Reflection by our new chair Bert Roebben

At the conference taking place in Rome in August 2023, EFTRE elected a new chair for its organisation. Bert Roebben is professor of Religious Education at the at the Faculty of Catholic Theology of the University of Bonn. He is passionate about teaching and researching learning processes in the field of religions and worldviews in a European context. In his blogbpost, he shares his reflections about the challenges and opportunities EFTRE faces in the Europe we live in today. The EFTRE family is grateful to welcome such a motivated and passionate RE expert as its leader.

Students are entitled to “grow in shared humanity”, based on particular religious and non-religious narratives of hope and healing. Classroom teachers are their examples in meaning giving, their generators of hope, their “wounded healers”. They deserve all respect and support.

– Bert Roebben, chair

IRENE – Network for Innovative Religious Education: education for religious diversity

The IRENE project for the development of religious education was launched in December 2020, in the wake of the pandemic. The project is part of the EU’s Erasmus+ program. The name of the project network, IRENE, is an abbreviation of its English project description “Innovative Religious Education Network: educating to the religious diversity.”

Among the goals, there have been to facilitate the exchange of experiences, transfer of knowledge and innovative methods in religious education, increase digital, social, and multicultural skills of participants, and create strategic partnerships and real cooperation among the partners of the project.

The project is led by the NGO Asociatia Vasiliada from Craiova, Romania. Other partners include the University of Eastern Finland, the Istituto di Studi Ecumenici San Bernardino della Provincia Sant’Antonio dei Frati Minori in Venice, the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, the Fondatsiya za Regionalno Razvitie in Sofia, Bulgaria, and the Evangelical Lutheran Theological Institute of Tallinn.

The IRENE project is aimed at religious education teachers, theologians, and clergy.  It does not focus solely on the development of school education. According to the participating countries, the project will focus on the study and development of religious education and upbringing in both the school and ecclesial contexts.

As a result of the project, several teaching and training materials have been produced online in the language of each country and have been used to compile, for example, a Training Guide ( Finnish and Estonian partners carried out a comparative study on the implementation of religious education in the partner countries ( There are also several videos dealing with religious education in partner countries, religious diversity and multiculturism topics, and pedagogical issues ( ). The project will end in April 2023. At the University of Eastern Finland, the project has been coordinated by Risto Aikonen, lecturer in the pedagogy of Orthodox religion at the Department of Applied Educational Science and Teacher Education, who is a member of the EFTRE board. – RA.

Welcome to the XVth EFTRE Conference in Rome 24th-27th of August!

Bridges over Troubled Waters – RE in changing times

This Conference is taking place in Rome 24th -27th of August in 2023. It isan opportunity for academics, practitioners and others interested in the education of teachers of religious education or in the teaching of religious education across Europe. Each Conference has a local and an international dimension exploring the religious practices and teaching of the place where the Conference is situated as well as exploring wider themes. 

At the EFTRE conference, together we are looking for safe bridges to find a path into a brighter future. You will have opportunities to analyse how RE can and must adapt to this new scenery in contemporary European societies. Insightful keynotes and practical workshops will enable you to consider how RE might offer a context in which children and young people can reflect on what it means to take their place within this complex world. Visits to local organisations and sites in Rome complete the conference programme.

Registration and the conference program:

EFTRE conference planning gets concrete

“Building bridges over troubled waters – RE in changing times.” This is the theme of the next EFTRE conference, which will take place from 24 to 27 August 2023. The Executive Board of EFTRE is in the middle of preparations and was able to meet in presence in November 2022 for the first time after 3 years.

In Rome, they were warmly welcomed by their Italian member organisation SNADIR (Association of Teachers of Religion in Italy) and its Executive Director Orazio Ruscica. With the Link Campus University, a beautiful location was found in the centre of Rome that invites teachers, teacher trainers as well as researchers of religious education to learn together, to share meals and exchange with each other.

More information about the venue, the programme and registration will be available soon.

CoRE report Religion and worldviews: the way forward

CoRE report Religion and worldviews: the way forward

“The Commission on Religious Education (CoRE) has spent the last two years listening to evidence from a wide-range of concerned parties including pupils, teachers, lecturers, advisers, parents and faith and belief communities. We have received over three thousand submissions. We have been excited and encouraged by the reports of the excellent work happening day by day in many classrooms. We are, however, convinced that RE needs rejuvenating if it is to continue to make its important contribution; indeed if it is not to wither on the vine. There are three reasons for this. First is the growing diversity of religions and beliefs that pupils today encounter, both in their locality and in the media. Second is the variable quality of RE experienced by pupils across the country. Third is the fact that the legal arrangements around RE are no longer working as more schools become academies. In this, its Final Report, CoRE therefore proposes that a new National Plan for RE should be enacted to ensure that learning in this area remains academically rigorous and a knowledge-rich preparation for life in a world of great religion and belief diversity.”

Material about Online workshop on “Longing for peace – Strategies for the RE classroom”

EFTRE Online Workshop – April 2022

Following discussions within the Executive Committee of EFTRE as to how best to respond to the conflict in Ukraine, two decisions were made.  The first was to issue a statement on the EFTRE website highlighting the importance of education in developing inter-religious and intercultural understanding, and affirming that “Peacebuilding, in a context of human rights and social responsibility, is an integral part of all our educational encounters and activities”.   

The second decision was to prepare an online Workshop in order to flesh out these ideals in a context that might be helpful to religious educators at all levels.  It was agreed to find examples of effective practice from different parts of Europe and to offer these for consideration and discussion. 

The Workshop took place on 1st April 2022, and participants joined from a range of countries including Belgium, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Sweden and the UK (England and Northern Ireland).  After a welcome and introduction by Lesley Prior, the EFTRE Chair, those taking part were given an opportunity to share their own experiences of dealing with issues around war and conflict. 

A powerful reflection via images and words – Passport Photos for Sheltering Ukrainians – was presented by Hugo Verkest, from Belgium, followed by the sharing of a wide range of sources and resources collected by Bianca Kappelhoff and her colleagues in Germany.  Lesley Prior made a brief presentation on Quaker Peace Education resources produced in England, and Norman Richardson, based on his experience in Northern Ireland, introduced a PowerPoint presentation entitled Difficult Conversations? –  Approaching Controversial Issues in the Religious Education Classroom.

These presentations and links to the resources are now available via this website.  We hope that they will be useful both at the present time and in the future. Please bring them to the attention of colleagues, pupils and students. 

EFTRE would welcome any other experiences and teaching ideas that you would like to share on these important issues as we continue to encourage and support peacebuilding through Religious Education and related subjects.

The resources collected in Germany referred to above can be found in the following websites:

British Quaker Peace Education resources can be found at:

Online workshop on “Longing for peace – Strategies for the RE classroom”

Friday, 1st April 2022 at 4-5.30pm CET (3-4.30pm UK/IRE, 5-6.30pm FIN/GRE), on Zoom

The current challenges arising from Ukraine are affecting all of us living and working in education across Europe. As religious education teachers, you might be wondering how to take up the topic in a sensible way in your classroom, how to talk about peace as core idea of many world religions in this new setting or how to best react to fears and questions brought up by your students in this context. 

With this workshop, EFTRE would like to offer a space for exchange, which will provide the opportunity to share experiences and expertise from our various contexts and backgrounds and learn from one another. The workshop will follow these guiding questions.

  • How is the current situation affecting you right now?
  • Where do you encounter these issues at school? Are pupils moved by it?
  • How can religions give (spiritual) shape to the longing for peace, especially in religious education classes?
  • How do we learn peace? Do you have tips for materials, methods, …?

The workshop will provide time for exchange in plenary but also in small group discussion. In addition, Norman Richardson, EFTRE executive member, will share his experience from the Northern Irish context and strategies on how to teach controversial issues.

In a spirit of mutual support, ideas, practical suggestions and resources shared by speakers and participants during the workshop will be made available via the EFTRE website later on. 

You don’t need to register for this event, please simply follow this link to participate in the zoom meeting:

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 961 725 5369
Passcode: 613248

A Statement from the Executive Committee of EFTRE on the Current Crisis in Europe

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: 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:

Chair’s Letter December 2021

As we approach the end of another challenging year, I am sure we are all looking forward to a better and brighter world in 2022! I am pleased to say that EFTRE is playing its part in this by launching its revised and improved website! It has a completely fresh look and also features our brand new logo! We really hope that not only will you like it, but that you will want to interact with it and contribute to it in the weeks and months to come.

On behalf of all members and friends of EFTRE, I want to thank the whole EFTRE Executive for contributing to the process which has made this possible. In particular, I want to pay tribute to our website manager Outi Raunio Hannula and our membership manager Bianca Kappelhoff who have both given their special expertise and many hours of their valuable time to this project – their careful attention to every detail is so much appreciated. I would also like to thank our website designer Veera Lupunen – it has been such a pleasure to work with her and she has been incredibly supportive and understanding during the whole process.

Many of you reading this will be preparing to celebrate Christmas very soon – this is traditionally a time of giving, so please accept the new website as EFTRE’s little gift to you! 

We wish all our members and friends a restful and relaxing time during the holiday period and look forward to meeting you online and – we very much hope face to face – in 2022! Stay healthy, safe and well and keep in touch!