Blair begins his school project

by
10 June 2009

by Bill Bowder

Face to face: Tony Blair at the launch of a new project, Face to Faith, in London on Tuesday

Face to face: Tony Blair at the launch of a new project, Face to Faith, in London on Tuesday

A CHILD in New Delhi, India, Ayush Bhardwaj, told Tony Blair on Monday that children were better equipped than Mr Blair’s generation to bring peace to the world.

Ayush, a pupil at Indian Heights School, in Dwarka, was taking part in a three-way video-link with a school in Bethlehem and pupils from Westhoughton High School, Bolton, who were in London for the launch of Mr Blair’s Faith Forum education programme, Face to Faith, which will use the internet to organise interfaith religious education between schools across the globe.

Mr Blair used a web link to ask pupils from each school what they thought they could bring to the cause of peace that he and his generation could not.

Ayush said that adults came up with definitions of what was right and wrong, and it was difficult to make them understand that they might be wrong about what they had decided. “It is easier for us,” Ayush said, “as we understand more easily and we learn more easily, and therefore we are able to understand what is needed for peace.”

The Principal of Indian Heights, Simmi Kher, in London for the launch, said that her school was con­sidering a video link with a school in Pakistan. The school’s founder, Mad­hu Gupta, said that it was essential to have the backing of the parents. “Most of the parents believe their caste is best. I think this will help to break down the caste system.”

Phil Hart, head teacher of West­houghton, who was at the launch, said that the project was not a “free-for-all”: the video conferences were tightly controlled. The scheme had the potential “to make history”, he said.

Jane Clements, director of the Forum for Discussion of Israel and Palestine, said: “Tony Blair’s idea is good, but it might need a bit more practical bite.” Relations between Israel and Palestine were “the elephant in the room” that no one would discuss in interfaith meetings, she said; “so that’s why we set up our group, to discuss it. Our way is to do it through personal narratives. It’s a big issue for interfaith groups.”

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