Ethics Education Newsletter - December 2014

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Ethics Education for Children

Enhancing children's innate ability to make positive contributions

Issue Nº 6 - December 2014  
Dear friends,

Greetings from Arigatou International Geneva and welcome to the December edition of the Ethics Education Newsletter.  

This has been a year of many learning opportunities, experiences and achievements in our work.  It has also been a year of many challenges for the world's children, affected by all types of violence, natural and man-made disasters.  It has been a year of listening, of sharing, of giving and receiving from the many partners we work with around the world.  
We have been listening to the stories of change, of challenges and opportunities from the children and youth who go through our programs, the facilitators who tirelessly work with us, and the institutions that share our vision for a better world for children.  We have been sharing ideas that we have gathered from the constant learning with our partners, for improvement of our training programs, and to ensure a proper monitoring and evaluation of the great work carried out by them in the field.  We have been giving and providing new trainings and resources, including the development of our new online platform and most recent online course for facilitators of the Learning to Live Together Programme.  We have developed, with the support of our trainers, new booklets, resources and materials, and have disseminated them in new countries and locations.  

Most importantly we have been receiving unwavering support from all corners of the world through interest in our programs with children and families, commitment to bring the Learning to Live Together to new areas of work, implementation with children and youth and the work of many individuals who have worked with us during this year to make our work possible, and without whom, this year would not have been successful.  
During this year we have sown seeds in many areas in our ethics education work and we will continue watering and taking care of them during 2015 and reaping the harvest of an intense and fruitful year.  We invite you to continue working with us and to strengthen our collaborations to make 2015 a year where we have more positive stories to share, less violence against children to be concerned about, more awareness and commitment to put our children first, and more collaborations to work together to make it happen! 
Enjoy this edition that brings together several stories from the field, information about our work with child rights organizations in Geneva, the voices of youth and updates on the several programs that are taking place.

Wishing you Season's greetings and a blessed New Year on behalf of the Ethics Education for Children and Arigatou International Geneva team. 

In peace,
Maria Lucia Uribe
Director Arigatou International - Geneva

Inside this issue
By Assistant Prof. Dr. Parichart Suwanbubbha, Director, Institute of Human Rights and Peace Studies, Mahidol University

"It is interesting for me to realize the interconnectedness of the notions ‘ethics’ and ‘interfaith dialogue’; That is, both of them more or less are related to a word: relationships.

According to my understanding, I support the explanation on ‘ethics’ provided on the Learning to Live Together Manual of Arigatou International: “
how one chooses to relate to oneself, to others, and to earth, which sustains all life, is the primary manifestation of ethics and values”. It is the relationships with all those around us. On the other hand, interfaith dialogue is related to ‘deep listening’ in order to ‘learn, grow and change’ from the misunderstanding to the better understanding. Although one is still able to keep ones’ own position, it is expected that in the process of dialogue, one may touch the similar experiences of common humanity such as fear, anxiety, loneliness including search for happiness and avoidance of suffering. When one can touch and realize the similar destiny of our human beings, one may be able to transcend ‘otherness’ of others. That is to say, it is about ‘relationships’ between oneself and others.  As Sean Rose said, “it’s not about religion, it’s about relationships!”
Interfaith Council on Ethics Education for Children
Panel on Ethics Education: The Missing Piece in Interfaith Learning and Peace Building efforts held in New York 

Arigatou International Geneva in collaboration with Hartford Seminary held on 17 November in New York City a seminar on Ethics Education: The Missing Piece in Interfaith Learning and Peace Building efforts.

There is so much diversity in our world today; the potential for learning and collaboration around common issues of concern among peoples of different cultures and faiths is enormous; yet, we also live in a world that is increasingly in the grip of religious fundamentalism and extremism, negative stereotypes and fear of the other, violence and distrust; a world where children grow up without appreciation of the other. What is the role of education to contribute to learning to live together? 

The seminar included a panel with members of our Interfaith Council on Ethics Education and an introduction to the Learning to Live Together Programme.  The seminar was enriching with discussions about the challenges, opportunities, possibilities and complexities of this work, particularly in the United States context; as well as ways forward.  During the discussions participants shared issues of discrimination in the educational settings, and engaged in deep discussions about methodological approaches that can help brining appreciation, learning and respect of diversity to the classroom in meaningful ways.  They also shared challenges introducing interreligious education given the perception people have about religion and how ethics and ethics education provide an opportunity to learn about the other through sharing, commonalities, appreciation of diversity and working together, without being perceived as a threat to the identity of the other. 

Links between Ethics Education for Children and the World Day of Prayer and Action for Children were also established through examples of implementation of ethics education programs by members of the Global Network of Religions for Children.  Participants expressed their interest to continue in dialogue with Arigatou International, to receive training on the Learning to Live Together Programme, use it in their educational activities and connect it the work in their organizations.  Arigatou International Geneva will follow up on these new connections and interest and hope to continue in dialogue with partners in the United States. 

We thank all the participants, our Interfaith Council members, and colleagues from Arigatou International New York and GNRC for their support. 

Creating Safe and Inclusive Learning Environments for Children

Arigatou International Geneva launched in November its first online course on Creating Safe and Inclusive Learning Environments for Children.  The course is part of a series of online courses to complete the Advanced Facilitator Training of the Learning to Live Together Programme. 

The five-week course, equivalent to six credits of the Advanced Program, trained participants to acquire new knowledge, skills and tools on how to develop safe learning environments for children. During the course participants had the opportunity to discuss challenges they face and identify effective strategies to foster inclusive and participatory learning environments.  Participants reflected on the interconnections between the creation of safe learning environments, spiritual development of children and ethics education. Safe learning environments are a basic requirement, foundation, soil where spirituality and ethical reflections and behaviours can be nurtured. 

29 participants from Bhutan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ecuador, Greece, India, Indonesia, Japan/Thailand, Kenya, Mauritius, Montenegro, Nepal, Nigeria, Romania, Sweden, Uganda and Sri Lanka engaged for five weeks in discussions, reflections, sharing and interactive activities. The course was facilitated by Laura Molnar, official Trainer of the Learning to Live Together Programme, and Suchith Abeyewickreme, Program Coordinator for Arigatou International Geneva. A webinar with a special guest, Ilham Nasser, Member of the Interfaith Council on Ethics Education for Children also took place during the course. 

Participants shared that the course was a great opportunity for them to realize the critical importance of creating safe learning environments as a precondition to nurture values, critical thinking and spirituality in children, and expressed their satisfaction with the knowledge and skills they developed througout the course, particularly through the readings and the possibility to interact with Dr. Ilham Nasser.  Here are a few quotes from the participants:

¨When considering the way this online course has been put together, I can see each step in the learning process... This is another takeaway for me - to keep the learning process in mind while putting together any program.¨  Prabha from India

¨I got much better understanding about Safe learning environments that should cover all dimensions that must be considered in learning - physical , emotional, spiritual and cognitive developments. I also learned techniques to  create trust , genuine dialogue, crtical thinking and reflection.¨ Wati from Indonesia

"I have learnt specific skills for creating a safe environment especially when working with children right from focusing on the physical environment.emotion and interpersonal relation within the class." Mary from Kenya

" I gained new knowledge about importance of safe learning environment. Before this course I was aware about SLE and its importance in learning process, but know I know new techniques and how to use it in workshops and my work with children and youth. Lejla, Bosnia and Herzegovina

"Technology has revolutionized online education. My first online course was a highly instructive lesson and opened my eyes to the fact that ODL or E-learning is the future of education.  Being in the tertiary sector, this course has inspired me to do same in the institution I am currently working. Rajendrakumar from Mauritius
In focus
Learning to Live Together Implementation in El Salvador: Ethics Education in Vulnerable Contexts
From 31 October to 1 November, Arigatou International representatives had the opportunity to visit some of the nine ethics education implementation projects carried out by GNRC El Salvador.
Learning to Live Together is being implemented in El Salvador in a systematic and sustainable way with the collaboration of strategic partners, who have incorporated the content of the manual within different educational settings, as part of the Monitoring and Evaluation process led by Arigatou International Geneva.
Learning to Live Together Progress of Teacher Training in Greece 

On 15 November 2014, a second meeting for the planning and implementation of Learning to Live Together Programme took place in Athens, Greece.
The participants were made up of teachers from various grade levels (from Kindergarten to Elementary to High School and Lyceum). They discussed how the Learning to Live Together manual would be implemented according to the different school grades, ages and school settings.  As part of the meeting, teachers engaged in a “Visit to religious places” and a “Reflection session.” 
Learning to Live Together: cooperation and implementation in Indonesia 

Learning to Live Together (LTLT) was first introduced to Amalina Islamic School during a facilitator-training workshopconducted in Indonesia by GNRC South Asia and Arigatou International in partnership with UNESCO National Commission Indonesia in 2012 and with the support of Ms. Wati Wardani (participant in a regional LTLT workshop in Sri Lanka).

Pembangunan Jaya High School (PJ) was then invited as a partner school in implementing LTLT. The ongoing implementation of the LTLT is part of a memorandum of understanding between Arigatou International Geneva and the two schools.  Amalina International and Pembangunan Jaya High School representatives were trained as facilitators during the South East Asia Regional workshop held in Bangkok, Thailand in August 2014. 

Stories from the field

Learning to Live Together implementation in schools in Kenya: An interview with Mrs. Mary Wanjiru Kangethe

An interview was conducted with Mary Wanjiru Kangethe who is Assistant Director of Education in the Ministry of Education Science and Technology in Kenya. She spoke of the Ministry of Education and Science’s implementation of Learning to Live Together Programme in schools in Kenya, the aims and experiences.

The Learning to Live Together (LTLT) programme was introduced to the Ministry of Education Science and Technology Kenya through a basic training workshop held in January 2014 targeting actors in child development and protection in the public sector and the NGOs. In September 2014, twelve senior managers in the Ministry of Education Science and Technology were sensitized on LTLT. This was followed by a Training of Trainers workshop targeting technical officers from the Ministry and curriculum developers.   An intensive training of 25 teachers from Tana Delta Sub-County in Tana River County (where the programme would be piloted) was then conducted.

The pilot of the programme is currently ongoing and a follow-up training for school administrators and the 25 teachers is planned for January 2015.   
Read more in our archive section
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  Did you know?

Did you know that the NGO Working Group on Children and Violence of Child Rights Connect, convened by Arigatou International, prepared a video entitled "End Violence Against Children," to be used as a tool for advocacy on the importance to prevent, protect and address all forms of violence that affect children.

Progress to address violence against children has been made during the last years; yet many challenges remain and there is still much that needs to be done. Post-2015 provides us with a platform to work together to ensure that children live a life free from all forms of violence, are protected in conflicts and disasters and thrive in a safe family environment.

The official screening of the video took place in Geneva on 11 December in collaboration with the Permanent Mission of Algeria to the United Nations.

ACT NOW to End Violence Against Children

Click here to see the full video. 
Clike here to read more about the screening of the video.
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  The Timeless Relevance of Investing in the Well-Being of Children

A reflection piece on Children's Day written by Dr. Kezevino Aram -  Shanti Ashram and Chair of the Interfaith Council

"We owe our children-happiness, said Professor M.S.Swaminathan delivering the inaugural ‘India cares’ 2014 oration on the eve of Children’s Day. The call for happiness is relevant to all children and transcends beyond individual challenges and diverse life settings our children find themselves in. Everyone who has the opportunity to interact with a child can perhaps consider this call for bringing happiness to our youngest citizens.
Over two billion children form part of this global community today. The way we invest in their wellbeing will determine our collective future. Never before have we also had so much knowledge and resource in serving our children and so even more the fact sheet on India’s children speaks out to us …."
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  Forthcoming Events

Ethics Education Facilitator Training Workshops in Myanmar
In 2015 workshops will be held on 5-8 January in Mandalay and 10-13 January in Yangon. These workshops will bring educators from both formal and non-formal education sectors from different religious groups together.

The workshops build on the cooperation that Arigatou International Geneva has initiated with two local partners, the Mandalay based Phaung Daw Oo (PDO) High School and Yangon based Smile Education and Development Foundation (SEDF) and will be supported by the Dhamma School Foundation.

Myanmar has been facing long-standing conflicts between different ethnic groups over several decades now and has also has experienced instances of tension and violence between people of different faith communities. 
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  Past Events
Learning to Live Together Introductory Workshop in Colombia 
Peacebuilding and Ethics Education: Different but supplementary

This past October, Arigatou International Geneva office together with GNRC Colombia carried out an introductory workshop with 37 members of the Peace Builders Movement.  This workshop was held in the framework of the VI National Summit of the Peace Builders Movement, a participation process supported by World Vision Colombia, in which protagonists are children, adolescents, and youth leaders coming from vulnerable communities of 12 cities of the country. 

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  Voices of Children and Youth

Growing up with GNRC and Learning to Live Together

This time voices of children and youth features Matias Alejandro Flores Mejía from El Salvador. He talks about his experience with the GNRC in El Salvador with the Learning to Live Together Programme and how it helped him grow and understand more about himself.

"I was only 12 years old when I was first selected to participate in a workshop of GNRC. I have to confess that this being the first time I had no idea what I was doing there, and I think I was one of the youngest ones at the workshop. In that moment I did not know the magnitude or the significance of participating in such an event."
Click here to read more.
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