Schools should teach the concept of global citizenship to help children build a more peaceful, tolerant, and inclusive world when they grow up, a peace conference held at Expo 2020 Dubai has heard.
The eighth Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Communities was told how some schools in different parts of the world have developed their curriculum to promote co-existence and the acceptance of diversity within their small communities.
Canon Anthony Ball, an assistant bishop in the Egyptian city of Alexandria and in the UK, said Muslim and English schools in Egypt have collaborated on teaching children inclusive citizenship by introducing an initiative called Plant a Tree of Hope.
“Religious leaders from both sides go to a school and talk about inclusive citizenship and how children can work together from a young age,” he said.
“Citizenship is not just about co-operating for the common good in building the state, it's about including everyone in everything. For example, deaf pupils are included through sign language — that is inclusive citizenship.
“Citizens are taught about their responsibilities and how to build the future.”
He also spoke about how local and global citizenship is taught in British schools in the UK.
“It teaches the values of citizenship in the local context,” he said.
Such an approach is important because it helps children learn how to participate positively in society, the bishop said.
Muhammad Othman Elkhosht, president of Cairo University, said school curriculums needed to adapt to changing times and teach multicultural humanitarian citizenship.
“We need a radical transformation. We need to reconsider our education system,” the speaker said.
“We need to introduce subjects such as dialogue, inclusive citizenship, and also tweak chemistry and physics.
“We need to rewrite history because right now it's only based on conflict. Children need to learn the history of arts, culture, and science; not just the history of wars.
“Citizenship is a practice rather than a theory. It is the responsibility of the states to ensure these are taught in schools.
“Schools are a community-driven project and a good state should ensure equal access to education and not just for elite groups. It should teach tolerance in practicing religion and accepting others without clashes.”
Religious leaders from across the world are participating in the forum, titled Inclusive Citizenship: From Mutual Coexistence to Shared Conscience.
The event will run until Tuesday.