Government of Philippines and Tony Blair Announce Education Plan for Peace-building Between Faiths


Government of Philippines and Tony Blair Announce Education Plan for Peace-building Between Faiths

23 Aug 2011

The Government of the Philippines and the Tony Blair Faith Foundation (TBFF) today announced a partnership that will see teachers and students take a lead on peace-building and engagement between young people of different faiths in areas with a history of religious conflict.

Brother Armin Luistro, Secretary of Education and Tony Blair, Patron of the TBFF met in Manila to sign the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that will bring two of the Foundation's leading education programmes to Filipino schools and universities.

Also present at the signing ceremony were the Chairman for the Commission on Higher Education, Dr Patricia Licuanan and Undersecretary of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process.

The new agreement between the Government of the Philippines and the TBFF will:

- Promote religious literacy in the Philippines through the implementation of the Foundation's Face to Faith programme. This will give young people the opportunity to learn key skills needed for dialogue and engagement between students of different faith and cultural traditions

- Help the Faith Foundation and the Department of Education work together to plan the sustainable implementation of Face to Faith in Philippine public schools

- Enrich and strengthen the current school curriculum

- Provide students and teachers with the opportunity to learn from their peers around the world to understand global perspectives on faith and key 21st century issues

- Involve a consortium of Philippines Universities to the Foundation's Faith and Globalisation Initiative, joining leading universities across the world

Commenting on the partnership, Secretary of Education, Brother Armin Luistro, said:

"We thank the Tony Blair Faith Foundation for the opportunity for peace to take root in the hearts and minds of Filipino teachers and students by developing their skills at peace-building and engagement across different faiths. Many social, ethnic and cultural conflict are born out of mistrust which is fuelled by wrong or incomplete information or outright falsehood against a certain race, faith or ethnicity."

"Thus, we see the Face to Faith programme as a chance to enlighten our minds and set it free from ignorance and prejudice. I believe education can be a good starting point to bring about a culture of peace in a world that is continuously being buffeted by religious and social intolerance."

Chair of the Commission of Higher Education Dr. Licuanan added:

"The Philippines can immensely benefit from help from our friends at this stage of our quest for lasting and honorable peace in the country. Having signed this significant document of cooperation and fruitful partnership today, we now would like to call on our institutions of higher learning, their teachers, researchers, extension workers and other experts, the whole community of scholars to gear up for the work and "life of the mind" that will emerge from the exciting new fields of inquiry, reflection and formation of young people in this era of the Faith and Globalization University Initiative."

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Tony Blair, Founder and Patron of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, said:

"Religion can claim responsibility for some of the most profoundly positive and important events and movements the world has ever known. Yet it has also been associated with some of the most heinous and horrible crimes against humanity. And nowhere is this complex relationship between religion and the world more apparent than in the Mindanao conflict in the Philippines.

"That's why I am delighted to stand next to Brother Luistro and Dr. Licuanan and say that we will be working with both the Department of Education and the Commission on Higher Education to bring our schools and universities programmes into the Filipino education system. Our Face to Faith programme will provide the next generation of Filipino leaders with the opportunity to learn essential communication skills while also gaining greater understanding of interfaith dialogue and the role of religion in the modern world. We will also begin work with the Commission for Higher Education, the Office of the Peace Process and a consortium of universities in our Faith & Globalisation Initiative, which gives university students from around the world the opportunity to learn more about religion's complex relationship with the forces of globalisation."