The Launch of Face to Faith, a New Global Education Programme
In a world that is opening up at an astonishing speed, schools are recognising the need to equip young people with the skills to contribute to an increasingly global, interdependent society. Collaboration and communication skills, information and media literacy are all to be regularly found on the syllabus, acknowledged as vital tools for the 21st century.
Yet in a world in which 4 billion people - two thirds of the population - are of faith, can we be sure that young people are equipped to participate as global citizens if they do not understand much about the world's major religions? How can we ensure that a lack of knowledge does not lead to prejudice, antagonism and tension?
There are some significant opportunities at hand. We are already seeing how new technologies are stimulating radically new approaches to teaching and learning. Why not apply these technologies in such a way as to encourage students of different faiths to learn directly with, from and about each other to support encounter, exploration and exchange between students from different countries and cultures?
A new global education programme from the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, Face to Faith, is designed to do just that. The initiative was launched formally on Tuesday 9th June by Tony Blair who took part in a video-conference between three schools in the UK, Palestine and India.
Developed by an international group of educational experts and piloted in more than 10 countries on three continents, Face to Faith uses video conferencing, an online community and a course syllabus to support exchange between young people of different faiths. Face to Faith also contributes to the project component of the 'Global Perspectives' IGSCE from Cambridge Assessment as well as to a range of national RE, Humanities, Social Sciences and Citizenship qualifications and curricula.
The programme has already been taken up by schools in India, Singapore, Pakistan, Palestinian Territories, Thailand, Indonesia, Lebanon, the US, UK and Canada, who have recognised the programme's potential to improve young people's religious literacy. Young people involved in the pilot are already reporting how their understanding of the role of faith in today's world has increased by learning from those of differing social, cultural and religious perspectives. As a student from The Indian Heights School in New Delhi commented; 'It's so much more interesting and real to learn directly from people of a different religion rather than simply reading about them in a book.'