Young people around the world are increasingly affected by violence, social problems, and a lack of respect for each other and the world around them.  Parents, educators and concerned citizens in many countries are asking for help to turn around this alarming trend.  Many of them believe that part of the solution is an emphasis on teaching values. 

We must not just educate our children and youth “to know” and “to do”, we must also educate them “to be” and “to live together”. [1]  Quality education recognizes the whole person and promotes education that involves the affective domain as well as the cognitive.  Values such as peace, love, respect, tolerance, cooperation and freedom, are cherished and aspired for the world over.  Such values are the sustaining force of human society and progress.  What children and youth learn is later woven into the fabric of society and so education must have positive values at its heart and the resulting expression of them as its aim if we are to seek to create a better world for all. 

In a world where negative role models, the glorification of violence, and materialism abound, older children and youth rarely acquire positive social skills or values simply by being told to do so.  While “good” students may adopt values-based behaviors when exposed to “awareness-level” activities, they gain greater benefit when guided through an exploration of values and their implications for the self, others and the larger society.  On the other hand, more “resistant” students or marginalized youth turn away from a moralizing approach to character education. 

Educators, and activities, that actively engage and allow students the opportunity to explore and experience their own qualities are therefore of crucial importance.  Students benefit by developing skills to cognitively explore and understand values.  For students to be motivated to learn and utilize positive and cooperative social skills, the creation of a values-based atmosphere in which they are encouraged, listened to and valued is also essential.  It is in this context, and in response to the call for values to be at the heart of learning, that Living Values: An Educational Program (LVEP) has been developed.

What is LVEP?

Living Values: An Educational Program is a comprehensive values education program.  This innovative global character education program offers a wide variety of experiential values activities and practical methodologies to teachers, facilitators, parents and caregivers that enable children and young adults to explore and develop  twelve universal values:  Peace, Respect, Cooperation, Freedom, Happiness, Honesty, Humility, Love, Responsibility, Simplicity, Tolerance, and Unity. 

Designed to address the whole child/person, Living Values Activities build intrapersonal and interpersonal social and emotional skills and values-based perspectives and behaviors.  Students are engaged in reflection, visualization, and artistic expression to draw out their ideas; cognitive and emotional skills grow as they are engaged in analyzing events and creating solutions.  The approach is child-centered, flexible and interactive; adults act as facilitators.  During LVEP training, educators are asked to create a values-based atmosphere in which all students can feel respected, valued, understood, loved and safe. Part of LVEP educator excellence is viewed as modeling the values, respecting student opinions, and empowering children and young adults to enjoy learning and implementing values projects.

LVEP also has special materials for use with parents and caregivers, street children and children affected by war and earthquakes.

About the Organization

Living Values: An Educational Program is a partnership among educators around the world. This program is supported by UNESCO, sponsored by the Spanish Committee of UNICEF and the Brahma Kumaris, in consultation with the Education Cluster of UNICEF, New York .  LVEP is part of the global movement for a culture of peace in the framework of the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-violence for the Children of the World.

Living Values:  An Educational Program, Incorporated is registered as a non-profit organization in the USA .  The LVEP International Coordinating Office is in New York .  In many countries where LVEP is being implemented, national Living Values associations have been formed, usually comprised of educators, education officials, and representatives of organizations involved with student or parent education. 

International Usage

LVEP is currently being implemented in 67 countries at over 4,000 sites.  While most sites are schools, other sites are day-care centers, youth clubs, parent associations, centers for street children, health centers and refugee camps.  The number of students doing Living Values Activities at each site varies considerably; some involve 10 students while others involve 3,000.

Purpose and Aims

LVEP’s purpose is to provide guiding principles and tools for the development of the whole person, recognizing that the individual is comprised of physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual dimensions.

The aims are:

¨      To help individuals think about and reflect on different values and the practical implications of expressing them in relation to themselves, others, the community, and the world at large;  

¨      To deepen understanding, motivation, and responsibility with regard to making positive personal and social choices;

¨      To inspire individuals to choose their own personal, social, moral, and spiritual values and be aware of practical methods for developing and deepening them; and

¨      To encourage educators and caregivers to look at education as providing students with a philosophy of living, thereby facilitating their overall growth, development, and choices so they may integrate themselves into the community with respect, confidence, and purpose.

Materials – The Living Values Series

The initial materials developed for LVEP began to be piloted in March of 1997.  Materials were gradually expanded as more materials were requested and educators around the globe contributed ideas and activities.  LVEP’s Living Values Series of five books was published by Health Communications, Incorporated in April of 2001. The series was awarded the 2002 Teachers’ Choice Award, an award sponsored by Learning magazine, a national publication for teachers and educators in the USA .  The Living Values Series consists of the following books.

¨      Living Values Activities for Children Ages 3-7

¨      Living Values Activities for Children Ages 8-14

¨      Living Values Activities for Young Adults

¨      LVEP Educator Training Guide

¨      Living Values Parent Groups: A Facilitator Guide

LVEP Educator Workshops are available around the world and are recommended in order to implement LVEP most effectively.  Translation of the Living Values Series is ongoing in 23 languages, with some values units or books available in Arabic, Bahasa Malay, Chinese, Farsi, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Karen, Khmer, Kiswahili, Papiamento, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Telugu, Thai, Turkish and Vietnamese.

Materials – For Children At Risk

For emergency situations, LVEP offers training to refugee teachers to implement Living Values Activities for Refugees and Children Affected by War.  There are also special activities for children affected by earthquakes and street children.  These materials are restricted, only made available to educators who undergo training for these particular modules. The regular Living Values Activities have been used with street children in several countries, but special materials are currently being developed.  LVEP materials for children at risk consists of the following.

¨      Living Values Activities for Refugees and Children Affected by War Ages 3-7

¨      Living Values Activities for Refugees and Children Affected by War Ages 8-14

¨      Living Values Activities for Children Affected by Earthquakes Ages 3-7

¨      Living Values Activities for Children Affected by Earthquakes Ages 8-14

¨      Living Values Activities for Street Children Ages 3-7

·In Living Values Activities for Children Ages 3-7, Ages 8-14, and Living Values Activities for Young Adults, reflective and imagining activities encourage students to access their own creativity and inner gifts.  Communication activities teach students to implement peaceful social skills.  Artistic activities, songs, and dance inspire students to express themselves while experiencing the value of focus.  Game-like activities are thought-provoking and fun; the discussion time that follows those activities helps students explore effects of different attitudes and behaviors.  Other activities stimulate awareness of personal and social responsibility and, for older students, awareness of social justice.  The development of self-esteem and tolerance continues throughout the exercises. Educators are encouraged to utilize their own rich heritage while integrating values into everyday activities and the curriculum. 

·LVEP Educator Training Guide - This guide contains the content of sessions within regular LVEP Educator Workshops.  Sessions include values awareness, creating a values-based atmosphere, and skills for creating such an atmosphere. LVEP's theoretical model and sample training agendas are included. 

·Living Values Parent Groups: A Facilitator Guide - This book offers both process and content for facilitators interested in conducting Living Values Parent Groups with parents and caregivers to further understanding and skills important in encouraging and positively developing values in children.  The first section describes content for an introductory session, and a six-step process for the exploration of each value. In this process, parents and caregivers reflect on their own values and how they "live" and teach those values. The second section offers suggestions regarding values activities the parents can do in the group, and ideas for parents to explore at home. In the third section, common parenting concerns are addressed, as are particular skills to deal with those concerns. There is a small section on the needs of children from ages 0 to 2.

·Living Values Activities for Refugees and Children Affected by WarThis supplement contains activities that give children an opportunity to begin the healing process while learning about peace, respect and love.  Designed to be implemented by refugee teachers of the same culture as the children, there are forty-nine lessons for children three- to seven-years old and sixty lessons for students eight- to fourteen-years old.  The lessons provide tools to begin to deal with grief while developing positive adaptive social and emotional skills.  A section on camp-wide strategies offers suggestions for creating a culture of peace, conducting values education groups for parents/caregivers, cooperative games, and supporting conflict resolution monitors. Teachers continue with the regular living values activities after these lessons are completed.

·Living Values Activities for Children Affected by Earthquakes – This supplement is available for children three- to seven-years old and children eight- to fourteen.  Developed in response to a request from educators in El Salvador , the lessons provide a forum for children to discuss their feelings, learn that their reactions are normal responses to a difficult situation, and develop skills to help them cope. 

Living Values Activities for Street Children Ages 3-7These materials contain adapted living values activities on peace, respect, love and cooperation and a series of thirty stories about a street children family.  The stories serve as a medium to educate about and to discuss issues related to domestic violence, death, AIDS, drug sellers, drugs, sexual abuse and physical abuse.  The stories are combined with discussions, activities, and the development of positive adaptive social and emotional skills.   


Living Values:  An Educational Program grew out of an international project begun in 1995 by the Brahma Kumaris to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the United Nations.  Called “Sharing Our Values for a Better World”, this project focused on 12 universal values.  The theme -- adopted from a tenet in the Preamble of the United Nations’ Charter -- was “To reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person . . . .”  Living Values: A Guidebook was created as part of the Sharing Our Values for a Better World Project.  The guidebook -- which provided value statements on the 12 core values, offered an individual perspective for creating and sustaining positive change, and included facilitated group workshops and activities -- contained a small section of values activities for students in the classroom.  Those few pages of classroom values activities became the inspiration and impetus for this program.

Living Values:  An Educational Program was born when twenty educators from around the world gathered at UNICEF Headquarters in New York City in August of 1996 to discuss the needs of children, their experiences of working with values, and how educators can integrate values to better prepare students for lifelong learning.  Using Living Values: A Guidebook and the Convention on the Rights of the Child as a framework, the global educators identified and agreed upon the purpose and aims of values-based education worldwide -- in both developed and developing countries. 


Educator evaluations have been collected from teachers implementing the program in countries around the world.  The most frequent themes noted in the reports are positive changes in teacher–student relationships and in student-student relationships both inside and outside the classroom.  Educators note an increase in respect, caring, cooperation, motivation, and the ability to solve peer conflicts on the part of the students.  Aggressive behaviors decline as positive social skills and respect increase.  A few educator comments are noted below. 

At West Kidlington Primary School in Oxford , England , the Headteacher, Mr. Neil Hawkes, reported that in a working class neighborhood school students learned to be responsible for their behavior.  He noted: “They enjoy peaceful, respectful, cooperative relationships with their peers and teachers.  The school enables the students to think carefully about values and to reflect values in their behavior and attitudes.  School assemblies have become a powerful vehicle for teaching values, raising self-esteem, and developing enthusiasm.”  Parents voice appreciation of the changes and are involved in the values education process as relevant assignments are brought home for discussion.  Mr. Hawkes is of the opinion that when an entire school focuses on values, the impact is greater and more positive.

Mr. Peter Williams worked with somewhat older students in a middle school in Beijing , China .  When he asked his Chinese colleague, Ms. Ao Wen Ya, why she thought a peace imagining exercise was successful, she said:  “It helped the children to find peace by themselves.  It helped the children to feel happy and relaxed.  It made them really want to be happy and motivated to build a better world and be kind to each other.”  She additionally noted, “Now they are more engaged in their subjects because they are interested.  They are motivated to learn because they are valued as people . . .  They are now calmer and not as naughty.  The quality and standards of work are higher.  They are willing to take risks to express themselves well with more confidence.”  An observer from the Chinese Academy of Sciences commented that the motivation of the children had been greatly enhanced, and it transferred to other lessons.

In Zimbabwe , Ms. Natasha Ncube used Living Values Educational materials with her class at Prince Edward Boys’ High School in Harare .  She felt the reflection activities helped improve discipline; the storytelling and discussions allowed her to learn individual opinions of the students; and the group work developed unity, cooperation, patience and tolerance in students.  Her comments:  “Discipline has improved.  I noticed the development of self-confidence in many students, appreciation, recognition of values in others, as well as in the self.  The students became more open-minded, not only confident, and also fearless in expression of their own opinion.”  She also noted that many students began doing their work on time because they had become more conscientious:  “They believed in themselves.” 

Erica Palaviccini, a teacher at a high school in Tijuana , Mexico , shared her experience of the changes after doing Living Values Activities for four months:  “My students have improved in their conduct.  One example is that they no longer tease other students when they make a mistake in class.  They are more responsible in wearing their uniform and their attendance has improved.  They are also better at discerning what is “good” and what is not.  There is now more respect between student and teacher, student and student, and teacher and teacher.  We teachers have also improved in our attendance and planning.  Another result is that as teachers we used to look only at our errors and now we are seeing our virtues and qualities.”

Refugee teachers at a camp in Thailand have been using LVEP’s Living Values Activities for Refugees and Children-Affected-by-War.  The educators noted that it is the favorite class of the day for students, and that the students are more expressive and well mannered.  The sadness and anger exhibited by some of the students is noticeably less and violence has declined considerably.

The first formal external evaluations of the effect on student behavior will begin in 2002.  For further comments, kindly see the Country Reports or Newsletters on the web site.


[1] Delors, Jacques, et al.  Learning: The Treasure Within, Report to UNESCO of the International Commission on Education for the Twenty-first Century. UNESCO Publishing, 1996.  ISBN 0 7306 9037 7 http://www.unesco.org/education/pdf/15_62.pdf