Ethics Education for Children - September Newsletter

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Ethics Education for Children

Enhancing children's innate ability to make positive contributions

Issue Nº 1 - September 2013  
Dear friends,

Welcome to the September edition of the Arigatou International - Ethics Education Newsletter.  In this issue Arigatou International joins the United Nations, religious communities, and many other organizations and individuals around the world to celebrate the International Day of Peace, which focuses this year on Education for Peace

Cognizant of the importance of ethics education and intercultural and interfaith learning to contribute to the promotion of social cohesion and peace building, this special edition features the contribution of Arigatou International to Education for Peace, and presents several stories of the implementation of the Ethics Education Initiative by many of our partners in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America and the Caribbean.  It also highlights the voices of children and youth and forthcoming activities, as well as information from the Interfaith Council on Ethics Education for Children.  

I hope that the information and stories presented serve as an inspiration for all of us to continue making a difference in the lives of children and youth around the world affected by violence, war, negligence, discrimination and disempowerment.  Let us be a light in the midst of the many challenges the world faces, and let us use the many opportunities and possibilities we have to continue transforming the world together.

For our next editions, we welcome contributions and invite you to submit your stories using the Learning to Live Together program in your own contexts. 

In peace,

Maria Lucia Uribe
Director Arigatou International - Geneva
Inside this issue
By Rev. Keishi Miyamoto, President Arigatou International

We recently celebrated the 10th anniversary of Arigatou International’s work in the area of ethics education for children. It has been a wonderful decade of “Learning to Live Together,”  thanks to our many partners and, most of all, to the thousands of amazing young people who have taken part in the workshops and other learning opportunities.
With every passing year, the world’s recognition grows that peace will never come without better education. With this trend, more and more people are also realizing that we need a profound shift in the fundamental purpose of education. Education can no longer be focused on training future producers and consumers of goods for the sake of patriotic economic growth. The education of the future — a viable future of non-violence and cooperation — will empower young people to become peacemakers who excel in building healthy human relationships across cultures.

Our Learning to Live Together program provides this sort of learning opportunity. Best of all, it packages it in a way that makes it easy not just for youth leaders of all kinds, but also school educators, to use with diverse groups of young people. It has already been put to good use in formal education in countries as diverse as Ecuador, Greece, Israel, South Africa, and Sri Lanka, and my hope is that it will make much greater inroads in schools in the next decade.

We are about to celebrate the International Day of Peace on September 21, and for the first time, this year it is focused on “education for peace.” Peace is the ultimate goal of all of Arigatou International’s initiative, and it is the reason we started promoting ethics education. We chose to work with young people because they are our inspiration and our hope for peace. They bring an openness, idealism, and creativity which remind us of humanity’s best potential. If we provide today’s young people with chances to encounter and learn from others of different religious and cultural backgrounds, their innate spirituality will flourish. As they grow, they can become the divinely inspired bridge-builders the world so desperately needs — true to their own beliefs yet interested in and respectful of others’. If we empower youth like this, and then listen and learn, we can build peace where there was none, reconcile the irreconcilable, and put an end to violence and war.  
By Dr. Kezevino Aram, Director Shanti Ashram and Chair Interfaith Council on Ethics Education for Children

I was witness to a ‘community food bank’, a very creative initiative that Arun, a child from one of our service villages initiated a few years ago. The trigger ‘a testimony of hunger’ that formed part of the ethics education workshop he had participated in.  He was honoured at the annual Coimbatore peace festival for his concrete work in serving society and building peace. As his name was read out along with his background, initiative and achievements …the applause from the assembled children and young people got almost deafening. I sat there moved by this spontaneous ‘sangamam’, a coming together of children, one that transcended words and differences. This sangamam was based on what they valued and appreciated. The food bank continues even today to draw great energy and contribution from children in serving families living with HIV in my city Coimbatore.

Reflecting on such particular experiences leads me to the larger question:

• Are we giving our children within and beyond education both formal and non-formal, time and space enough to discover their humane sides?
• Is the current educational framework equipped to bring life oriented knowledge, real life situations, critical thinking and response models that will allow them to adapt ethical practices in this ever shrinking global village?.

The answer clearly is NO!

Continue reading...

Interfaith Council
New Interfaith Council on Ethics Education for Children is formed

An Interfaith Council on Ethics Education for Children was established in 2004, with the aim to develop, design and promote the Ethics Education initiative in cooperation with all sharing this vision, to seek partnerships and to develop alliances with religious communities, United Nations (UN) agencies, NGOs and others in the effort to realize the Rights of the Child, as set out in the UN Convention. 

The Interfaith Council has been reconstituted in 2013 with a four year mandate. The purpose is to support Arigatou International in its efforts to advocate the widespread implementation of education, that offers children opportunities to fully develop their spirituality, foster among children respect for people of different religions and civilizations, promote the vital role of children as partners in building a world based on ethical values and practices, and contribute to the safeguarding of human dignity. 

The Interfaith Council is composed of 10 members, its Chair is Dr. Kezevino Aram, and the Vice-Chair, Ms. Agneta Ucko.  The first meeting of the Interfaith Council will take place on 12-13 December 2013 in Geneva.  We welcome the new members of the Interfaith Council and wish them a successful term. 

For more information about the membership, please click here
In focus
The Learning to Live Together Manual is Introduced to Formal Education Teachers in Athens

An initiative to introduce the Learning to Live Together manual in schools in Athens is being developed in collaboration with the Inter-Orthodox Center of the Church of Greece, under the leadership of Dr Angelos Vallianatos, National Advisor on Religion Lessons for the Greek Ministry of Education.  The initiative aims to train teachers of primary, secondary and gymnasium levels on the use of the manual to be implemented as part of religious, physical, civic and general education courses in their different educational settings. 

The first Learning to Live Together workshop was held from 13-16 September in the premises of the Inter-Orthodox Center with the participation of 24 teachers.  During four days, the teachers engaged in several discussions about ethics, spirituality and interfaith and intercultural learning, and actively participated in practical activities using the learning approach and methodologies of the manual.

Learning to Live Together Manual Introduced to Myochikai Members in Japan

From 5 to 8 August an ethics education workshop was held at the Myochikai premises in Tokyo to introduce and train members of the youth and women's division in the the Learning to Live Together Programme.  The workshop brought together 28 participants whom for four days engaged in interactive dialogue and activities to learn about the conceptual and pedagogical framework of the manual and gain practical skills to implement it in their groups.

At the end of the workshop, participants prepared concrete plans to use the manual in the Myochikai Youth Summer Camp and within the activities of the women's divisions. 

Ethics Education Workshop Held During Coimbatore Peace Festival 2013

On the 6th of August, the Coimbatore Peace Festival was held in Coimbatore City gathering 1300 children and youth from 79 institutions. The Festival, which focused on problematics such as ending poverty, building peace and transforming the world, was organized and run by the youth section of Shanti Ashram with Arigatou International participating as a knowledge partner.

The Coimbatore Peace Festival was conducted following the guiding principles of respect for the sacredness of different religions, cultures and civilizations and interfaith cooperation for social cohesion and development; it stressed the need for piloting peace building initiatives at the local, national and international level and featuring youth as active participants in developing poverty solutions and building peace.
The Learning to Live Together Manual is Used with Mothers in Porto Alegre, Brazil

GNRC Porto Alegre initiated a project with communities assisted by Pastoral da Criança in Brazil to use the Learning to Live Together manual with mothers.  The purpose is to nurture positive parenting skills and strengthen the mothers' self-esteem and bonds with their children. 

Their first program led by Tiago, one of the GNRC Youth, was based on the first module of the Learning to Live Together manual - Understanding Self and Others. Tiago and his team worked with 90 children and 25 mothers, many of whom are young and single mothers, to learn from one another, share their stories, experiences, beliefs, and challenge their stereotypes and prejudices. Together they discussed about their role as mothers but also as individual members of a society. This is the first of many other activities that will be conducted during the year to promote positive parenting.
Cuba Implements Ethics Education Initiative

GNRC Latin America and the Caribbean organized its first Ethics Education workshop in Cuba. With an impressive view to the Bahía de Matanzas and the participation of a diverse group of adults and youth of different religious communities, the Ethics Education Workshop on the “Learning to Live Together” took place at the Evangelical Seminary of Theology. Around 43 adults and 17 children from different areas of Matanzas city and religous backgrounds enriched the workshop with their contributions, life experiences and artistic talents.

 The objective of the workshop was to promote a culture of peace and responsible positive citizenship among children and youth as a way to support the prevention of violence in families, schools and in the community.  This workshop is part of the GNRC’s efforts to train groups of facilitators in Ethics Education for the countries in the region, encouraging also the celebration of the International Day of Prayer and Action for Children, in the framework of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Stories from the field

The Learning to Live Together Manual as a Contribution to Social Cohesion: The Cape Town Experience - South Africa

This time Stories from the Field brings the voice of Marlene Silbert, former Education Director of the Cape Town Holocaust Center and official Trained Trainer of the Learning to Live Together Program.  Marlene shares how the manual has been used in several programs and thematics in Cape Town ranging from human rights, interfaith and intercultural twining and exchange, and religious diversity.  The Learning to Live Together manual has been endorsed by the Life Orientation Curriculum Advisors in the Western Cape Department of Education and it is now being used throughout the region by many teachers. 

Marlene also shares with us the voices of some of the people who have been involved, including teachers and children, and the impact the programs have had on them.

This experience from Cape Town shows the importance of interfaith and intercultural education programs to bring together people of different beliefs and cultures to work together for peace in post-conflict societies.   

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  Did you know?

Did you know that the Learning to Live Together manual is being implemented in more than 30 countries around the world and it is translated in Arabic, Bosnian, Croatian, French, Japanese, Persian, Portuguese, Serbian and Spanish? It will be soon available in Romanian and Swahili.
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  Forthcoming events

First Learning to Live Together Workshop to be held in the United States

From 18-20 October, Arigatou International in collaboration with the Catholic Charities of Idaho in the United States will hold a Training Workshop on the Learning to Live Together programme. 

The workshop is open to social workers, teachers and youth leaders in the United States working directly with children and youth. For further information, click here
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  Join us to celebrate the World Day of Prayer and Action for Children

We invite you who are using the Learning to Live Together manual around the world to join us on November 20 to celebrate the Day of Prayer and Action for Children through acts of service and prayer to improve children's lives.  Some of our GNRC members and other partners are already planning activities using the manual, particularly to challenge domestic and cultural violence. 

Rita, GNRC Youth member from Portugal, shares with us her initiative to be launched on the World Day to strengthen family systems in Porto through the Learning to Live Together program.  Click here to learn more. 

If you are interested in developing an activity related to this topic for your World Day commemoration, please contact the World Day Secretariat at or the Ethics Education Initiative for content support at
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  Voices of Children and Youth

"Before this experience I had barely met anyone of a different religion or culture. This programme broke down all the stereotypes I had and created unity among our peers. I truly believe this programme will  contribute to creating a more peaceful society where diversity is valued. I have learnt that we can all live together peacefully as humans, talk freely about sensitive topics and respect each other’s opinions."

Participant from Intercultural Program - Cape Town, South Africa

"In the Ethics workshop, no words to say about this. The sessions were enjoyable and memorable. What i learnt from this session is mainly the importance of Responsibility, Unity and Respect. I could make new friends and I came to understand others and know about their likes and dislikes.  During the Peace festival we got an idea of starting a food bank which would help the orphans in Chennai. So on monthly basis we will provide them dhal, rice and pulses.....”

- V.S.Thejashwini, 15yrs old, Navadhisa Montessori School. Chennai

Coimbatore Peace Festival 2013
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  Meet the Arigatou International - Geneva Team

The Arigatou International Geneva office serves as the liaison office with UN agencies and coordinates the work, relations and partnerships with other child rights organizations.  It also serves as the Secretariat of the Interfaith Council on Ethics Education for Children. 

Click here to meet the team
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