More than 900 educators, children and young people, policymakers, religious leaders, faith-based and civil society organizations, academic researchers, and multilateral agencies gathered online at the global symposium Transforming Education: Ethics Education for Learning to Live Together, which was held from 22 to 23 November 2021.
The Symposium provided a platform for various stakeholders including several Ministries of Education, to share experiences on ethics education programs and policies, and their contribution to peacebuilding and the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. Through a series of panel discussions and interactive workshops, participants learned from the experience, insights, and expertise of diverse partners working at national, regional, and global levels.
“Children and young people have taught us resilience, and they are also asking us to transform education to address the multiple ethical challenges our societies face and to help them prepare to be agents of change in building a better world,” stated Rev. Keishi Miyamoto, President of Arigatou International at the Opening Ceremony.
The discussions and workshops dwelled on the importance of recognizing the role of education in building safer, equitable, and inclusive societies. Education needs to support children’s sound and holistic development, not only cognitive and physical but also social, emotional, and spiritual. By nurturing in children ethical values, such as empathy, respect, and responsibility, and life skills such as critical thinking and the ability to solve their differences with others, children can learn to live together with people of different cultures, religions, and beliefs.
Participants explored how ethics education can empower children to become global citizens and work together to build peaceful societies.
The Transforming Education symposium was organized by Arigatou International – Geneva, the Guerrand-Hermès Foundation for Peace, the Higher Committee for Human Fraternity, ICESCO – Islamic World Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, KAICIID International Dialogue Centre, the Kenya National Commission for UNESCO, the Ministry of Education of Kenya, Religions for Peace, Scholas Occurrentes, the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, and UNICEF, with the support of UNESCO.
The two days event was streamed in Arabic, English, French and Spanish, reaching participants from 80 different nationalities. More than 50 organizations were actively involved in the event, including faith-based and civil society organizations, multilateral agencies and 11 Government offices.
Judge Mohamed Abdelsalam, Secretary General, Higher Committee for Human Fraternity
To enhance children’s meaningful participation, an intergenerational dialogue between children, young people and adults was held on the second day, inviting reflections on how ethics education can help children learn to live together. Children shared their own recommendations about the role of education in enhancing opportunities for their participation and helping them to be part of the solutions to the problems in their communities.
“A school is a place where children grow and develop together with others and therefore it has a very important role in helping children learn about this diversity and appreciate their differences.” Sophia, a child from Indonesia.
This inter-generational session was preceded by a dialogue between more than 40 children from 10 different countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East. The session aimed to reflect on how ethics education can help us to learn to live together. During the two-hour session, children had the opportunity to share ideas on how they imagine ethics education. The dialogue ended with the children putting together a manifesto with their recommendations which was shared during the Symposium.
Also, out of the 90 speakers that took the floor during the Symposium, 17 were children. This provided children with a space for safe and meaningful participation and gave participants the unique opportunity to hear children’s recommendations first-hand and to engage with them in dialogue.
Policy Brief: Advancing Ethics Education for Children to Contribute to the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda
A critical result of the reflections and dialogues held during the Symposium was the identification of the key benefits of integrating ethics education into national policies and programs. The organizers developed a policy brief with concrete recommendations and programmatic actions on integrating ethics education as a core tenet of equal and inclusive education for children.
The policy brief Advancing Ethics Education for Children to Contribute to the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, outlines the importance of prioritizing and investing in ethics education in formal and non-formal education systems, to contribute to building more inclusive, respectful, and resilient societies, where children are equipped to respond to ethical challenges and become active citizens.
Ms. Paloma Escudero, Director, Division of Global Communication and Advocacy, UNICEF
As part of the Symposium, a call was open for organizations to share resources, programs, or research papers on ethics education for children, through Digital Products.
The best educational resources and programs to create safe and empowering spaces for children to learn to live together were selected and featured on the Transforming Education website. The selection includes global programs and resources as well as local ones coming from Austria, Bolivia, El Salvador, Kenya, Lebanon, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Launch of the Ethics Education Fellowship Program
One of the main outcomes of the symposium is the launch of the Ethics Education Fellowship Program for ministries of education to build a network of formal education institutions and create a platform for sharing and building capacity within the ministries.
Fellowship Program aims to strengthen capacity on ethics education in formal settings as a key contribution to developing national programs that foster learning to live together, and to promote a sustainable continuation and expansion of ethics education activities in the participating countries.
The Fellowship Program is a collaboration between Arigatou International, KAICIID Dialogue Centre, the Higher Committee for Human Fraternity, Guerrand-Hermes Foundation for Peace, Kenya National Commission for UNESCO and UNESCO Office for Eastern Africa. It will be formally announced in the first semester of 2022. A meeting with partners will take place in Geneva on 7-8 March 2022.
We thank our distinguished partners for believing in this project and joining us in the organization of the Symposium. Our sincere gratitude goes to the speakers and facilitators of the workshops who selflessly gave their time and shared their knowledge during each session. We also thank all the participants for their enthusiasm, and particularly children, for trusting us with their genuine thoughts, ideas, and recommendations.