With a concrete action plan and the commitment of implementing it along 2020, concluded the second annual meeting of the International Consortium on Nurturing Values and Spirituality in Early Childhood for the Prevention of Violence.
The meeting, that brought together 26 people from 13 member organizations of the Consortium as well as individual advisors and guest speakers, took place in Geneva from 3 to 5 December 2019 and was organized by Arigatou International Geneva as convener of the Consortium.
The Consortium brings together civil society and faith-based organizations, religious communities, multilateral organizations, academia, and individual experts to foster collaboration, share good practices and develop evidence-based and innovative approaches to integrate values-based education and spirituality in early childhood for the prevention of violence and the holistic development of children.
During the three-day meeting, the Consortium members took stock of the progress made during 2019 and established an action plan to guide their actions in 2020.
Among the achievements of 2019 is the development of five national roundtable discussions that took place in Brazil, India, Kenya, Lebanon, and Sri Lanka and that brought together religious actors and local experts on early childhood, child protection and education, to dialogue on the critical need to nurture spirituality in children and to challenge social and cultural norms that condone violence in child upbringing.
Other results from 2019 include the initiation of a mapping exercise to identify practices that integrate spirituality and values in early childhood in the five mentioned countries, as well as the development of advocacy booklets to support faith communities, religious leaders, parents and caregivers to take action to support the spiritual development of young children, contributing to the creation of environments free of violence and upbringing practices that protect children’s dignity. These advocacy booklets are part of the commitment of the Consortium to develop materials to support holistic approaches to early childhood that contribute to the prevention of violence against children.
The consortium focuses on the children’s ethical and spiritual development through advocacy, research, the creation of tools, and replicable practices that support parents and caregivers in creating safe, healthy and loving environments that affirm children’s human dignity.
During their second annual meeting, the Consortium members had in-depth conversations on the intersections between early childhood, spirituality and the prevention of violence, the critical need to foster the spiritual development of the child as part of their holistic development and in accordance with their right to develop fully, as stated in Art. 27 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. They also discussed the impact of violence, fragility, conflicts, and displacement in early childhood and the role of faith communities.
Many thanks to all members and guest speakers who were part of the discussions, and to the World Council of Churches for hosting the meeting.