Arigatou International - Ethics Education Newsletter May 2014

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Ethics Education for Children

Enhancing children's innate ability to make positive contributions

Issue Nº 4 - May 2014  
Dear friends,

Welcome to the May edition of the Arigatou International - Ethics Education Newsletter.  

As we look for new motivation, resources and ideas to continue improving the lives and well-being of children and youth around the world, we turn to our inner selves to ask for wisdom, strength, balance and guidance to lighten our path and ourselves. 

Arigatou International Geneva started its new fiscal year with the launch of a systematic implementation of the Learning to Live Together Programme in Brazil, Ecuador, El Salvador, Greece and India; Kenya, Romania, South Africa will also soon join this process during the next months.  In these locations educators have been trained and specific programs related to the context and realities of children and youth  are being developed and will be implemented for a period between 9 to 12 months. Arigatou International Geneva will be supporting these initiatives, monitoring and evaluating the processes, results and impact on the facilitators, children and youth.  It is expected that in each location a Community of Practice of the Learning to Live Together will be formed creating the basis for a systematic and sustainable implementation of the Learning to Live Together Programme that can contribute to the promotion of mutual understanding and respect in these societies. 

In June we are kicking off the Strengthening Family Systems programme with pilot processes in Brazil, Ecuador, India, Portugal and the United States.  In collaboration with GNRC Committees in Brazil, Ecuador and Portugal, Shanti Ashram in India and the Catholic Charities of Idaho in the United States, the Learning to LIve Together framework will be adapted to work with families, particularly with parents, to develop child rearing skills, support the creation of safe and caring environments for children, and spaces and opportunities to nurture values and spirituality in the family that can help children grown, develop and thrive in plural societies.  This programme is a valuable initiative to contribute to ending corporal punishment and violence against children in the family, promoting healthy, caring and loving relations between children, parents and other caregivers, and providing spaces for children to learn to live together with others.

In June we will also launch the Learning to Live Together manual in Romanian in partnership with Solmentis Association and the Romania National Commission of UNESCO.  The launch will also see the formalization of relations with partners in Romania, where the Learning to Live Together has been accredited by the Ministry of Education for specific courses for teachers delivered by our formal trainers.

This month we are also launching Learning to Play Together, a new booklet in our series of Good Practices that showcases the adaptation and use of the Learning to Live Together in physical education in a multicultural school in Athens.  Learning to Play Together has been implemented with fifth-grade students from the Elementary School of Intercultural Education in Faliro, Athens, Greece since 2011. In contexts of exclusion and discrimination that affect many immigrant and refugee children around the world, initiatives like Learning to Play Together can provide quality, inclusive, relevant, fun and safe education for all children.

These and many more information about our programs and activities can be found in this edition and their progress will be documented and shared in upcoming newsletters.  For our next editions, we welcome contributions and invite you to submit your stories using the Learning to Live Together programme in your own contexts.

In peace,

Maria Lucia Uribe
Director Arigatou International - Geneva
Inside this issue
By Mrs Jane Baron-Rechtman, Professor of World Religions and Bio-ethics at the Masters School in Dobbs Ferry, NY and Member of the Interfaith Council on Ethics Education for Children
I had a professor once who used to say there are two things you should read every day: the Bible and the New York Times.  His thinking was, if you want to understand human beings, what makes us tick, what our strengths, weaknesses, values, yearnings, wishes, sense of reality is all about, there’s nothing more human than those two texts.  Personally, I expand that to include the wisdom literature of all different traditions – and the New York Times.  And I consider myself so very fortunate that as a teacher of the world religions, I get to spend my days doing just that – reading and discussing the wisdom literature of different human cultures – with young minds who make really interesting comments and questions.

I get to ponder the important questions of life and the answers from extremely different world views!  The shamanic experience taps into layers of reality vastly different than my here and now.  And yet, who knows, maybe they’re in touch with the multi-universes that string theorists speak of.  Maybe the spirits of indigenous cultures are the same as entangled particles.
Arigatou International Geneva Annual Report 2013-2014
From the solemn gloom of the temple children run out to sit in the dust, God watches them play and forgets the priest. (Rabindranath Tagore)

"It is ten years since Arigatou International opened an office in Geneva to coordinate the interfaith-based ethics education global initiative. Intercultural and interfaith-based ethics education is an attempt to nurture children’s ethical values and to provide space for their innate spirituality. In an ever-changing world, which has become increasingly complex, there is a need to enable children to build constructive relations with others. The ethics education initiative wants to empower children towards constructive change and critical thinking. An ethical imperative guides our work and pedagogical approach: ethics are basic in protecting children from violence, in assuring that no child lives in poverty and in safeguarding the environment."

The Annual Report 2013 - 2014 describes the achievements during the last year and outlines the current initiatives of the Arigatou International Geneva office to strengthen its ethics education initiative and promote the advancement of children's rights.
Click here to download the full report.



Interfaith Council Meeting
Interfaith Council to meet in Athens, Greece from 3 - 5 June
The Interfaith Council on Ethics Education for Children will meet for the second time since its formation in September 2013.

Following up its first meeting held in Geneva in December 2013, this will be a new opportunity to deepen the discussions opened and provide further strategic direction to the Secretariat.

The meeting will take place from 3 to 5 June 2014 in Athens, Greece and aims to explore and further define the framework of the new foci areas of the Secretariat related to Strengthening Family Systems and Global Citizenship Education.  It also aims to discuss the challenges of interfaith and intercultural education and strategies to move our work forward.

During the meeting, the Interfaith Council members will also receive updates on the current and future programs of the Arigatou International Geneva office. A panel will be held to discuss issues related to “Interfaith Education in Predominant Mono-religious Societies – the Case of Greece”  with representatives of the Ministry of Education, Religion and Sports and religious education teachers.  On the last day of the meeting, a guided tour on Ethics in Old Greece will take place to provide a space for Interfaith Council members to reflect on the work we do on ethics and its interrelations with issues that affect socieites today. 
In focus
The Learning to Live Together Programme as framework for Strengthening Family Systems in Portugal

A Basic Training workshop on Ethics Education took place in Porto, Portugal from 14 to 17 May 2014. The workshop was organized in collaboration with GNRC Portugal and aimed to train 23 educators and social workers working with children and families in Porto on how to use the Learning to Live Together programme.

The training workshop took place in the framework of the Strengthening Family Systems Programme of Arigatou International Geneva. The participants came from formal and non-formal educational settings: schools, child-focused NGOs, foster care centers and from the Portuguese Commission for Child and Youth protection. The institutions that attended the workshop will be working with children and families during the next six to 12 months after the workshop to implement the programme with children and youth in schools and with families.

This workshop was developed in the framework of the Strengthening Family Systems that is a new programme of Arigatou International Geneva that aims to develop resources for positive parenting and child rearing skills, for the creation of safe environments for children and for early childhood development activities that suppor the full and healthy development of the child.

Learning to Live Together workshop for parents in Ecuador

In the framework of the new Strengthening Family Systems initiative of Arigatou International, GNRC Ecuador has initated an ethics education program for parents of children who are part of the Learning to Live Together activities of the Benito Juárez school in Quito. 

The family program has as main objective to familiarize parents with the content of the manual in order for them to know what their children are learning during the workshops, and to provide them with new tools and skills in their role as parents.  The main thematic areas that are included in the program are: building a safe home to grow based on mutual understanding and building a peaceful environment for children using non-violent alternatives to deal with problems.  

The following is the outcome of the first meeting held with parents on 9 May.  A series of meetings will be held for a period of six months on monthly basis. 

A Community of Practice of the Learning to Live Together is being formed in Athens, Greece

Following the Basic Training Workshop on the Learning to Live Together Programme that was held in September 2013 in Athens, a follow up and monitoring process started at the end of October to support the implementation and adaptation of the programme in the educational institutions from where the participants came from.

Since then the Learning to Live Together Programme has been used systematically by eight teachers of kindergarden, primary and secondary education in subjects related to geography, religion, physical education and civic education. 

The following is an interesting report of the implementation process conducted by the teachers, highlighting the experiences, challenges and impact on the teachers, children and youth. 
Learning To Live Together Workshop implemented by members of GNRC South Africa

A one-day workshop on the Learning to Live Together Programme was held on Saturday 26 April 2014 for children of the Mavela Ikhaya Project near Durban, organized by members of the GNRC in South Africa.

The one day workshop was organized by GNRC members, Saydoon Nisa Sayed and Uzzi Uthamaan Mpungose, who were trained on the Learning to Live Together Programme in Nairobi, Kenya in January 2014.

The facilitators brought together both rural and urban youth for a day of learning using games and recreational activities following Module 1 – Understanding Self and Others, from the Learning to Live Together manual. Other activities will be developed during the coming months to continue fostering children's sense of belonging and cooperation to transform their communities. 

Learning to Live Together workshops as means for creating a peaceful society: The Maldives Experience

The Democray House, an NGO from Maldives, shares with us how they have been using the Learning to Live Together (LTLT) programme from 2012, after being trained on the manual during a workshop in Coimbatore, India.

Since then Democracy House organized their first LTLT Workshop in May 2012, followed by other three workshops for a total of 127 participants during the last two years.

These kinds of initiatives are extremely important in contexts of political divide and where youth civic engagement and participation are difficult due to the community’s negative perception of young people. Almost half of the Maldivian population is under the age of 25; the LTLT workshops are a means of raising awareness among youth and empowering them to play an important role in creating a peaceful and conscious society.
Stories from the field
Learning to Live Together Community of Practice - GNRC El Salvador

Stories from the field brings the voice of Lorena López Cortez, Coordinator of the newly created Community of Practice of the Learning to Live Together, in charge of its follow up, monitoring and evaluation. 

The Community of Practice was created after the Ethics Education Training Workshop held in Ayagualo, El Salvador in January 2014.  Nine focal groups formed by GNRC member organizations, working with children and youth, were created to implement the Learning to Live Together (LTLT) programme systematically in their communities for a period of nine months.  Since then the groups meet every month to share their experiences, provide and receive feedback, gain further knowledge on ethics education, and hone their facilitation skills to implement their programs. 

The GNRC organizations that are implementing the LTLT are religious institutions, child-focused NGOs and schools. Their work, committment and passion is truly an example for other organizations and individuals implementing the LTLT around the world. Lorena shares with us her insights on the program, their learning, challenges and ways forward. 

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  Did you know?

The Learning to Live Together manual in Romanian will be launched on 16 June at the Romanian Cultural Institute in Bucharest. The launch is being organized by Solmentis Fundatia in collaboration with the Romanian National Commission for UNESCO and Arigatou International Geneva.  

More than 100 guests, including representatives of the National Ministry of Education, United Nations Agencies, NGOs, schools and religious institutions will participate in the launch.   

Click here to download the manual in Romanian.
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  Forthcoming events

Building a culture of peace in the family and at school Workshop in Salvador-Bahia, Brazil
From 4 to 8 June 35 participants from different religious and cultural backgrounds and working in formal and non-formal education will participate in an ethics education workshop organised by GNRC Brazil to promote a culture of peace in the family and in schools.

Learning to Live Together Facilitator Training Workshop in Coimbatore, India
From 27 to 30 June 40 youth leaders, teachers and NGO staff from India will be trained on how to use the Learning to Live Together Programme to be adapted in their work with children and families.  This workshop will take place in the framework of the Community Solutions Exchange Programme and Families and Ethics Education programs led by Shanti Ashram. 

GNRC Learning to Live Together Workshop in Conception, Chile.
From 14 to 18 July a second workshop on the use of the Learning to Live Together Programme will be held in Conception, Chile. The workshop, that aims to implement LTLT in school settings, will be addressed mainly to teachers and members of GNRC institutions and NGOs working with children and youth.

South East Asia Regional Learning to Live Together Facilitator Training in Bangkok, Thailand
From 2 to 5 August 30 participants working in formal and non-formal education from Bhutan, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Philippines and Thailand will be trained on the use of the Learning to Live Together Programme to be implemented within their institutional programmes to support violence prevention, intercultural and interfaith cooperation and social transformation. 

GNRC Learning to Live Together Facilitator Training Workshop in Port Louis, Mauritius
From 12 - 15 August 30 participants, including religious leaders, NGO staff and educators from Mauritius will be trained to use the Learning to Live Together to promote mutual understanding and respect in schools and the community. 
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  Learning to Play Together - Using sports and games to promote mutual understanding and respect

A new booklet on the series of Good Practices on the implementation of the Learning to Live Together Programme was developed.  The booklet titled Learning to Play Together showcases the adaptation and use of the programme in physical education in a multicultural school in Athens.  The Learning to Play Together programme was developed in Greece in 2011 by Dr Angeliki Aroni, one of the LTLT Arigatou International trainers.

Learning to Play Together has been implemented with fifth-grade students from the Elementary School of Intercultural Education in Faliro, Athens, Greece from November 2012 to May 2013 two hours per week during the “Flexible hours” zone using physical education.  Learning to Play Together provides alternatives to the often use of competitive games and sports in physical education and helps to promote mutual understanding and respect among youth living in multicultural societies.

The booklet describes the importance of intercultural education in Greece, the use and importance of physical education, and how the Learning to Live Together Programme was adapted and implemented.  It describes the activities and methodologies used with children, provides an assessment of the program, the learning gained by participants and recommendations for implementation in other settings. 

Stay tuned for the the official launch in July!
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  Voices of Children and Youth

"I feel that the best part about this workshop was that we actually did learn how to live together. The group of people who went there was literally living together; even though it was for a few days, we learned how to function as a group. We had a lot of fun during our free times and everything worked out really well for everyone. It wasn’t just a workshop where we talked about the problems, but it was an experience. All the facilitators were exceptionally nice and they blended well with us. It felt like they were one of us even though they were leaders.

Participant from Learning to Live Together Workshop in the Maldives, Democracy House

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  Arigatou International Geneva welcome Ms. Fabiana Gugliotta

The Arigatou International Geneva office welcomes Ms. Fabiana Gugliotta, our new Administrative Assistant. Ms. Gugliotta is in charge of providing administrative support to the office, supporting communication strategies and child rights advocacy work at the United Nations and with other child-rights NGOs. 

Click here to read her complete profile.
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