Reports

Report of the Africa World Region Group, Second Forum

17th - 19th May 2004, Geneva, Switzerland

Introduction

GNRC Africa World Region brought together 22 participants from 15 African countries and two children representatives. The countries represented were:

  • Kenya
  • Tanzania
  • Uganda
  • South Africa
  • Burundi
  • The Sudan
  • Nigeria
  • Ghana
  • Mozambique
  • Malawi
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe
  • Namibia
  • Mauritius
  • Botswana

Participants at the GNRC Forum II from the Africa World Region were:

  • a) Mr. Bafour Amou
  • b) Ms. Marlene Silbert,
  • c) Ms. Nina Gopaul,
  • d) Ms. Ennie Mhuriro
  • e) Sr. Jean Pruitt
  • f) Mr. Nicholaus Shemsanga
  • g) Rev. Ilukuptiye Panasekara
  • h) Mr. Siragi Balinda
  • i) Sh. Ibrahim Lethome
  • j) Ms. Joyce Umbima
  • k) Ms. Neera Kapila Kent
  • l) Mr. John Kariuki
  • m) Rev. Gabriel Beregens
  • n) Ms. Lynn Walker
  • o) Ms. Zainab Abbas
  • p) Prof. Lateefa Durosinmi
  • q) Rev. Lucas Amosse
  • r) Mr. Tommy Nkanane
  • s) Mr. Tendai Muchenje
  • t) Mr. Nelson Mkandawile

Moderator: Mustafa Y. Ali

The Children participants were:

  • a) Mr. Emanuel Mathias
  • b) Ms. Martha Naigwe

Observers were:

  • a) Dr. Malcolm Pearce
  • b) Ms. Meg Gardinier

METHODOLOGY
The Africa World Region designed its sessions to ensure that that Ethics Education, Peace Building and Interfaith Dialogue were given the due attention they deserve. The Region divided itself into three. Each group discussed in detail the prospects, initiatives, and suggested specific action plan to be implemented in the next four years. Each of the groups discussed the following subjects and reported back;

  • a) Ethics Education in Africa - Prospects, Initiatives - (What and How)
  • b) Peace Building in Africa - Prospects, Initiatives - (What and How)
  • c) Interfaith Dialogue - Prospects, Initiatives - (What and How)

Monday 17 May 2004
Proposed Study on Religions and Children

The meeting of the Africa World Region started with introduction from each participant. This was followed by an explanation of a proposal on a study to be undertaken by the GNRC and Unicef at the request of Unicef’s programme Officer on Public Partnerships Ms. Farida Ali. Ms. Ali explained to the participants about the need for a study to be conducted on what each of the ten different religions said about children. The study, Ms. Ali said, would look into the contribution of major religious faiths around the globe on issues affecting children. She told the said that it was up to the GNRC participants to give the mandate to the GNRC and Unicef on whether such a study was relevant and necessary.

Ms. Ali encouraged underlined that scholars will form a core group of the study. She gave a background about the inadequate media treatment of children issues at the global level in which she gave an example of the New York Times, which has a religious column that publishes twice a week but unfortunately did not touch on anything about children. She encouraged participants to build a rich database on religion and children. She advised the African delegates to use the structures already established by Unicef for example Eastern, Southern Africa, and Western Africa if indeed GNRC wished to work with the United Nations.

Ms. Ali informed the African World group that nothing concrete had been started or agreed on but challenged the regional participants on the need to take it as their own project. She informed the Africa World Region Group that the 10 religions were chosen on the principle of representativeness.

Presentations

Peace Building Programme - A case study of Zimbabwe

Ms. Ennie Mhuriro from Silveira House, Zimbabwe did a presentation on “Conflict Resolution and Peace Building and Its Impact on Youth�. After the presentation, participants were given a chance to discuss the presentation. Suggestions were put forward from the group to include women in their programme because they influenced their children and how they behaved. It was also noted that the issue of National Youth Service was also present in Sudan, Kenya and Uganda and resulted to more or less the same behavior from the conscripts.

Ms. Marlene Silbert from the Holocaust Center - South Africa did a presentation on Education, Ethics and Prejudice using the Holocaust as a case study. She gave an account of the Holocaust and how she was using it in South Africa in explaining the sanctity of human life. She informed the group that proposals had been sent to have the lessons from the Holocaust to be incorporated in the formal school curriculum.

Mr. Ibrahim Lethome, Secretary General of the Islamic Foundation, presented on “Children Gains in the Kenya Constitution Review�. In his presentation, he said that children had made tremendous gains in the through legislation that among other things, entrenched in the constitution the right to free education, food, shelter, automatic citizenship and other freedoms espoused in the bill of rights.

Tuesday 18 May 2004

Ms. Nina Gopaul from Mosaique, Mauritius did a presentation on “Promotion of Interfaith Dialogue in Mauritius�. She highlighted a programme whereby Mosaique produced and published booklets titled “Together, we shall succeed!�

The presentation marked the end of the Africa World Region Group plenary. Thereafter, the Region divided into three groups. Each of the groups discussed the following subjects and reported back;
d) Ethics Education in Africa - Prospects, Initiatives - (What and How)
e) Peace Building in Africa - Prospects, Initiatives - (What and How)
f) Interfaith Dialogue - Prospects, Initiatives - (What and How)

The groups also discussed the;
a) Regional Action Plan (Africa) (What, Where, When and Who)
b) Sub-Regional Action Plan (Western Africa, Eastern Africa, Southern Africa) (What, Where, When and Who)

GROUP REPORTS

1. Group One

Ethics Education

Group one discussed and identified the following to be key points regarding Ethics Education relevant to the African continent:

  • a) Responsibility for teaching moral values - where diversity is respected, human rights are valued, democracy guarded,
  • b) Importance of individual responsibilities,
  • c) Importance of respect for people from all religious civilizations,
  • d) Peaceful co-existence and respect for people regardless of religious differences, ethnicity, gender, belief, socio-economic stature,
  • e) Creating of responsible children as citizens in a democracy,
  • f) Respect for human rights and rights of the child,
  • g) Identify danger signal in communities - knowing when to act and react,
  • h) Educate trainers, educators establish Chair for all faiths in teachers training institutions so that they are sensitized to all faiths.
  • Peace Building

Group one underlined that:

  • a) Ethics, Education, Interfaith Council and Dialogue equals to Peace building
  • b) In this equation, leaders at all levels should be engaged,
  • c) Acknowledge indigenous and traditional cultures and interact with traditional and community leaders,
  • d) Interfaith Council needed for co-operation and dialogue at all levels, sharing information, identifying common ideas that bind us, and identifying commonalties towards education.

Plan of Action:

  • a) Set up a Co-ordination Council whose composition includes faith and traditional leaders,
  • b) Call upon faiths and traditional leaders to identify and list moral and ethical issues and values promoted or inherent in their faiths and cultures,
  • c) Faiths and traditional leaders meet to discuss, identify common ethical and moral values. The meting should aim to create one single document on ethical and moral education (set out principles) and submit to Co-ordinating Council,
  • d) Co-ordinating Council meets to formalize document on principles of moral and ethics education,
  • e) Co-ordinating Council sensitizes teachers, legislators and parents by holding workshops,
  • f) Evaluation at short periods or continuously.

2. Group 2

Ethics Education

Group 2 defined Ethics as the presence of goodness.

Prospects

  • a) Ethics is inclusion should be tackled from the roots e.g. Banana tree,
  • b) The current social models illustrate/exhibit our children to non-violent cultures (cultures of violent or conflict cultures),
  • c) Faith and action approach amongst all religious groups,
  • d) Africa has a meticulous indigenous mosaic of values that can be used as a stepping stone/bridge to disseminate ethics education to our children.

Initiatives

  • a) Inclusion of ethics of education in schools curriculum,
  • b) Start of a global ethics bank/resource center on religious ethics,
  • c) Collation of ethical and moral teachings as defined by various religious teachings into one document.

Plan of Action

  • a) Starting or building a resource center on ethical education to be fed by research or pull outs from different sources or doctrines,
  • b) Production of ethics education manual (Global),
  • c) Create a taskforce to facilitate the networking and collation of ethical values into a document,
  • d) To advocate for inclusion of ethics education in education curriculum,
  • e) A taskforce be formed to translate the above objects/goals into action

Peace Building

Group defined peace as absence of war and conflicts and harmonious co-existence between human beings, God and environment.

Initiatives

  • a) Initiate Peace Education Programmes in Africa,
  • b) Initiate programmes that would steer forward the access of children fundamental rights and needs (Eradication of poverty),
  • c) Advocacy programmes on good governance and civic education should be strengthened to enforce policies,
  • d) Initiate children connecting programmes. This would enhance the capacity of children to appreciate their social religion cultural identity and diversity,
  • e) Involve children in peace oriented activities and in specific 'peace clubs' as an entry point into accomplishing other areas related to peace building like volunteering, respect for youth.

Plan of Action

  • a) Successive peace education in Somalia, Sierra Leone, Sudan and Rwanda,
  • b) To advocate for job creation strategic plans by government - demand domestication of children rights convention,
  • c) Faith groups to press for total cancellation of debts,
  • d) Start of peace clubs in learning institutions volunteerism activities healing to the earth activities etc.

3. Group 3

Group participants reiterated that Ethics Education will only have value if it brings out mutual respect amongst humanity and human dignity and that all religions must come together bring about information on ethics. It also stressed on the need for international campaigns against corruption, for violent free schools and general networking around these issues.

Proposed that:

  • a) That we also support the call the collection of study of religions sub regionally - 3 years,
  • b) Build national networks plan international campaigns for child soldiers - 3 years,
  • c) Consultation with media on how to give visibility and publicity on child issues - 2006,
  • d) Community leadership must fill the interfaith action dialogue,
  • e) Development must come the objective of dialogue 3 years,
  • f) Call for people to support the GNRC call on Ethics Education,

Conclusions

The African World Group concluded the meeting by breaking Africa into three sub-regions. These are:

  • Region Person Responsible Country
  • Western Africa Bafour Amou Ghana
  • Eastern and Central GNRC Africa Secretariat Tanzania
  • Southern Africa To be established South Africa

It was resolved that GNRC Africa Second Forum be held in November 2005.

Statement of the Africa World Region. Our Promise to the Children in Africa

GNRC Africa promises to recognize the vital role children play in our society. GNRC Africa promises to foster respect for people of different religions and civilizations, and to promote the value system that emphasize dignified and harmonious co-existence and solidarity regardless of class, colour, creed, ethnic and cultural differences. GNRC Africa promises to promote widespread implementation of education that offers children opportunities and encourage peace and ethics. GNRC Africa promises our children to advocate that they live as children, be children and be respected as children. Our promise to children is straightforward and unambiguous - that we will ensure that they live in a peaceful and happy environment and that they will grow and develop in a loving community.

Action Plan

  1. To achieve the right impact, GNRC Africa should organize networks in Eastern, Western and Southern Africa as soon as possible to be followed by national networks.
  2. Commission a group to collate ethical values that each faith religion contribute into some policy document on ethics while at the same time identify elements that will be used in building a curricula. In this regard, GNRC Africa mandates the collaboration between GNRC and UNICEF to conduct a study on what the religions say about children.
  3. Mount an international campaign to make it impossible for the leadership of warring factions that use child soldiers to assume political power.
  4. Mount a public campaign for the promotion of interfaith action at community level with a view to creating appropriate environment for the development of children.
  5. Establish forums at sub regional levels to enhance publicity and promotion of CRC - Convention of the Children Right as well as addressing and discussing matters affecting children such as child trafficking, prostitution, labour and exploitation.
  6. Establish a system for resource sharing - manual and electronic means.
  7. To hold the next GNRC Africa Forum in November 2005 to evaluate the progress made in Ethics and Peace Education in the African continent