by standards and assured of benefits, such virtues as honesty, the willingness to work and sacrifice, moderation, and a spirit of cooperation can flourish and combine to make possible the attainment of enormously demanding collective goals.”
Sustainable development will greatly depend on the existence of consensus for change.
Such consensus can best be achieved through a process of consultation.
Through consultation greater understanding can be achieved about the measures necessary for the advancement of society.
Through consultation it becomes possible to set development goals that are consistent with the needs of the population being served.
Besides, consultation helps in securing the investment of the people on whose commitment and efforts success depends.
“The maturity of the gift of understanding,” Bahá’u'lláh states, “is made manifest through consultation.”
As the primary means for meaningful participation in development, consultation facilitates transparency and accountability.
Consultation is so important to the success of any collective endeavour that it must become an organising principle of development.
- For feedback please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; or call 082 773 8301.