Anthony Dharan: “Education is the most powerful tool“

I am Anthony and a 23-year-old student at the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland, currently completing my degree in business administration. As part of my bachelor thesis, I am volunteering at the SEKEM Environmental Science Center (SESC) as part of the SEKEM School for six months.

SESC offers interactive science classes on environmental topics at the SEKEM School since 2010 and has served around 3000 students so far. At SESC, students aged between five and 16 years from the SEKEM community, as well as from other national and international schools learn to challenge themselves and their knowledge. Through that, they will get a deeper sense of societal and environmental responsibility and ability to act accordingly.

“Since coming here, I became aware of the magnitude of the challenges”

My task is to describe and understand the purpose, the context, the processes, the challenges of SESC in terms of human development. This analysis will be carried out on many levels – individual, organizational, societal – in order to have a comprehensive understanding of the role of SESC. Ultimately, my goal is to develop a model that will help individuals to embody SESC’s vision and philosophy.

Unfortunately, the global education situation here is not as good as it might seem. Since coming to Egypt, I became aware of the magnitude of the challenges, such as the lack of financing in education or formation of teachers, SESC will have to face in order to address the education needs in Egypt. I come from a family that is deeply involved in the field of education. My mother established a Montessori School in Geneva and over the years, I could clearly witness how education played a major role in children’s lives. I believe that SESC has a very unique potential to bring about minor but significant changes in the kids’ life. But there is still a long long long way to go. From the feeling that there are still so many things that have to be done, I get my strength and motivation.

“I believe that some sort of human development has been neglected”

An experience that really touched me personally was to allow children from a school in Cairo to discover and enjoy the beauties of nature at the SEKEM Farm. Observing how nature and animals were aliens to the young pupils at first, made me realize how fortunate I was – to have grown up in an environment surrounded by nature.

Concerning myself I have always been animated by a desire of helping the others and fight injustice – being raised with values such as gender equality, freedom of choice as well as respect of other humans and of our environment. Generally, we often talk about education as being the best way to fight these types of injustice. However, during my studies, I realized that our Western education system was not addressing these issues directly. It rather focused on teaching us knowledge in subjects such as math, chemistry and French, in a way directed towards understanding and developing our world in terms of economic growth. I believe that, in this process, some sort of human development has been neglected.

To volunteer for SEKEM is a great opportunity to explore the topic of human development. SEKEM functions as an extensive ecosystem with a focus on people, environment and economy. Moreover, SESC was designed to offer a holistic learning experience focused on Egypt’s environmental and societal challenges.

Anthony Dharan

Learning out of the box
Starting the educational revolution in Egypt - SEKEM Environmental Science Center