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Generation 20/20: Agents for Change - Palmerston North Interfaith Group

Generation 20/20: Agents for Change - Palmerston North Interfaith Group

In August 2020 the Palmerston North Interfaith Group hosted 2 interfaith forums @ Café Royale, Square Edge where Palmerston North’s young leaders talked about changing the world they will inherit - on 4 August on Global Climate Change and on 11 August on Racism. The young leaders were from the Baha'i, Christian, Muslim and Sikh communities. This publication records the words of these rangatahi. 

Global Climate Change - 4 August 2020
For my Islands, I Raise My Voice – Grace Fakahau
Tongan; organiser of Student Strike for Climate Change; Student at Amanaki Stem Academy and Palmerston North Girls’ High School; Palmerston North Youth Council Chairperson.
Having Faith Does Make a Difference – Klem McJarrow-Keller
From St. Peter’s College and the Catholic community
Climate Change: What We Can Learn from Science and Islam – Agha Wajeeh
From Palmerston North Boys’ High and the Muslim community
Climate Change Action: Connecting with Young People – Jaspreet Singh
Researcher at AgResearch, a Crown Research Institute; born into the Sikh faith; founding member of Palmerston North Interfaith Group; member of Green S Welfare Force; active environmentalist, interested in history of places and migration
Climate Change: Our greatest moral challenge? – Kevin Tate- In Memoriam
Distinguished Climate Scientist, the late Dr Kevin Tate, speaking at the People’s Climate March in The Square, Palmerston North on 28 November 2015. The march was organised by Youth Action Group Manawatu as part of a nationwide demonstration of concern ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris

Racism - 11 August 2020
My name is Jasmine – I am a Māori – Jasmine Pai
Māori Bahá’í and Graphic Designer who stands with her people of Tainui and Te Arawa.
Moving Forward without Dropping the Ball – Elza Gibu Joseph
Service freelancer; trained Indian classical dancer; has given free lessons for events (last year taught 35 students and coordinated 2 programmes); Media coordinator for a number of events; Leader/organiser of ‘Focus Youth Group’; Teaches Bible Studies for the kids at St. Mary’s Catholic Church; student at St. Peter’s College.
The Role of Youth in Creating Constructive Change to Combat Racism – Tessa Ma’auga.
Art student and member of the Bahá’í community involved in the Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Programme
Islam’s Answer to Racism – Agha Wajeeh
From Palmerston North Boys’ High and the Muslim community

The publication also includes The Story of Interfaith Dialogue in Palmerston North by Mary Eastham.   
Report reveals teaching religion in our schools reduces extremism

Report reveals teaching religion in our schools reduces extremism

Religious Education in schools can strengthen multi-culturalism and reduce extremism in our wider communities, according to a new report.

The report found schools offering Special Religious Education (SRE), Religious Instruction (RI) and General Religious Education (GRE) were ideal settings "for children to develop an understanding of peace and tolerance.” The goal of teaching students how to live harmoniously with others in a contemporary and diverse society is a pillar of modern education, said the report. "Multicultural education is a key instrument in achieving social cohesion.” 

The report was written by world-renowned academics Professor Zehavit Gross (the UNESCO/Burg Chair in Education in Human Values, Tolerance and Peace at Bar-Ilan University, Israel) and Professor Emerita Suzanne Rutland, of the University of Sydney. 
The report highlighted the recent mass shootings in New Zealand, suicide bombings in Sri Lanka and the San Diego synagogue shooting as potential topics of discussion among students. For example, religious education teachers could discuss the fear and concern which affected Muslim, Christian and Jewish students in Australia, the report found. Removing in-faith education from government schools detracts from the government's multicultural aims by denying students a crucial avenue to explore their own religious identity and heritage. The report found SRE and GRE played a key role in dismantling stereotypes and strengthening social cohesion. Professor Gross said the belief that religion is irrelevant in a postmodern world is a myth. "Religion continues to play a major role in our public life and acknowledges the legitimate spiritual needs of each individual." Professor Rutland said religious belief and spirituality provide students with an anchor for their individual identities and contribute meaning to their lives. A strong grounding in one's individual identity, combined with knowledge of other religions, helps to combat extremism by teaching respect for diversity. Christian SRE CEO Murray Norman said it was vital students were provided with a safe place to explore their religious identities.

August 22, 2019 by J-Wire Newsdesk