1 million federal dollars for inter-faith education

August 3, 2010 by J-Wire Staff
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Together For Humanity, a Jewish, Christian and Muslim based initiative launch the national roll-out of a benchmark educational initiative to support teachers in fostering understanding, mutual respect and acceptance amongst students from different backgrounds and faiths.

Funded with over $1 million over the next 3 years by the Australian Department of Education, Employment and Training, the program will create state-of-the-art online resources for teachers across Australia dealing with religious and cultural diversity in schools.

Rabbi Zalman Kastel, National Director, says: ‘‘To help students, teachers need readily available, practical resources, including not only success stories but also, importantly, pitfalls and failures.  They also need quick access to assistance from external experts.

‘Our flexible online resources will include FAQs about a range of dilemmas and tricky questions, short tips, articles, videos, information about existing resources such as Courage to Care, the Jewish Museum and Mosque tours for example and a help desk.  ‘We will also provide professional development, delivered by teacher training experts as short online courses or lessons, available on an in-service basis, or pre-service basis for student teachers.’

The initiative was launched with a School activity on the 29th of July at Ascham School. 30 students from Jewish, Christian, Muslim and other faiths and backgrounds will came together at Ascham school for an exercise from Together for Humanity’s inter-school workshops.  They were be drawn from Punchbowl Boys High School,  Mt Sinai College, St Catherine’s, Ascham and Qibla, and Arkana College both Muslim schools.

During the day, students were divided into two (fictional) conflicting groups, with ‘media reports’ which report each team’s views and behaviour.  They discussed the opposing team’s point of view.  Afterwards, they examined how they felt, how they dealt with the situation, the extent to which each came to understand the opposing viewpoint, and lessons about to deal with conflict.

Madenia Abdurahman, President, says Together for Humanity, a non-profit company, has a strong track record.  It has successfully implemented programs and workshops since 2002 for over 50,000 youngsters from diverse backgrounds in primary and secondary schools in five states and the territories, supported by government and private grants.   They are presented by role models from diverse cultures working together. The students learn to replace assumptions and stereotypes about others with recognition of common values and respect for difference.

‘The programs are fun and very empowering.  Attitude surveys show dramatically improved perceptions of “the other”, sustained over time. An, independent expert evaluation found the programs highly effective.’ Visit www.togetherforhumanity.org.au for more details.

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