As an organisation involved in supporting inter-religious and intercultural understanding through education, the Executive Committee of EFTRE is very concerned about the challenges to peace and stability currently taking place in Ukraine. We are deeply committed to European co-operation and want to express our full solidarity with all those who stand up for peace and reconciliation across Europe and beyond.
Peacebuilding, in a context of human rights and social responsibility, is an integral part of all our educational encounters and activities. Current events demonstrate how close we are as people of Europe and as fellow human beings from a wide range of backgrounds, religions and cultures. We have a deep sense of connection in our commitment to education and to learning from and with each other across borders and differences.
We acknowledge that many educators in different countries will currently be facing the challenge of how to address these issues with their pupils and students. EFTRE bases its educational approach on the Toledo Guiding Principles on Teaching about Religions and Beliefs in Public Schools1, and we offer the following extracts from this set of principles to highlight our concerns and commitments at this time, namely that:
“Students should learn about religions and beliefs in an environment respectful of human rights, fundamental freedoms and civic values;
Those who teach about religions and beliefs should have a commitment to religious freedom … ;
… teaching about religions and beliefs should give attention to key historical and contemporary developments … and reflect global and local issues”.
In a spirit of mutual support, we would welcome the sharing of any practical suggestions around ideas and resources for teaching about these issues through Religious Education classes in collaboration with other subjects. It is our intention to make these approaches available via our website.
We are conscious that some of our colleagues, members and fellow educators are particularly close to these difficult situations, and we know that some are especially anxious about the future. At this tense and difficult time, we want to assure them of our thoughts, our concern for their safety and our hopes for a justice in a spirit of peace.
1 The Toledo Guidelines were published by the OSCE/ODIHR in 2007: https://www.osce.org/odihr/29154. See also Signposts, Policy and practice for teaching about religions and non-religious world views in intercultural education, published by the Council of Europe in 2014: https://www.academia.edu/29035890.