Tony Blair Announces New Education Projects in Ukraine
06 Jun 2011
Tony Blair has announced the launch of his Faith Foundation in the Ukraine and a partnership with the Victor Pinchuk Foundation. The Victor Pinchuk Foundation gives Ukraine's youth the tools and opportunities to become future leaders in the fields of health, education, culture, international affairs, and human rights. The Faith Foundation aims to enrich the religious literacy of Ukranian students and increase understanding of religion in a globalised world.
Speaking to an audience of 400 students in Kiev yesterday, Tony Blair, Patron and Founder of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, emphasised the potential of the young Ukranians in the audience and beyond to affect real change and improve relations between those of different faiths and within the same faith:
"In the end things can change but not unless there are people committed to doing it. It is your generation who will make the difference. If you don't think the world you live in is perfect get involved and make it better."
Tony Blair then highlighted the need to rescue religion from extremism:
"Extremists are well funded and well organised and we need to ensure that those who are open minded recover the true meaning of religion. I want to see faith viewed not as reactionary or redundant but for tit to be true to its spirit: working for the common good and as a civilising force which pursues social justice.
"Through our work, with Ukrainian partner schools and universities, we aim to contribute to the emergence of a cohort of Ukrainian young people and students who are critically analysing the role and influence of religion in today's modern world and actively forging better relationships across religious and cultural divides.
"We are grateful to the Victor Pinchuk Foundation for their support, and look forward to a close cooperation with the Ukrainian government and educational system to further these aims."
Victor Pinchuk said: "I am happy to support a programme focused on the next generation, the core target group of the Victor Pinchuk Foundation's work. We want to prepare them to develop the skills to bridge divides between faiths and cultures, develop a global outlook, and make diversity an asset." He added: "I am confident that this project will contribute to further supporting the development of Ukraine as a country of true religious tolerance not only on the level of legal rules but based on true knowledge, understanding and respect for others' faiths. Ukraine has known long periods of peaceful living together of different faiths, this is what we need to build on, foster, and share with others."
The Tony Blair Faith Foundation's international schools initiative, Face to Faith, aims to develop with Ukrainian school teachers a programme to connect high school students with their peers in 17 countries via educational modules and the use of video-conferencing technology. Its Faith and Globalisation initiative will work with Ukrainian higher education institutions to develop an academic discipline of studying faith in the modern world and which can be applied to business, politics and civil society.