Our meetings bring together individuals from different backgrounds, faith traditions and worldviews. we do apply formal discipline, yet we encourage all participants to connect with their inner world and thereby experience the inter-relatedness and interdependence of all human beings and of all life in the world. In this way, we are can show and reflect on how spirituality and religion may have an impact on human values as well as our assumptions that underpin science, morality and economics.
Today we join hands with millions of students, teachers and many others in celebrating the International Day of Education! We are reminded of the critical role of ethics education in contributing to the holistic well-being of children, global citizenship and building peaceful and inclusive societies.
Ethics education promotes intercultural and interreligious learning, dialogue and collaboration and affirms the importance of nurturing core human values and children’s spiritual development.
This unique approach to education helps strengthen children’s humanity, connect them with their cultural and religious rootedness, cultivate critical thinking, and foster awareness, attitudes, and capacity to appreciate life and to collaborate with people of other cultures, religions and beliefs.
Ethics education is built around the common value-pillars such as solidarity and human fraternity, which empower children to embrace their individual and collective responsibilities in an interconnected world.
On this day as we celebrate the power of education, we invite ministries of education and policy-makers to prioritise curriculum activities and pedagogical approaches that cultivate ethical values, intercultural and interfaith learning, dialogue and collaboration.
On this day as we cherish the value of education, we invite all educational organisations, formal, informal and non-formal to join us in advancing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, particularly Goal 4.7 which includes “ensuring education for the promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity.”
We also invite teachers, educators, faith communities, and all those working with children to renew their commitment to integrating ethics education in their programs with children, as a contribution to building a better world for and with children.
In peace, GHFP, a partner of the Ethics Education Fellowship Program
The G20 Interfaith Forum’s (IF20) purpose is to help shape global agendas through practical and ethical experience and wisdom of the world’s diverse religious communities, which are often absent from global forums. The extensive contributions of the “network of networks” as well as the prophetic voice and leadership of renowned religious leaders can enrich the G20 deliberations and contribute, alongside parallel and often interlinked constituencies (civil society, youth, business, etc.) to addressing the urgent problems facing world leaders.
The IF20 2022 theme is “Engaging Faith Communities” and their leaders and other actors, including academic, governmental, civil society, and other experts, in considering G20 Agendas in 2023 and beyond, including identifying priorities. specific plans and practical solutions to enrich and support G20 processes.
Prof Scherto Gill participated actively in IF20 2022 Summit, including contributing as a panellist to the Breakout Session on Antiracism and Collective Healing on 11th December, and as a moderator for the Breakout Session on Education on 12th December.
The GHFP and Fetzer Institute also co-sponsored the development of an educational policy brief which makes practical recommendations for the consideration of G20 leaders. The experts attending the IF20 2022 Summit affirmed educational priorities identified by the GHFP researchers, including: (1) holistic well-being as a core aim of education, (2) ethics education to underlie all curriculum contents, and (3) innovative pedagogy through teachers’ professional development. The IF20 Summit participants also stressed the importance of faith communities’ support to developing an educational ecosystem.
In 2023, the GHFP will host a series of consultations with different stakeholders, including politicians, educators, faith leaders, children and young people, and others, in order to listen inclusively to the diverse feedback and engage wider voices in policymaking.
The Creating a Culture of Encounter is a GHFP partnership initiative in collaboration with Aga Khan International, Arigatou International, European Wergeland Centre, and Scholas Occurrentes.
The one-year pilotbegan in September 2021. The main objectives were to bring together European nationals, and migrant and refugee youths living in Europe, through a culture of encounter to promote mutual understanding, foster inclusion and solidarity, and support young people to engage as active citizens through collective actions.
The project emerged in response to concerns identified by project partners around the rise of discrimination and hate speech across Europe. By creating shared spaces for young people to further develop their knowledge, attitudes and skills, and to actively question and transform narratives of discrimination and hate, the Project aims contribute to peacefulness in Europe and prevention of violence. Project activities aimed to equip youth with the competencies to be ‘agents of transformation’ in their communities, by influencing and training others, multiplying the reach of this initiative to a wider community of young people through positive social actions and campaigns.
As a Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) partner, from September 2021 to July 2022, the GHFP conducted an evaluation of the pilot to draw out initial findings from the project activities. The purpose of the evaluation was to investigate progress against the intended aims and identify key outcomes of the project.
The MEL took a mixed-methods approach informed by quantitative and qualitative data from activity monitoring, youth baseline, teacher questionnaire and focus groups with young people and teachers.
Across three youth hubs in Spain, Portugal and Italy, 72 young people were engaged through citizenship and intercultural learning encounters and 48 teachers received training in intercultural and interfaith dialogue processes. Each hub successfully recruited youth from across several schools and localities that provided a broad range of participant backgrounds. Due to organisational constraints and covid-19 restrictions the programme did not engage as widely with refugee and migrant communities as intended; in future iterations, a greater focus on identifying relevant settings in advance and ensuring uptake would be advantageous.
Project partners collaborated to identify three key types of activity of the pilot project:
Educator workshops aimed at strengthening the capacity of teachers and equipping them with intercultural and interfaith dialogue skills to work with youth on issues of discrimination and violence to foster inclusion and pluralism.
Youth workshops for young people aged 16-18 years old in Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Spain, through both online and in-person participatory workshops intended to provide opportunities for youth to experience active citizenship and learn to integrate intercultural and interfaith dialogue for creating a culture of encounter in their communities.
Youth-led projects facilitated in schools and communities to advance new narratives of mutual understanding, belongingness and respect, including a youth-led social media campaign to mobilise a wider network of young people in Europe, raise awareness, share their experiences, and influence positive change.
Teachers and young people reported a high level of need for and desire for spaces to examine issues of identity, discrimination, and inclusion. Learners valued the culture of encounter as a safe space for them to learn about themselves, get to know each other and consider their contribution to building more inclusive communities.
Learners most appreciated the participatory nature of activities and how they were encouraged to share their own thoughts and ideas.
The model of teachers participating and interacting equally with young people proved transformative for both teachers and youth.
Storytelling and mural activities were also effective for opening up discussion with young people. Young people reported an increased confidence and openness to express themselves and that activities had reduced inhibitions when engaging in group situations.
The programme had clear benefits on improving participants’ awareness and experience of active citizenship. The programme supported young people to recognise themselves as agents of inclusion, recognise commonalities and gain new perspectives. Young people felt that they had increased understanding and awareness of prejudice and discrimination, and increased confidence in combating discrimination and exclusion.
All young people interviewed during focus groups recognised the importance of youth as agents of change, felt more confident that they could make a positive difference and had been motivated to take a more active role in their communities. The project has had a positive impact on social interactions of young people in both the classroom and beyond, with examples of youth-led initiatives being disseminated in their schools and communities.
‘I have learned that, at least in my experience, between different people there are more similarities than differences, and that, different tastes aside, we work better together.’ — Young person from Greece
Teachers were highly impressed by the training and ability of facilitators to develop a strong level of openness and encounter with youth. Teachers appreciated learning about new innovative and participatory tools to engage students, recognising the value of these as helpful launching off points to introduce difficult topics around identity and exclusion. Teachers were inspired to take a more learner-centred participatory approach to citizenship education and prioritise youth encounters in future. Teachers valued having the space to hear and exchange ideas around inclusion and identity from colleagues in different schools and across different subject areas. They reported that they were likely to apply the learning in the classroom and were inspired to support youth-led change. As a result of the project, teachers were committed to supporting youth-led projects and had an overall sense of pride around the potential of young people and the sense of empowerment unleashed amongst learners.
‘This way of understanding education is encouraging many teachers to open the windows of our schools, weave networks and multiply the spaces for play, art and critical reflection because we have seen the transformative force they contain.’ — Teacher, Spain
Despite the positive experiences in creating a culture of encounter across participating settings, teachers noted that COVID-19 impacted project delivery and the practicalities of delivering face to face workshops led to delays and complications. The use of online spaces for youth engagement was also limited and could be further utilised in future programming through better understanding of how youth can best make use of these platforms.
An added value of the partnership model has been the sharing and cross fertilization of youth pedagogies across the delivery partners with youth hubs, this has led to rich and diverse workshops and an ever evolving and responsive programme.
The three youth hubs continue to be engaged in the project as they continue to roll-out youth initiatives. Funding is being sort for the next stage of the Culture of Encounter project which will build upon the successes of the first-year pilot in 2023.
On 13th October, educational thinkers, practitioners and policymakers gathered together online to discuss the challenges of the current assessment paradigm, and explored the potentials of an innovative orientation to education, one that places the process of relating at the centre of learning and well-being!
Many believe that the building blocks for realising the potentials of a relation-centred education are largely in place. However, the major obstacle to its advancement remains the defective, testing-based approach to assessment. Hence, amplifying the voice of students and teachers, in this webinar, we presented an energising array of evaluative practices that nourish the potentials of relating while providing a wealth of resources for continued learning, and for enriching students’ (and teachers’) well-being.
We have deliberately chosen the term ‘evaluation’ as opposed to other terms such as ‘assessment’, ‘measurement’ or ‘appraisal’. This is because these latter ones tend to carry strong connotations of objective judgement, and imply that learning is best observed and improved through quality control, carried out by an external authority.
By contrast, ‘evaluation’ is about valuing, strengthening, empowering. In the context of education, it is about appreciating the values in the activities and experiences of teaching and learning. In so doing, evaluation can replace the emphasis on student deficiency with a focus on the potentialities, possibilities and opportunities for well-being and well-becoming. Valuing helps affirm students’ equal intrinsic value as persons, and support the emergence of their strengths.
The contributors to the Webinar concluded that the world of education is in desperate need of political will as to re-focus educational aims and processes, away from passing exams and achieving grades; away from preparing students to be used as part of the economy engine, but instead, to refocus education on making schools high-quality inclusive & caring environments fit for our children and young people’s learning and well-being.
In November 2022, the GHFP and other partners, including Arigatou International and Kaiciid co-convened the Ethics Education Fellowship Programme’s first capacity-building session in Yogyakarta, hosted by Indonesian Ministry of Education.
More than 30 Fellows from the Ministries of Education of Bangladesh, Indonesia, Kenya, Mauritius, Nepal and Seychelles participated in the capacity-building, including workshops on facilitating intercultural and interreligious dialogue, transformative pedagogy, and collaborative approaches to monitoring-evaluation-learning (MEL).
Fellows were enthusiastic about the relational conception of ethics education and the innovative pedagogical practices introduced. They also realised that the ways to evaluate the fruit of teaching and learning cannot be separated from the processes of engaging in teaching and learning.
More importantly, the Fellows recognised that when fully integrated in public education, ethics education can provide the space for learners to foster the qualities, capacities and competencies necessary for them to relateethically with self, others and the world. Through interreligious, intercultural and interworldview learning processes, children internalise the relational principles of dialogue, and develop the knowledge, attitudes and skills to flourish in a plural world.
“Young people are on the frontlines of the struggle to build a better future for all.” — António Guterres, UN Secretary-General
“Children will never accept a return to ‘normal’ after the pandemic because ‘normal’ was never good enough.” — Henrietta H. Fore, Executive Director of UNICEF
In 2021, through a Global Listening Initiative, the G20 Interfaith Forum Education Working Group partners brought forward voices of worldwide children and young people in the following policy statement. It highlights five practical implementable actions as follows:
SAFEGUARD HEALING AND WELL- BEING AS A CORNERSTONE OF EDUCATION Education is essential not only to healing the trauma of COVID- 19, but also addressing the pre- existing epidemic of youth mental and emotional illbeing. Faith- sensitive conceptions and practices of healing and well- being should be considered to enrich educational effort to this end. This is a significant step that all G20 countries can take for education, guided by a common objective of nurturing students’ holistic well- being through education.
ENGAGE YOUTH IN EDUCATIONAL DECISION- MAKING Youth have a significant part to play in educational decisions that directly affect their learning, well- being, and present and future lives. Therefore, all young people, including girls and youth from minority and vulnerable backgrounds, must be respected and engaged as actors, innovators, co- creators, partners, and advocates for transforming education. G20 leaders should consider faith communities as key partners for education in this regard as many have provided meaningful support in terms of youth engagement.
ENSURE ALL LEARNERS’ EQUITABLE AND CONSISTENT ACCESS TO QUALITY EDUCATION To improve learners’ equitable experience of, and equal access to, good quality education requires a commitment to making digital technological infrastructures available in homes, schools, and communities. Broad G20 political partnerships and public and private investments in educational resources are key to educational inclusion.
EMBED ECOLOGICAL AND GLOBAL CONCERNS IN CURRICULA AGENDA The world increasingly recognises the interdependence of human well- being and ecological flourishing, a spiritual understanding long advocated by global faith communities. Education can contribute significantly to young people’s deepened awareness of the need to decentralise human self- interest, and to recentre human responsibility for regenerating our ecological environment. With the support of faith-based partners, curricula agendas must be reformed to include and promote environmental education and direct experiences in/of nature, along with a deeper understanding of SDGs and the skills to support them.
PRIORITISE TEACHERS’ WELL- BEING AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT AND STRENGTHENTHEIR CAPACITIES TO FACILITATE BLENDED LEARNING Teachers’ well- being and continued professional development is essential to high quality education. With the strong possibility of future pandemics on the horizon, cultivating teachers’ capacities to facilitate student learning and well- being through online and blended media has become a key priority. Online CPD platforms and creative resources across G20 partnerships can serve to support the sharing of innovative practices and enable mutual learning. Faith- inspired conceptions of education and well- being can help strengthen teachers’ connection with the noble vocation.
To understand how education can contribute to the above challenges, the IF20 Education Working Group partners launched a Global Listening Initiative (GLI). The aim of the GLI was two-fold: (1) to ground policy inquiry in existing global proposals, (2) to understand the lived experiences of children and young people in diverse contexts and engage them in identifying actions for educational transformation.
The GLI consisted in two parts: an extended Desk Review to listen to the widespread calls to action from diverse international organisations, global educational commissions, religious communities, grassroots movement and scholars; and a global consultation to listen to young people and engage with their perspectives. Over two thousand adolescents (aged 14-19) from 26 countries across five continents took part in online and/or in-person workshops hosted by NGOs, schools, and faith-based organisations. Adolescents from diverse backgrounds were invited to reflect on their experiences of life and education during the Covid-19 pandemic; identify who and what have been most supportive to their learning and well-being; and propose educational policy priorities that can explicitly support their healing, learning and flourishing. Participants’ insights were drawn out through a deep listening and dialogic process, and immersive data analysis, bringing together themes arising from structured and unstructured facilitators’ and youth’s reports, images, drawings, and quotes from participants. Both processes have yielded rich understandings of the potentials to work purposefully through education programmes as ways to advocate for and advance equity, inclusion, and well-being. Conceptions of healing and well-being rooted in faith, indigenous and other spiritual traditions played an important part in guiding the GLI’s reflection.
Young people from India, Lebanon and UK representing the voices of global adolescents and shared their experiences of education and insights from the Global Listening Initiative in the following dialogue.
Through listening, dialogue and inquiry, the G20 Interfaith Forum Education Working Group was able to bring children and young people’s voices forward through an educational policy brief, presented at IF20 Summit held in Bologna, September, 2021.
We are pleased to announce the online global symposium TRANSFORMING EDUCATION: Ethics Education for Learning to Live Together, which will take place on 22-23 November 2021. We invite educators, policymakers, faith-based and civil society organizations, and other stakeholders to join us to reflect, collaborate and prompt action to transform education together!
The G20 Interfaith Forum (IF20) offers an annual platform for religious, faith and interfaith organisations communities to constructively engage with the agendas set by the G20 leaders. For 2021, the G20’s agenda focuses on People Planet Prosperity, and the IF20 dedicates its reflection and dialogue on the theme of A Time to Heal.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated inequalities in worldwide educational systems. In particular, during the mass school closures, and the attempted shifts to hybrid modes of learning, significant inadequacies and drastic global disparities in students’ access to quality education have been brought to light. Alongside these concerns is recognition of sufferings (material, physical, social-emotional, mental, spiritual) endured by children and young people throughout the lockdowns and a striking gap in the provisions of online learning facilities and resources between higher and lower income countries. All these have further aggravated an existing epidemic of youth ill-being, not least amongst those who are already at the margins.
IF20 Education Policy Brief and Priorities Proposed by Global Adolescents
In the light of policy priorities outlined by G20 leaders, and the emergent insights from the Global Listening Initiativeprocesses, the IF20 Education Working Group partners support five key interconnected recommendations to address global challenges:
Safeguard healing and well-being as a cornerstone of education
Engage youth in educational decision-making
Ensure equitable and consistent access to quality education for all
Embed global and ecological concerns in curricula agenda
Prioritise teachers’ well-being and their capacities to facilitate blended learning
IF20 High-Level Dialogue on 28th September 2021
On 28th September, an IF20 high-level dialogue took place on Zoom, chaired by the IF20 Vice President, Professor Katherine Marshall. National politicians, interfaith leaders and international educational directors drew on their expertise and experiences and explored how these priorities and proposed action might be meaningfully integrated in relevant contexts. Most importantly, selected young people who took part in the Global Listening Initiative joined global leaders and shared their voices and their rationales for such policy priorities and subsequent action. This was regarded as a unique opportunity for global leaders to engage directly with young people in co-imagining and co-creating educational ecosystems that nurture both human well-being and the well-ness of nature.
Key Reflections from High-Level Leaders
All leaders who were present at the dialogue expressed their appreciation for the young people’s efforts, and fully endorsed the educational policy priorities emergent through the IF20Global Listening Initiative. It was recognised that the more foreboding our plenary emergencies, the more complex our global challenges, the greater the need for dialogue, listening, love, care and human fraternity. IF20 Educational Working Group partners cherished many ideas, advice and guidance provided by the global leaders. Pertinent to the young people’s interests include:
Healing and well-being through spirituality and education
Judge Mohammad Abdulsalam (Secretary General, High Committee for Human Fraternity) evokes the imperative of healing the past wounds and well-being through spirituality and education. The significance of spirituality through interreligious and interfaith learning in enabling the flowering of every child’s full potential is equally highlighted by Prof Anantanand Rambachan (Co-President, Religious for Peace). The spiritual vision of education is further echoed in Argentina National Deputy Victoria Morales Gorleri’s and Bhai Sahib Mohinder Singh’s (Chairman of Nishkam Group of Charity Organisations) reflection on humanity’s oneness and the role of spirituality in education in enriching and nourishing human fraternity and solidarity as the basis to confronting global challenges and ensure co-flourishing of all. Lord John Alderdice (UK House of Lords) draws on Shruthi’s (18, India) words about younger generations as the bearers of humanity’s dreams, and proposes that faith communities have a key part to play in supporting all children and youth. He also adds that this requires people of faith to listen deeply and learn to appreciate the gifts we bring to each other. Professor Italo Fiorin’s (Senior Advisor, Catholic Congregation of Education of the Holy See /Advisor, Italy National Ministry of Education) resonates with this wisdom of deep listening and shares the three key aspirations that His Holiness Pope Francis advocates through the University of Meaning: to listen, to create and to celebrate. Like Lord Alderdice, Professor Fiorin stresses that deep listening leads us to the pathways of mutual bonding, the discovery of life’s meanings, and the offering of the gifts of life to one another.
Innovative approaches to healing, well-being and educational transformation
Dr Pilvi Torsti (Finland State Secretary) encourages more attention to be paid to students’ engaging in co-curricular service programme as a way to connect learning with lives in the communities and empower young people to take responsibilities for a better world. Ms Mary Kangethe (Director, Kenya National Commission for UNESCO) emphasises that education must be relevant to the challenges confronting our local and global communities, such as SDGs, and climate change, through project-based learning, and teacher leadership. João Costa (Portugal Deputy Minister of Education) suggests that nurturing key competencies, building inclusive learning environments, and promoting citizenship education be key focus. Ella (18, UK) points to the need for self-inquiry to cultivate our unfolding self and regards inner journey of self-discovery to be interdependent to learning to live and contribute to a life of co-flourishing. Raihana (14, Indonesia) reminds us of the critical importance of hybrid approaches to cultivating listening, empathy, collaboration and dialogue, termed as ‘soft’ and social emotional skills. Alun (14, Indonesia) adds that integrating ethical ways of learning, being and acting are central to students’ learning and holistic well-being.
Global ecosystem for education
Dr Dominic Richardson (Chief, Social and Economic Policy, UNICEF Innocenti Centre) urges us to review and renew educational assessment/evaluation, curricula contents, teachers’ professional development, and community engagement so as to instil spiritually inspired global ecosystem for education, supported by research. Developing and monitoring a global exchange platform that keeps track of worldwide innovative practices. Ahmed Aljarwan (President, Global Council for Tolerance and Peace) advocates teachers professional development spaces for mutual learning. Young people point out that youth leadership capacities must be at the core of global transformation. Leadership should be rooted in a spiritual vision, nurtured by interreligious and interfaith education and dialogue.
The power of deep listening and dialogue
Both high-level leaders and the young people present at the dialogue were profoundly inspired by the power of deep listening and deep dialogue. They suggest that it allows us to dwell in where human spirits reside, within us, in our encounters with others, and in our being-with each other, and with all things in nature, and the transcendent. Young people feel that deep listening from high-level leaders provides them with an experience of being valued, cared, ‘received’, accepted. Deep dialogue helps open ourselves to difference, e.g. faith, power, class, and age difference, and enables us to share life experiences, concerns and aspirations. Together, deep listening and dialogue contribute to healing past wounds, and the emergence of a co-creative, co-constructive, relational present and future.
Ella (18, UK) says: “I want to leave with a paradigm of hope. This dialogue affirms the oneness of our being, as in Ubuntu and the mantra ‘soham’, and that we are because of each other, including our non-human friends, and our structures. We create and we have the power to change through this awareness of our oneness, love and peace.”
Roy (16, Lebanon) says: “After everything we have been through in Lebanon, everyone nearly lost hope in education… However, this dialogue has restored my faith and showed that global leaders do care about children and young people, and are willing to work together and support a better education for us and for future generations.”
Sushmitha (18, India) says: “I am thankful for you all, creating such safe space for us and listening to us. My hope is that we don’t go back to pre-pandemic ways of education. The only justice is to build forward differently, ensure that this new education system as we have imagined together will empower young people to thrive collectively.”
This high-level dialogue has helped consolidate the IF20 Education Working Group partners’ commitments to two major global initiatives: (1) Supporting teachers’ learning and professional development; (2) Nurturing youth leadership and transformative competencies. High-level leaders and young people in this dialogue have stressed that both initiatives are spiritual endeavours and require active engagement of global religious and faith communities.
If relational process is the overarching connection that unites emergent approaches to governance, thus opening new vistas of theory and practice, further exploration is vital. To this end, the GHFP Research Institute invites scholars and practitioners whose work centrally bears on these issues to explore the implications and potentials of relational process in governance.
What does a relational orientation offer for the future development of governance, from the local, regional, to the national, international and trans-national level?
Bearing on issues in governance, are there significant differences among theories of relational process, with implications for governance?
What particular practices of relating might be recognized as positive contributions to governance? How can we best understand their functioning? How might governance be enriched by practices of relating?
What are the major impediments to effective relational process? How are they overcome?
With relational process as a centre-piece, how are we to conceive of leadership? What practices would be invited?