Human-centred education aims at the development of the whole person and enabling the expression of full human potential through educational processes and practices. human-centred education can be characterized as an holistic approach to curriculum and assessment, flowing from human relations between teachers, students, parents and other members of the community, and is achieved through addressing the unity of human experience as a whole, within a stimulating human environment in the school classroom, playground, community and beyond. practice concerns itself with the development of personal qualities and dispositions such as curiosity, caring for others and inner integrity to actively engage and empower learners to shape rich, meaningful and flourishing experiences at school and in adult life and learning.
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.
On Sunday the 15th August, the Project Hijas de la Paz was inaugurated in Amanecer, Colombia, with a ceremony that included the local Mayor and other local dignitaries and the chairperson of Subud Colombia.
45 young women took part in a four-month residential programme, most of who are from indigenous and Afro-communities who are living in terrible conditions of poverty and violence. 11 children who came with the young women joined Amanecer Kindergarten and received International Child Development Project (ICDP) support.
The entire community was involved and provided 900 hours of training and formation. There were 16 tutors on the Programme (academic, personal, entrepreneurial, cooking, gardening), and 10 of them are residents of Amanecer. Other Subud members were acting as ‘helpers’ to the participants, supporting them in processing and addressing the deep traumas.
The Hijas de la Paz Project has enabled these vulnerable young women to feel their intrinsic value as persons, and from a place of deep quiet, they learned and worked harmoniously with a community of mentors. This is how they can be nurtured into future leaders and peacemakers.
The global symposium Transforming Education: Ethics Education for Learning to Live Together gathered more than 900 educators, children and young people, policymakers, religious leaders, faith-based and civil society organizations, academic researchers, and multilateral agencies.
The Symposium provided a platform for various stakeholders to share experiences on ethics education programs and their contribution to peacebuilding and the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. Participants learned about good practices, programs, and policies from governments and schools, with the participation of several ministries of education.
We are pleased to share with you the Report of the Symposium, where you will find out more about the issues discussed, and the recommendations made by the different stakeholders.
One of the main outcomes of the symposium is the launch of the Ethics Education Fellowship Programme for ministries of education to build a network of formal education institutions and create a platform for sharing and building capacity within the ministries. The Fellowship Program will be formally announced within the next few weeks.
Please feel free toget in touch with us to explore collaborations and find opportunities for partnership and engagement.
“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 live in an increasingly globalised world where children have many spaces for learning and collaboration, but also a world of increasing distrust and fear of the other. Today, more than ever, we need to recognize 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. Ethics education can empower children to become global citizens and work together to build peaceful societies.
The Transforming Education symposium aimed to accelerate global action and support to prioritize ethics education as a critical aspect for societies to foster learning to live together, contributing to “building forward better”. Through a series of panel discussions and interactive workshops, participants have learned from the experience, insights, and expertise of diverse partners working at national, regional, and global levels. To enhance children’s meaningful participation, an advocacy session for children was held on the 23rd, inviting reflections on how ethics education might help to learn to live together; share recommendations and engage in dialogue with adult leaders.
The GHFP’s Scherto Gill spoke at the Panel on Research and Practice to Advance Knowledge on Ethics Education, and she highlighted the importance of applying an innovative conceptual framework for understanding ethics education which can serve as the basis to direct research interest and co-create knowledge.
Overall, the Symposium provided a platform for various stakeholders to share experiences on ethics education programmes and their contribution to peaceful societies and to the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. It also offered an invaluable opportunity to learn from good practices, programmes, and policies illustrated by governments and schools, with the participation of several Ministries of Education.
A critical result of the symposium has been to identify key benefits of integrating ethics education into national curricula and programmes, and put forth policy recommendations and concrete programmatic actions on integrating ethics education as a core tenet of equal and inclusive education for all children. Read the Full Report HERE.