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Sound the Bamboo
[CCA Hymnal]



Dealing with Religious Differences in Schools

How do religiously affiliated schools deal with cultural, socio-economic, gender and religious differences within the school population? Should the schools be advocates for the truth of their religious communities or should they be sites for learning to participate in interreligious dialogue?

These and other questions were behind the holding of the 4th Conference of the Education and Ethos Network held at Radboud University in Nijmegen, The Netherlands on January 20-22. CCA-FMU executive secretary Hope S. Antone was invited as one of the keynote speakers on "Religious Differences in Religiously Affiliated Schools"

Key points in Hope's paper, shared with a powerpoint presentation, are the following:
* There is definitely a place for education in the 'first language', i.e. Christian Education for church-related schools for even other religious adherents would expect and understand that. But schools need to guard against fostering an oppositional identity which can become the foundation for intolerance and demonization of the other.

* Knowing that there are different religious adherents in the religiously affiliated schools, educators need to teach in ways that stimulate among students a deep and learned commitment to their own traditions while urging them to participate in religiously pluralistic societies.

* The language of conversation and encounter begins with recognizing, appreciating and valuing differences, including the differences in our lenses for viewing the world.

* Learning from differences needs to be viewed not simply to foster tolerance but for mutually enriching each other, including learning from and correcting each other.

* Venturing into the second language of Religious Education would at its best require a different curriculum that involves the participation of religious educators from other faith communities.

There were four keynote addresses, each tackling a section of the theme of "Matters of Difference: Cultural, Socio-economic, Gender and Religious Differences within Religiously Affiliated Schools". Other speakers and paper presentors on other related themes came from religiously affiliated schools in Europe and some from USA and Canada.

The invitation for Hope came from the office of Dr. Chris Hermans upon the recommendation of Prof. Aad de Jong, both of Radboud University. The organizers felt the need to hear from a voice from another continent where religious differences were a common reality.

posted by hope on Saturday, February 05, 2005  

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