The Badi Foundation was established in 1990 in Macau S.A.R. through an initial endowment in honor of Badi’u’llah Farid and Shidrokh Amirkia Bagha, who were outstanding examples of dedication, service and self-sacrifice for the well-being of humankind. From its inception, the foundation has concentrated on creating educational materials and programs to develop the capabilities of people and organizations to contribute to balanced development in China. Over the nearly two decades of its operations in the greater China region, the foundation has collaborated with government agencies at a number of levels to pursue this objective in both formal and non-formal educational settings, focusing primarily in rural and semi-rural areas.
Early Years in Macau
In the area of formal education, initial endeavors began with the development of the School of the Nations in Macau. Although established before the foundation itself, the school was transferred to the foundation upon its establishment and the foundation was given responsibility for all aspects of the school’s administration and development. A result of the efforts of citizens of Macau as well as the Macau government, the School of the Nations began modestly. Over the years it expanded in size and devised a unique approach to formal education, focusing on promoting the intellectual, moral and physical development of its students in an integrated manner. In 2008, with the generous support of the Macau government, parents, alumni and other supporters, the school completed construction of a state of the art new campus, enabling its further expansion and strengthening its ability to serve the community of Macau.
Initial Efforts in Mainland China
Concurrently with the early development of the School of the Nations, the foundation sought to contribute to formal and non-formal education in mainland China. Seeking to draw on the experiences that the foundation was gaining at the school, initial projects in China focused on formal education and teacher training. The foundation’s early projects in China included an exploration of issues related to character development in conjunction with the Central Institute for Educational Research and providing teachers and teacher training to schools and education departments throughout China. In the arena of non-formal education, an early project was carried out in Hainan Island, where the foundation worked with farmers and youth in collaboration with the Science and Technology Commission.
Evolution of Current Programs
Based on the lessons learned through these initial efforts, the opportunities that were available and recognition of the unique capacities inherent in China’s rural populations, the Badi Foundation in 1994 initiated its Social Enterprise Program. This non-formal educational program sought to cultivate in its participants, most of whom lived in China’s rural regions, the knowledge, skills, habits and attitudes necessary to contribute to the advancement of their communities. As this program developed, it was implemented in collaboration with the State Council Office of Poverty Alleviation, China Women’s Federation and other government agencies. Initially, participants in the Social Enterprise Program explored a multitude of paths of service to their communities based on the foundational training the program provided. Reflection on experience led to the realization that the projects that were sustained over time and had the greatest impact were those in which participants had some level of specific expertise in the field that was the focus of their efforts to serve their communities. As a result the Social Enterprise Program came to focus on developing in participants project implementation-related expertise in several fields, offering training in the promotion of sustainable agricultural practices, cooperative parenting and cooperative discipline. Ultimately, based on the experience gained and the foundation’s assessment of the most pressing needs in China, it was decided to focus the Social Enterprise Program on education in scientific principles and concepts related to sustainable development for women living in rural and semi-rural areas. This program came to be known as the Environmental Action Program, which the foundation and collaborating community-based organizations have been implementing since 2000.
A similar process of reflection on experience, as well as recognition of the fundamental importance of developing the capacity of society’s younger members to contribute to the advancement of communities, prompted the foundation to begin implementing the Moral Empowerment through Language Program in 2005. This program seeks to guide youth between the ages of 12 and 15 to acquire moral concepts, habits and attitudes that will enable them to develop their capacities to be of greater service to their communities. The junior youth curriculum, taught in English so as to enhance the English language capabilities of students, seeks to assist junior youth to enhance their powers of expression, understanding of the challenges of rural communities, and ability to consult and collaborate with others in their communities to design and implement projects contributing to social and economic development. The program is implemented in collaboration with schools and local government agencies throughout China and Macau, including at the School of the Nations
A further advance in the Badi Foundation’s approach to development in China occurred in 2005 with the decision to initiate the Institutional Capacity Building Program, which facilitates the establishment of community-based organizations in China’s rural regions and provides training and support to build the capacity of these organizations as they implement the Environmental Action and Moral Empowerment through Language Programs. This approach stemmed from the Foundation’s recognition of the desire of a growing number of individuals in China to start local organizations to contribute to the advancement of their communities, and of the indispensability of locally-based organizations to the process of balanced development. The Institutional Capacity Building Program facilitates the establishment of community-based organizations and enhances their capacity to effectively implement either the Moral Empowerment through Language or Environmental Action Program, collaborate with government, and manage financial and human resources in order to serve the needs of their communities. In this manner the program seeks to build capacity in local populations, enhance the ability of the foundation and its collaborators to be responsive to the varying conditions and needs of local communities and to promote the sustainability of efforts beyond that which might be possible for a single individual or organization.
As of 2014, the Foundation is working with 31 community-based organizations throughout China through the Institutional Capacity Building Program, 17 of which are implementing the Moral Empowerment through Language Program and 14 of which are implementing the Environmental Action Program.