Ethics Education for Children: Learning to Live Together, Remarks by Ms. Agneta Ucko
Report on the Ethics Education Initiative
Fourth Plenary: Reports from the Two Initiatives: World Day of Prayer and Action for Children and Ethics Education for Children
Ethics Education for Children: Learning to Live Together
Ms. Agneta Ucko, Director, Arigatou International, and Secretary General, Interfaith Council on Ethics Education for Children, Joined by Local Implementers of Learning to Live Together from around the World
Welcome to this session on the ethics education program and Learning to Live Together.
It is 10 years since the commitment was made to embark on this initiative.
In the depth of each one of us, irrespective of our faith or religion, we all share in the hope that our children and not only our children but children in general will have a future, where they are safe and secure and hopeful as to what their future will bring. We want to see “a world in which all children are empowered to develop their spirituality” … and we hope that “ethics education will enhance children’s innate ability to make positive contributions to the well-being of their peers and within their communities”.
When the commitment was made to put in place an ethics education program, a process was put in motion, which involved the participation of adults and children to develop the intercultural and interfaith program for ethics education, which we named Learning to Live Together.
It is 4 years since it was published and launched with the endorsement of UNICEF and UNESCO. At the GNRC Third Forum we focused on ethical imperatives and we said that “ethics education should be used to protect children from violence, to prevent children from living in poverty and to safeguard the environment”.
Learning to Live Together has since the launch been our main instrument to implement the ethical imperatives committed at the Third Forum. What has happened since 2008?
We invite you to a short journey to look at the lessons learned, to experience some examples of what we have accomplished together through the ethics education program and Learning to Live Together.
We will look at four different aspects reflecting our achievements:
a. the distribution of the printed books
b. the implementation, how we are using the curriculum
c. the users of Learning to Live Together
d. the influence on children, which is the impact of the program that we hope for.
Before we conclude by looking together at the lessons learned, you have on your chairs a document giving you background information about the ethics education initiative.
In Hiroshima all participants received a manual. Many asked for more. The distribution started. Since 2008, we have distributed 4230 hard copies of the manual in 4 languages, English, French, Spanish and Japanese. The Portuguese version has so far only existed as CD-ROM and online but is now also available as a printed book. The Arabic version is ready and validated by UNICEF and UNESCO, only waiting for a final revision. We had planned to launch the Swahili version later today, and it is ready to go to print, we are just waiting for the UNICEF and UNESCO validation of the translation before we can print the books.
The Persian translation is done and the Sinhala is underway. All in all 9 languages.
We have distributed the hard copy of the manual by shipping and by handing it over directly to people we have met in various occasions.
We have shared CD-ROMs and provided free download of the manual in various languages on our ethics education website. The distribution of the manual is spread in the GNRC regions and in some cases also beyond where GNRC is active.
We have developed an Executive Summary for promotion and for those who are interested in knowing about the program without necessary reading the whole book.
The number of books we have distributed is one thing. It is impressive and much thanks to the hard work of all of you and the support from the Arigatou Foundation.
More important is what we have distributed, the content and approach and the impact it has had and has on children and communities that have participated in the program.
Let us visit the next kiosk and look at the implementation of the Learning to Live Together.
We have collected data for an evaluation of the ethics education program during the course of the last year and, thanks to the information we have received from many of you, we can now together look at some examples of what we have done, how we have done it, who has benefitted, and what are the lessons learned.
Let us look at how Learning to Live Together is implemented with children invillages, camps and after-school programs.
Let’s look at India as one example where we see how the manual is being used to promote children’s participation.
(Speaker: Arunkumar Thiruppathi)
As a result of her participation in a Learning to Live Together workshop in Shanti Ashram, Tamil Nadu, 17-year old Aswathi, was inspired and empowered to develop her own project towards the eradication of stigma against HIV/AIDS infected and affected children. She started to collect used school books and the project she developed led children with AIDS to interact with 2,000 other school children, who donated books to set up a library especially for AIDS children. Media coverage led donors to grant twelve children with AIDS access to free education.
In Coimbatore and neighboring villages, children participate in workshops and camps, where the Learning to Live Together interactive and participatory approach is used, which often result in concrete projects proposed by children themselves. Arun, you participated in a Learning to Live Together workshop and you started another project, which is now a movement. Tell us what you did…
Arun: Till I realized the pangs of hunger I had never given a handful to anyone. I knocked the door of one house and asked for a bowl of rice. And I got it. So, I went to the next house with my friends and asked for the same. And we got it. I understood that your hand-full is the basis for one life… of many lives.
Thank you, Arun.
Let’s go to Panama where the program is community based, used to work with indigenous children
In Panama, the Learning to Live Together is used in the same participatory way when working with indigenous communities. The denigration and exclusion of indigenous traditions in society has made GNRC work to support the Indians to make them feel proud of their culture, take care of their language and traditions. It is a way to restore a community and promote better understanding and respect of each other.
Let’s go to Tanzania and look at the work of the peace clubs and ethics education radio program.
Here in Tanzania, child-and youth-led peace clubs have been established in schools and community centers in various regions of the country. Based on the Learning to Live Together manual, children and youth are actively spreading the message of peace in the communities through debates, arts contests and performances, media programs, and thematic workshops. Peace clubs leaders, as well as the patrons and matrons supporting their activities, receive training on how to use Learning to Live Together by GNRC Africa in Tanzania.
An ethics education radio program has been implemented in Tanzania, Kenya and Somalia since 2009 using the Learning to Live Together in involving children and youth in producing the radio programs.
Let’s go to Belgium where Learning to Live Together is used by youth working with children.
(Speaker: Arunkumar Thiruppathi)
The GNRC Youth Committee in Belgium is a genuine example of the active parti cipation and leadership of young people to generate concrete actions to transform the world in a positive way. The youth decided to bring together a group of young people to organize activities for children. Set up in 2008, the group has been running activities for and with children on issues related to exclusion and violence, ethics education and interfaith learning. Learning to Live Together is the main tool used in their programs and activities.
Nicolas, you returned from the GNRC Third Forum with a commitment to do something for the children in your neighborhood. In what way has Learning to Live Together been helpful for your work?
Nicolas: After the Third Forum, I got so inspired and motivated that I came back to Belgium with the commitment to create a GNRC Youth Group. The Third Forum was a turning point in the development of the GNRC in Belgium. Indeed, before the Forum there was no real committee consolidated and this is the reason why I decided to create a youth group after the Forum.
As soon as I returned from Hiroshima, I gathered with two youths that I met in other GNRC workshops in Belgium. After some meetings we ended up creating the GNRC Youth Committee for Belgium. Our objectives were clear: use the Learning to Live Together as a tool of facilitation with children from different faiths and backgrounds. Since 2008 we started organizing activities with children using mainly the LTLT manual. Quickly the Youth Group expanded and we are now 10 youths working in the organization of the GNRC Youth Activities in Belgium working this year mainly with refugee children.
Thank you, Nicolas.
Let’s look at the video from the activities with refugee children.
Let’s go to the Middle East where the program is used connecting children and youth across boarders.
Syria | Lebanon | Egypt
The GNRC Arab States has always stressed the participation and realized the importance of connecting youth and children in the Region as a strong force for engagement and GNRC works now and in the future.
In all the countries GNRC Arab States is active in, including Egypt, Lebanon and Syria, youth and children are organized in GNRC Youth Groups: the nine GNRC AS Youth Net Groups participate in and organize GNRC activities and initiatives including Ethics Education Workshops and the celebration of DPAC. The youth also join in regional initiatives on Human Rights and Capacity Building. During these meetings and workshops, youth and children meet, learn, plan and strategize for a better Arab reality. They are an example of youth and child involvement across borders.
Let’s go to Romania and look at the work with children in institutions.
In Romania, the Learning to Live Together activities are used with children living in an institution in order to better meet their immediate needs. It is an extra challenge to work with children living in institution.
Using the Learning to Live Together manual enriches the daily activities with the children. The plans are to schedule a program with a group of children, to step- by-step implement the ethics education program in more coherent and sustainable way.
Let’s go to Israel and see the focus on un- learning and re-learning for interpersonal change.
(Speaker: Bissan Salman)
In Israel, Learning to Live Together has been used to develop ‘Massa-Massar: A Journey of Discovery’, which is a regional initiative designed, planned, and implemented jointly by the Pluralistic Spiritual Centre of Neve Shalom/ Wahat al- Salam and the Open House in Ramle, with the support of Arigatou International and GNRC Israel.
A group of young Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Israelis aged 15-17 set off on a journey of discovery both of their own national, religious and spiritual identity and of the identity of other groups sharing their land. Documentation is available at our table outside.
Bissan, you have participated in the Massa-Massar program and you have been involved with GNRC for several years, being exposed to the ethics education program Learning to Live Together. Can you share what this has meant for you, for your own growth and preparedness for change on an interpersonal level?
Bissan: My name is Bissan. I am an Arab Palestinian girl who lives in Israel. I have been involved in GNRC since I’m 15 years old, a young girl without any confidence accepting racism and blaming the destiny. GNRC provides me the right education tools and values to understand that I’m also human, that I deserve rights, that although I’m young, I still can make a change and work against racism.
Today, I’m a student in Bar-Ilan University in Israel, a Jewish religious, right wing university, studying political science, while I’m the only Arab girl in the faculty with no fear and full of self-confidence, ready to inspire act and change.
As Mother Teresa reminds us, “We cannot do great things on this earth. We can only do small things with great love”. And I think that these small things will make the change.
After one year at university, people start to understand that I’m a human just like them, they start to listen to the other side, they start to understand.
Students that saw me at the beginning with a lot of suspicion and prejudice are today my best friends and invited me to a mutual dialogue and for me that is the change.
Thank you, Bissan.
Let’s go to Colombia where learning to Live Together is used for creating programs in a context of violence.
(Speaker: Ornella Barros Carrasquilla)
Ethics education workshops have been held for teachers, parents, and children both in Colombia and in the volatile border region shared by Colombia and Ecuador. Using case studies, role-plays and discussion, the participants in the workshops were encouraged to map out conflict issues, explored non-violent alternatives, and make personal commitments to build peace
The Bahá’í faith, the Buddhist community, Christian churches and ecumenical organizations in Colombia are using Learning to Live Together to promote values that counteract violence in schools and homes in the country and to empower youth to be peace builders.
Ornella, you have been involved with GNRC since you were 12 years old. Can you share with us what this has meant for you and how you use the ethics education program to create programs in the schools to counter the violence against children that you see around you in your city?
Ornella: This experience has changed my life 10 years ago. It made me sensible about realities of children around the world, but specially made me feel as part of the change we need.
I use the ethics education program to strengthen the process in my country through the work we do in the national committee.
Because of our complex context we have to promote leadership from the collective work. In this sense, the most important goal is to promote awareness about the “revolution of small things”. It means that doesn’t matter how small you think your initiatives are, but the way you make them part of others. At the end you will find a huge and strong network that has an impact in the society.
In this moment we use Learning to Live Together as a guide of the process we have, but specially focus on the collective construction of an alternative model of discipline in the families. This project is in partnership with UNICEF Colombia and will be implemented at schools, faith communities and families, in order to empower children to be a defenders of values and human rights.
Thank you, Ornella.
Let’s go to Greece and learn how Learning to Live Together is used as a resource in formal education.
We have several examples of teachers using Learning to Live Together in schools, i.e. formal educational settings. It is done among other places
– in Israel in the TALI program,
– in South Africa, and
– in Greece by a gym teacher in her physical education class.
Gelly, who was here with us until and served as one of facilitators at the Pre-meeting is a physical education teacher in Greece. She now calls her gym classes “Learning to Play Together” paraphrasing the title of the manual. In the class she has children from different ethnic backgrounds but also different gender and it is a challenge for them to play together.
You see some of the used activiti es in these pictures. In order to build building bridges of trust with the students they changed the game “musical chairs” to make it more cooperative than competitive. Instead of eliminating players as the chairs get less and less they have to find ways for all of them to sit or stand in the chair/s that are left.
Psychical education can promote competition, which can fuel tensions between ethics groups in an aggressive way. It is a challenge to maintain a healthy level of competition and still promote cooperation.
One of the photos shows a project when they together with another school organized a tournament for the class to play with a class of Greek students. Teams were mixed and not Greeks against immigrant children.
The Users of Learning to Live Together
We continue our journey and take a look at those who are using Learning to Live Together and what their experience is. Through interviews we have learned about the users and from the users.
All users underline the importance of training in how to use Learning to Live Together.
Arigatou International arranged a pilot Train the Trainers course in December 2010 for 24 trainers to build capacity for training at regional and local level. This course was done in collaboration with the School of Education at Edinburgh University.
Here is a glimpse from the Train the Trainers course. There is a report from the training available at our desk outside.
Let us now visit a few of the trained users and hear what they have to share.
Let’s go to Sudan where the program is used for change of society.
(Speaker: Maryam Awad)
Sudan is a diverse society and people are basically open-minded. But when the country became populated by people from neighboring and foreign countries, conflicts arose, because people were not able to live together. And this was cause for the separation of the country in 2011.
Maryam lives in Sudan. You attended a basic training on the use of Learning to Live Together in Amman, Jordan, several years ago and then the first Train the Trainers course in 2010. You decided to train facilitators in your city on how to use Learning to Live Together.
Why do you think the ethics education program can make a difference in the Sudanese society?
Maryam: In South Sudan, the Christians are in the majority, but in North Sudan they are a minority and have therefore become victims of discrimination. The Christian families are scared to send their children to the local schools because of the tension between the religious groups.
I think that in our diverse society, we need to foster good ethics to allow people to better understand each other. I think the next generation needs to learn how to live together; it is the most important thing if we want to build a society based on peace and respect. If we don’t, I fear that after a few years, all groups of the population will ask for independence. And it will cause a new partition of Sudan.
Thank you, Maryam.
Let’s go to South Africa where there is a focus on teachers training.
In South Africa, a project to include Learning to Live Together in the Life Orientation Curriculum of and secondary education in Cape Town is currently being developed.
A pilot program for children from 12 to 17 years old (grades 7—11) will be implemented over a period of one year in the Western Cape province.
Youth and adults from the organizations that are part of the program are the multipliers and facilitators of workshops held periodically based on the manual. These workshops take place in schools and informal educational settings. In 2009 the program expanded to four cities, covering more than 1,000 children, and 40 facilitators were trained on how to use the manual.
The Eight month training for schoolteachers is designed to provide them with tools to cope with diversity in the classroom and train them in participatory methodologies like the ones proposed in Learning to Live Together. The training is experiential- based and focuses on the four values of the manual, providing spaces for the teachers to internalize the concepts.
Let’s visit El Salvador and see how the program can promote interfaith collaboration.
n El Salvador, several Christian churches, the Bahá’í Faith and the Muslim community work together for and with children and young people to promote ethical values that can foster peace and reconciliation in the society.
Youth leaders aged 16 to 25 from the GNRC religious communities have been trained on how to use Learning to Live Together to work together with children from other religious communities to respond to the ethical challenges of a society that is highly affected by violence.
Activities with children are held inter-religiously to promote mutual understanding and interfaith collaboration. The participants discuss and work with issues related to the violation of human rights and to strengthening children’s spirituality.
During the last two years more than 150 children have benefited from workshops based on the manual, working in specific projects of service to the communities.
Our collaboration with UNICEF and UNESCO in developing Learning to Live Together has continued during the years since the Third Forum.
In 2011, UNESCO Headquarters in Paris hosted a basic training on the use of the manual and in collaboration with GNRC Europe, Arigatou International engaged the trainers from Caux to run two parallel training workshops in English and French for teachers in formal education.
This has opened the way for a closer collaboration with the UNESCO Associated Schools Network.
Let’s go to Sri Lanka where Learning to Live Together is used to build partnership for healing of society.
(Speaker: Suchith Abeyewickreme)
Sri Lanka is currently in a post-armed conflict reality, where there is a strong need for reconciliation among its people.
Learning to Live Together is used as resource to support reconciliation among children of the various ethnic and religious communities in Sri Lanka by the GNRC South Asia coordinating partner – Sarvodaya. Non-formal educational programs have been run for children over the past 4 years and trainings on LTLT have been carried out for educators and youth leaders. Suchith, you have developed important partnerships for this post-conflict reconciliation process and you use Learning to Live Together. Tell us how you did it…
Suchith: Cooperation between GIZ (German development agency), the National Institute of Education and Sarvodaya made it possible to train 20 curriculum developers on the use of Learning to Live Together. The workshops were timed ahead of the new curriculum revision process during which there is ample opportunity to include content from LTLT in the curriculum.
Next steps will focus on disseminating of Learning to Live Together at various levels including training of teacher trainers, in- service advisors and students at National Colleges of Education. The need of the NIE for teacher training to support the upcoming curriculum revision process, the GIZs interest in the Education for Social Cohesion and the LTLT as a resource that complements their own M&E tool in the same name, has helped make this cooperation possible.
The Sri Lankan example shows a good progression of use of the LTLT manual initially through children’s workshops, for training youth leaders and educators and then to engage the formal education sector at the national level.
Thank you, Suchith.
Influence on Children
The next stop on our journey is to look at the influence on children.
In order to measure the possible impact or influence on children, we have done a study in line with the impact assessment suggested in the manual.
We brought together 15 children and asked them to complete a questionnaire before they participated in a session using the kiosks in the manual. After the session, the children were asked to complete the same questionnaire.
The results of the study show that the participation in the session had an influence on the children and we can see that we have a documented potential for change.
This is an instrument that we now can use to better get to know the impact of the program.
Conclusion: Lessons Learned
We have collected data for our evaluation, we though we haven’t yet finished the process of analysis and conclusions, but from the data we have and from the examples we have shared with you today, we have some initial lessons learned.
We see diversity in use of the program, which includes different educational settings and contexts. It means in schools and camps, in institutions and in youth activities,it is used to further interfaith cooperation and children’s participation for interpersonal change and taking responsibilities in the communities. We have even learned that the manual is used in a parenting program in the US.
The users underline that the motivation for using the manual is triggered by a feeling of connection and relevance to their own context.
Likewise, the importance of training on the use of the manual is affirmed by all users. Only after having participated in training, does the full potential of the use of the program become clear.
The data collected for the evaluation has taken into consideration only the sustainable use of the manual and one-time events have not been included in the figures we have at hand.
Involving children, inspiring children, engaging children—building self-esteem and making each child proud of him/ herself, equipped for critical thinking and empowered to take on the commitment to be agents of change in their own communities—this is our aspiration and wish. And through the study we have now a documented potential for change.
Learning to Live Together, the tangible outcome of the ethics education initiative, is our resource to empower and involve children and youth.
We see that it is already used in the World Day of Prayer and Action initiative.
And we believe that it is the pedagogy for the new poverty initiative.
I thank you for following us in this journey, looking at the distribution and the implementation of Learning to Live Together, the users’ experiences, the impact the program has had on children and youth. I thank the youth who are with me here on the stage to share their stories.
I have been intentional in asking youth to join me in this presentation because I think that… youth is the new energy for GNRC!