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Workshop on Participation as a Perspective tool in Formation
By Vincent Castilino
Hyderabad, Jul. 9. A three day workshop was organised by the Don Bosco National Forum for the Young at Risk (DBNFYaR), to jointly study with a group of Salesian Formation guides the various aspects of furthering the benefits of Participatory Action Research (PAR) in the area of formation.  As a research module, PAR is already being carried out in 10 YaR centres of South India with a view to making them more child-directed. Participating in this enterprise were 40 Salesians and lay persons from South India, with representatives also from the North-East.  
The seminar consisted basically a general round of presentations by the directors of the 10 YaR centres on the status of PAR already being carried out for the past year and half.  While these presentations provided a general view of issues being dealt with using participative method as a tool, the following input sessions offered the rationale and the rich potential it offered for the formation settings.

These sessions were offered by Prof. Dr Dev Manti, Father John Tharakan, Father Alex Kalathikattil, and Father Jose Maliekal. Father George Kollashany contributed an inspirational report on the possibilities for PAR based on as assessment on his assessment of the work of the researchers at these 10 centres.  

The seminar also offered the participants opportunities to clarify their views and concerns of not just the research part (and related technical issues) but also the very perspective of using participative means for decision-making.  The participative method works on a premise that issues are best solved when there is an open and genuine dialogue and negotiation between all individuals related to the issue.  In contrast to the normal mode wherein the adults (or formators) offer answers to the children (or formees), the participative mode empowers the child/formee to find his or her own solution.  It provides space, time and a level ground for everyone, especially the child/formee, to participate in decision-making in matters related to its own well-being. This rests on the conviction that everyone, even a child, is capable of decision-making and that needs to be respected. The end result of PAR is a change in the attitudes of those in leadership roles.

Earlier Father Koshy Thomas, the National delegate for DBNFYaR presented the inaugural keynote address and the Provincial of the Salesian Province of Hyderabad, Father Thathireddy Vijaya Bhaskar welcomed the group.  The discussions and sessions were well moderated by Father Ajoy Fernandes.  

The seminar offered an open forum for expressing various concerns and seek clarification on the method and its implementation.  The PAR Team of Father John Tharakan, Ms Sumathi and Mr Sreenadh facilitated the logistics and planning of the seminar.  
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