Teaching About Religions: "Playing for Change"
This paper advocates for the introduction of teaching about religions in schools in Trinidad and Tobago, and presents a preliminary strategy to this end. The background to the paper is a National Commission for UNESCO project, for which one of the major goals was to determine the status and feasibility of Teaching About World Religions (TAWR) in schools. The initiative involved: (a) a survey conducted in a sample of schools in 2008; (b) a symposium (January 2010); (c) a workshop (October 2010); and (d) a presentation at the Ministry of Education consultation on the primary school curriculum in 2011. Some of the consultation feedback revealed societal fears arising from a misunderstanding of the purpose of educating young people about religions other than their own. The paper argues that greater knowledge and understanding of the tenets of our various religions are critical for promoting harmony in diversity. Historically, interfaith relations have been marked by disrespect and persecution of some faiths. While there has been decided improvement at official levels in the 52 years of independence, there exists a legacy of mutual intolerance, prejudice, and mistrust, based largely on lack of information. The formal education system does not adequately address this legacy. The authors considered the nomenclature for such a programme, and propose a preliminary framework and implementation strategy for teacher training and curriculum materials development for interreligious studies.
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