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A Global Listening Initiative Engages over 2000 Children and Youth

Arigatou International Geneva organized four focus group meetings with children from Brazil, Indonesia and Portugal in the framework of the G20 Interfaith Forum (IF20) through its Education Working Group.

The IF20 offers an annual platform for religious, faith and interfaith organizations communities to constructively engage with the agendas set by the G20 leaders. For 2021, the G20’s agenda focuses on People Planet Prosperity, and the IF20 dedicates its reflection and dialogue on the theme of A Time to Heal.

To understand the perspectives of children on how education can contribute to the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, the IF20 Education Working Group, of which Arigatou International Geneva is a member, launched a Global Listening Initiative (GLI). Over 2000 young people aged 14-19 from 26 countries participated in the initiative, identifying actions for educational transformation, and providing key information on their lived experiences in diverse contexts.

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The participants were invited to reflect on their experiences of life and education during the Covid-19 pandemic; identify who and what have been most supportive to their learning and well-being; and propose educational policy priorities that can explicitly support their healing, learning and flourishing.

The focus group meetings organized by Arigatou International Geneva brought together 46 children aged 14 to 18 from Christian, Jewish and Muslim communities, and over 12 accompanying adults including teachers, social workers and non-formal educators working with children in the framework faith communities.

The meeting in Brazil was organized in collaboration with Ms. Shirley Jungman and with youth and educators from Lar das Crianças da congragação Israelista Paulista. In Indonesia, in collaboration with Mr. Fendra Kus Nuryadi and Ms. Wati Wardami and with students and educators from eight different schools. In Portugal, it was organized in collaboration with Mrs. Manuela Leal from Apostolate Mouvement of Children, as well as with youth from the Professional School Vértice and the support of Mrs. Caroline Gomes.

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On 28th September, an IF20 high-level dialogue took place on Zoom, chaired by the IF20 Vice President, Professor Katherine Marshall. National politicians, interfaith leaders and international educational directors drew on their expertise and experiences and explored how these priorities and proposed action might be meaningfully integrated into relevant contexts. Most importantly, selected young people who took part in the Global Listening Initiative joined global leaders and shared their voices and their rationales for such policy priorities and subsequent action.

Arigatou International Geneva supported the preparation of the children and young people attending the event to be active and engaged participants during the meeting.

The dialogue aimed to discuss policy recommendations together with young people, government representatives, religious leaders and civil society representatives. The meeting moderated by Dr. Katherine Marshall, was attended by the Finland State Secretary, the Deputy Minister of Education of Portugal, a member of the Argentinian Parliament, as well as by the President of the Global Tolerance Council in the UAE, among others.

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