November Newsletter 2013

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Ethics Education for Children

Enhancing children's innate ability to make positive contributions

Issue Nº 2 - November 2013  
Dear friends,

Welcome to the November edition of the Arigatou International - Ethics Education Newsletter. The month of November is an important month for those working for the wellbeing of children.  On 20 November many organisations and peoples from all over the world come together to celebrate Universal Children's Day - a day established in 1954 by the United Nations to promote a coordinated effort to improve the wellbeing of children.  Though Children's Day varies from country to country, 20 of November is also an opportunity to conmemorate the Adoption of the Convention on the Rights of Child, and to join hands to celebrate the World Day of Prayer and Action for Children, launched by Arigatou International in 2008.

All these opportunities to come together to work for the wellbeing of children and youth, also help us reflect about the challenges children face, the violence they are exposed to, and rethink and redefine our approaches.  These are also valuable opportunities to reflect on the many and varied gifts that children and youth bring to our lives, their innocence, their wisdom, their capacities, their open minds, their creativity, and power to bring us together and beyond our own possibilities.

This edition of the Ethics Education Newsletter invites us to reflect about the multiple ways we can nurture spirituality in children and youth; showcases how the manual is being implemented by young facilitators in Japan and teachers in Bhutan after their first training workshops; presents information about the introduction of the manual in the United States and Zagreb, and its continuous implementation in Ecuador, and highlights a very powerful story from a conflict ridden area in Colombia affected by poverty and violence, where the Learning to Live Together is being used to respond to the ethical challenges that affect children.  The voices of youth are also present in this newsletter with the launch of new online discussions led by our GNRC youth on ethics and development, peace and violence, and human rights.

These and many other initiatives will take you through an interesting journey around the world that hopefully will inspire you to join us to continue making ethics education for children a priority today.

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 Mr. Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, 1980 Nobel Peace Laureate

Greetings of peace and wellbeing to all of you. It is very gratifying to have the opportunity to communicate with people from such diverse and faraway places. I was invited to write about the importance of nurturing children’s spirituality when tackling problems that affect them, particularly, the physical and structural violence they are exposed to.

As we all know, we live in a world full of conflicts, wars, hunger, social, and cultural, political and economic inequalities that affect peoples in different parts of the world.

Children and youth are the most exposed to direct, structural and cultural violence, which conditions their physical and spiritual growth. It is necessary to replace the culture of violence with a Culture of Peace by putting in practice the teachings of Peace Education to disarm the culture of violence, in particular, that which is imposed on our own consciences.

We have to recognize the difference between aggressiveness, understood in its positive sense, and violence. People are not born being violent. This is the result of a cultural learning process coming from a system of control and dominance imposed by force and violence in order to sustain a particular model. History is learned from the figure of the heroic leader who has won his place fighting different battles, through the supremacy of the masculine over the feminine, the subjugation of Mother Earth, the incapacity to solve conflicts in a non-violent manner, through the violence in the media, etc.  It has been estimated that a child, after finishing primary school, has seen on TV 8.000 murders and 100.000 violent actions. All these examples are elements that teach a culture of violence. Instead, positive aggressiveness is a human being's gift and it is necessary for transformation and survival towards a fairer world.

Given this scenario, it is necessary to nurture - nurture ourselves in the search for peace in a spiritual dimension. Spiritual life has always been related to values, to ethics, to the deepest decisions concerning people’s inner life and freedom. Ethics and choice of values refer to the human capacity to make decisions through reflection on what is best for their own lives, what is good and what is not good in the search for personal and common realization.

Cultural and spiritual diversity are the richness of people and each individual needs to deepen in his/her own spirituality in order to nurture the life that he/she has received from his/her ancestors, making it possible to find the paths to the transcendence of life. 

Ethics education must teach that violence is not the way. Conflicts must be solved through dialogue and Nonviolence. This ethics education is closely linked to Peace Building, building of a new world whose pillars are respect to human rights, freedom, dialogue, tolerance, friendship between persons and peoples. Children and youth need to grow up with these values because they are the future and also the present. Tomorrow we will reap what we sow today.
By Ms. Agneta Ucko, Vice-Chair of the Interfaith Council on Ethics Education and Former Director Arigatou International Geneva

I strongly believe that children have an innate potential for spiritually. We need to listen carefully to children sharing their spirituality. As adults it is easy to believe that we’re the ones teaching children and youth spirituality in the same way we would teach them how to behave in the street to avoid being run over by cars.  It is not as simple as that.

Spirituality is a posture, it is a way of being, of placing oneself in the universe. It is something that draws us beyond what we are and who we are.

We have all experienced when a child asks a question and we try to answer, only to find that it is followed by another question and yet another, and yet another. It is a never-ending story and as adults we mostly lose out, since we live with the pretension of always having to have an answer.  The challenge for us is to realize that we are here actually experiencing a spiritual moment with our child.  A spirituality of moving beyond is not satisfied with answers. To move beyond is to question. The more questions, the more movement towards the beyond.

Continue reading...

Stories from the Field
The Learning to Live Together Programme used in Istmina, Colombia to respond to the ethical challenges of poverty and violence

This time Stories from the Field brings the voice of Monsignor Julio García, Bishop of the Diocese of Istmina Tadó, Colombia.  Monsignor shares how a GNRC organized workshop on the Learning to Live Together manual, held in June 2013, has led to the emergence of concrete initiatives to address problems of violence and poverty in a very vulnerable neighbourhood, San Agustín de Istmina.

This experience from Colombia shows the relevance of the Learning to Live Together Programme to respond to the ethical challenges of violence and extreme poverty, particularly in areas affected by armed conflict, and as a powerful tool to bring together people to work for peace in the midst of direct, structural and cultural violence.

In focus
First Basic Training Workshop for Facilitators on the Learning to Live Together Programme held in the USA

A Basic Training Workshop for Facilitators on the use of the Learning to Live Together manual was held in Boise, Idaho in the US from 18 - 20 October in collaboration with Catholic Charities of Idaho.

24 participants working as family counsellors with immigrants and refugees, children affected by all kinds of violence, schools affected by bullying, and coming from different religious communities were part of the workshop.  The workshop was part of an initiative to bring the Learning to Live Together Programme for the first time to the United States and explore opportunities with the Catholic Charities of Idaho (CCI) to use the framework of the Learning to Live Together Program to work with families.

Workshop on the Learning to Live Together Programme held at the annual conference of the International Association for Intercultural Education in Zagreb

Arigatou International organized a workshop to introduce its Learning to Live Together Programme at the annual conference of the International Association for Intercultural Education, held from 17 to 21 September in Zagreb at the faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zagreb, under the theme “ Unity and disunity connections and separations”: Intercultural Education as a movement for promotion multiple identities, social inclusion and transformation.

The conference aimed at “discussing the ways in which the plurality and contextuality of identity can be understood, (re)constructed, positioned and explored through the theory and practice of intercultural education.”  

Using the Learning to Live Together Programme in the World Conference of Religions for Peace (WCRP) summer camp

From 14 to 16 September the WCRP summer camp was held at Saitama, Japan. The camp provided a space for young people from different religions to deepen mutual understanding and trust between them through the exchange of ideas.

A workshop based on the Learning to Live Together manual was conducted during the summer camp by Kumiko Shirai and Naoko Hara (Arigatou International staff), who were trained in the use of the manual during a workshop in Japan held at the Myochikai premises in August. 

Naoko tells us in this article how they used the manual, their challenges, main learnings and next steps. A link to the full report can also be found.

Ethics Education Workshop for teachers, youth and leaders of religious institutions in Ecuador

A new workshop on the use of the Learning to Live Together Manual (LTLT) was succesfully held between August 2 to 4, 2013, at Camp New Life on the outskirts of Quito.

The workshop on the conceptual and methodological aspects of the manual had the following thematic framework: "Building a culture of peace in the family, the school and the community".

The 26 participants included teachers and students from two educational institutions, and adults and youth representatives of the Methodist, Lutheran, and Catholic Church, and of the Bah’aí Faith. Two secondary education institutions participated: the “Benito Juarez” Institute (public and secular) and “La Providencia” College (private and religious).
Learning to Live Together Workshop in Bhutan: the experience of Namgay Wagmo implementing the programme

“Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that defences of peace must be constructed”

Bhutan Youth Development Fund organized, in cooperation with Arigatou International and GNRC South Asia, a training workshop on the Learning to Live Together programme. The workshop was held from 4 to 9 March 2013 and was facilitated by Mr. Suchitch Abeyewickreme and Ms. Laura Molnar, international trainers of the Learning to Live Together.

Namgay Wagmo, teacher at Changangkha Middle Secondary School, in Thimphu, Bhutan, participated in the training workshop and shared with us her main learning and the way she is implementing the manual with her students after the workshop.

Ethics Education Initiatives

The Learning to Live Together Programme to be developed into a Digital Game

Arigatou International participated in the 3rd Annual mEducation Alliance International Symposium: Commit Fair for Project Scaling that took place on October 15-16, 2013 in Washington, DC at the premises of the Organization of American States.  Arigatou International presented an initiative to develop the Learning to Live Together Program into a digital game for children.

The Symposium brought together leading donors, private sector representatives, NGOs, researchers, project innovators, and other key policymakers engaged in the field of mobile technologies and education to leverage current commitments to improve and scale carefully chosen projects from the field. The overall goal of the mEducation Commit Fair was for participants to meet potential collaborators and partners with whom they could significantly strengthen and scale promising mEducation opportunities, projects, and initiatives. The Symposium was organized by the MEducation Alliance in collaboration with USAID.

Arigatou International is currently conceptualizing a digital game called Kokoro based on its widely recognized and implemented programme - Learning to Live Together – An Intercultural and Interfaith Programme for Ethics Education.  Kokoro is an interactive game where children aged 12-16 can learn to make ethical decisions, discover places and people of different cultures and religions, reflect on their attitudes and behaviours towards others, an learn to work collaboratively to transform the world.

Arigatou International welcomes collaboration and partnerships with organizations interested to support the development of Kokoro.  If you are interested, please contact

For more information about Kokoro, please click here
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  Did you know?

Did you know that the Learning to Live Together Programme is being used in a multicultural school in Athens, Greece, with physical education during the last three years? A booklet on this successful experience that describes the rationale, process, methodologies and impact on children is being develoepd and will be soon available.

We will share more information in our January edition.
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  Forthcoming events

Interfaith Council Meeting

The newly constituted Interfaith Council on Ethics Education for Children will hold its first meeting in Geneva, Switzerland from 12 to 13 December. 

The objectives of the meeting are to revisit the vision, scope and role of the Council, discuss and identify critical issues and innovative initiatives related to ethics education and interfaith and intercultural learning; and identify strategic areas of work on ethics education for children for the next years.  For more information about the Interfaith Council, please click here

The Learning to Live Together manual to be used during the World Day of Prayer activities in Bosnia & Herzegovina

On the ocassion of the World Day of Prayer and Action for Children celebration, GNRC Bosnia & Herzegovina in collaboration with the Women's Association for Interreligious Dialogue are organizing on 20 November a workshop using the Learning to Live Together manual.

This workshop is part of the youth involvement in the World Day of Prayer which seeks to bring together people of faith and good will to work for the rights and dignity of children.  For more information, click here

The NGO Sixth Sense in cooperation with GNRC Europe is also organizing a workshop on the same day titled "I want to know that there's a way out" using the Learning to Live Together manual.  The workshop will be held during a two day event with the theme of stopping violence against children and peer- to- peer violence with participants from Doboj and surrounding towns. For more information, please click here here
Basic Training Workshop on the Learning to Live Together Programme in El Salvador

A workshop organized by the GNRC El Salvador will be held in Santa Tecla, El Salvador from 19 to 23 January 2014. The workshop is addressed to leaders of religious communities, government organizations, and NGOs working with education programs and child rights in the country.  The workshop is part of an effort to introduce the Learning to Live Together Programme to new organizations in El Salvador and develop a systematic monitoring and follow up process of the implementation with children and youth. For more information, please click here

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  Learning to Live Together to be used to Stand Up for A Million Indian Children Campaign
A nationwide campaign  for vulnerable children was launched this week to mark Children’s Day in Coimbatore, India.  Committed partners from across 10 states of the country will come together for a period of 12 months to stand up for the rights of children and against deprivation and violence in its many forms that affect the majority of children in India.   The campaing is being launched in collaboration with the World Day of Prayer and Action for Children of Arigatou International, industry partners, government agencies, and Ghandian organizations led by Shanti Ashram and Namdhu Pangu.  On 13 November 2000 children and principals from 100 schools were present to mark the launch.  On the 20 November they will gather to celebrate the World Day

Partners will work with schools, in neighborhoods, in places of worship, in public spaces and engage children in knowing their rights, and to reach out to more children and invest in and implement child-centered programmes.  Five specific areas will be prioritized: Introduction to Ethics Education, being the Learning to Live Together Programme the main tool for empowering children; birth certificate verification; Child Rights literacy; age appropriate immunization, community service experience with focus to end child marriage and child Poverty.

We support Standing up for a Million Children, we wish them success in this noble cause and look forward to learning more about it!

If you want to know more, please contact the Secretariat Campaign at
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  Voices of Youth on Ethics

The Ethics Education Initiative has recently launched a new online discussion forum dedicated to youth and ethics.

This forum will be a platform to hear the voices of the GNRC Youth and create dialogue across cultures about issues that affect societies from the youtht's perspective. Topics such as development, human rights, violence and peace and how those are intertwined with ethics and ethics education will be discussed by young people. 

This month, we have the pleasure of reading Nicolas Meslaoui’s contribution titled “Ethics Education and Development”, where Nicolas invites us to rethink our  conception of development and gives a new breath to our role in society. We warmly invite you to read the article and share your thoughts with us.

In the incoming online discussions, Bissan Salman from Israel will share her views about ethics, violence and peace, and Ornella Barros from Colombia about ethics and human rights.

Stay tuned and participate!
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  We want to hear from you!

Tell us how you are using the Learning to Live Together manual

Arigatou International is interested to learn more about how you are using the Learning To Live Together manual and understand better the context in which you are using it.

For this purpose, the Ethics Education Initiative invites all of you who have used or are using the manual to fill in a short questionnaire (it will only take you five minutes). This information will allow us to identify good practices and better ways to continue supporting the work you are doing.

The form is available here or on Facebook, under the page “Use of the Manual”.

We are looking forward to hearing from you!

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