As part of the 10th-anniversary celebrations of the Learning to Live Together Programme, Arigatou International – Geneva organized a series of seminars in Bosnia and, Herzegovina, Colombia, Israel, and Sri Lanka to foster reflections about the critical need for learning to live together in contemporary societies and amidst violence, discrimination, populism and violent ideologies.
The first seminar took place in Colombo, Sri Lanka in February 2018 with the participation of the Ministry of Education, religious leaders, civil society organizations, and educationalists.
In his introductory remarks, Dr. Vinya Ariyaratne, General Secretary of Sarvodaya Movement highlighted the need for Learning to Live Together in the current Sri Lankan context. The panel, composed of Ven. Galkande Dhammananda, Chairperson, Walpola Rahula Institute; Rt. Rev. Duleep de Chickera, Former Anglican Bishop of Colombo; Mr. S. Muralitharan, Director Peace Education, and Reconciliation (PERU), Ministry of Education; Dr. Sunil Wijesiriwardena, Education, and Conflict Transformation Expert; and Ms. Maria Lucia Uribe, Director, Arigatou International – Geneva, reflected on the challenges and opportunities to further Learning to Live Together in Sri Lanka through the education system.
They discussed the local context of post-armed conflict and the need for reconciliation and inter-ethnic and inter-faith learning. They also mentioned the need for strengthening the teachers’ capacity to meaningfully address these sensitivities and broader educational reforms to foster national unity and coexistence.
In August, Arigatou International – Geneva and the GNRC – Colombia organized a celebratory event in Bogotá, attended by representatives of different religious organizations, government institutions, and civil society organizations.
Ms. Maria Lucia Uribe, Director of Arigatou International – Geneva, presented the Ethics Education initiative and the Learning to Live Together Programme’s achievements in different parts of the world. After contributions from representatives of the Muslim Community and University Santo Tomas, a panel discussion took place to share experiences of implementation in Colombia and El Salvador, as well as reflect on the need for programs based on Learning to Live Together in light of the current post-agreement situation in the country, and the need to foster,in children and youth,a capacity to appreciate and respect diversity,and learn to live and work collaboratively with others.
The panel was composed by Ms. Amada Benavides, President of Fundación Escuelas de Paz and expert on peace education; Mr. Larry Madrigal, Deputy Director of Centro Bartolomé de Las Casas in El Salvador and senior trainer of the Learning to Live Together Programme, Ms. Sara Ariza, youth representative and member of the GNRC, and Ms. Olga Lucia Sierra Santos, GNRC member, Buddhist representative and trainer of the Learning to Live Together Programme.
Wahat al-Salam/Neve Shalom, the Oasis for Peace, served as the venue for a roundtable discussion on the Importance of Education to Foster Learning to Live Together as part of the 10th Anniversary celebrations in Israel.
The celebratory event, which was held in August, was open by Ms. Dorit Shippin from Wahat al-Salam – Neve Shalom, who was the first Coordinator of the GNRC in Israel and contributed together with others to the development of ‘Massa-Massar: The Journey,’a program of encounter and discovery for Christian, Jewish and Muslim youth living in Israel, where participants learn about each other’s cultures, faiths, and histories, to seek common ground and shared values for mutual understanding, and learn to respect differences.
An enriching dialogue on how education and schools can provide avenues for challenging divisions, polarization and segregation and respond to ethical challenges in society was held among Ms. Samah Salami, Chair of the Education Association of Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam; Ms. Bissan Salman, Embassy of Japan in Israel, and former participant of the Learning to Live Together Programme; Dr. Sara Bernstein Executive Director, Rossing Center; and Mr. Eitan Cooper, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, The Schechter Institutes.
The meeting was closed by Ms. Dalia Landau from the Open House, member of the GNRC.
Later, in October, our last celebratory event was organized in Bosnia and Herzegovina in collaboration with the local GNRC, gathering 67 representatives of different religious organizations and civil society organizations, educators and students.
After Ms. Vera Leal, Senior Ethics Education Program Officer, Arigatou International – Geneva presented the Ethics Education initiative and the Learning to Live Together Programme, a panel discussion was held to share and reflect on the need for programs based on Learning to Live Together in light of the education divides in a post-conflict society and the need to foster in children and youth their capacity to appreciate and respect diversity and learn to live and work collaboratively with others. The panel included Professor Efedina Čehajić, Pedagogue and implementer of the LTLT Programme and GNRC member, Dr. Velic Abdulgafar, Vice – Mufti of Sarajevo and Coordinator of the Youth Network in the Muslim Community in Sarajevo and of the Priest and Prof. of Philosophy at the Faculty of Theology in Sarajevo, Dr. Oliver Jurišić.
We thank our partners, collaborators and the participants for joining us in this celebration to commemorate these 10 years of trust and cooperation for the well-being of children. The fruitful conversations held at the different seminars could pave the way for many things to come regarding value-based education in the host countries and neighboring regions.