Education is the basis for entrenching the values of tolerance

Education is the basis for entrenching the values of tolerance

By Fr. Rif'at Bader

As the 7th discussion paper on education has been issued by His Majesty King Abdullah II, this is the most favorable time for serious and daring discussion of the educational procession, and to have it serve as a basis for further achievements.

A number of analysts and writers analyzed the grand discussion paper, in line with the previous discussion papers, which provides a new perspective at the social level of the future on scientific and practical bases within the framework of equality and citizenship addressed by previous papers. In this respect, we are talking about the current paper which cannot be dealt with in isolation from the previous ones.

In the 6th discussion paper, His Majesty the King, for example, focused on “religious freedom, or rather freedom of faith, tolerance, as well as the discourse of love and respecting others…” From this premise, the current discussion paper on education and its development sets the bases not only for learning by rote but also for serving as an incentive to understanding, reflection and analysis. In short it implies moving from the stage of "learning by rote to the stage of establishing a culture that reflects the identity.

This identity is Arab "and" Islamic. This involves a development for our school books or curricula that always used the term "Arab Islamic identity" and by omitting the word "and", it gives the right to the other Arabs to express themselves. The other Arabs are the Christians who are bedrocked in the area of the Arab history.

His Majesty the King, who is considered worldwide as one of the major defenders of the Arab Christian presence--who called in September 2013 for convening a conference to discuss the challenges facing the Christians and welcomed the forcibly displaced from Mosul--sets the bases in this paper for distinction and respect for history. This implies that the Arab identity can be Muslim and Christian as well, where both identities share knowledge, partnership and cooperation.

Royal discussion paper on distinctive education and projecting its output "is our entrée towards the future". We badly need implementing this in our schools and curricula which, regretfully, feel ashamed of mentioning the other party. Subsequently, they did not call for toleration or cooperation as it basically disregards the presence the other. It is shameful that the initiative of "the Week of Harmony among Religions" is not mentioned in our school curricula. It was launched in Jordan and adopted by the United Nations, yet we still do not quote it in our school curricula. Therefore, we up to date do not prepare future generations that believe in it.

Regarding the school curricula, His Majesty the King states that they have to teach our children and daughters the concept of difference as well as the culture of diversity and dialogue. These words are greatly impressive. They have to be effectively implemented, for diversity is rich, the difference in opinion does not constitute disagreement, the religious plurality in societies is not shameful, the characteristics of dialogue are not confined to hotels, official conferences that host the elite of intellectuals. Dialogue is an art and culture that students learn at school.

We do await the proclamation for the formation of the national council, which will, undoubtedly, be guided by this discussion paper. In the light of the above, its expected incumbent president and members will acknowledge the other party. This will lead to the deepening and consolidating of the norm of dialogue in our school curricula in the first place particularly in the mentality of the directors and teachers so as full au fait and compliance between the what the teachers have got on mind and the method of teaching.

Your Majesty, the King, thank you for teaching the culture of diversity and dialogue.

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