HOLY LAND/ Is it up to children to bring Muslims and Christians together?
Going to school in Jerusalem (Infophoto)
In East Jerusalem, in the Arab area of the city, a small community of nuns runs a nursery school where children come mostly from Muslim families. "It is not strange for us to take them to a Christian school”, the mothers explain, “We know that in this place they are taken care of, they are safe, they learn and are happy. This is what we want for our children, what every mother wants for her child".
"In all this, the school can dictate the method. Divisions and fears cannot be overcome by speaking abstractly of peace and coexistence, but by bringing people together around common interests and what is in their heart". AVSI, an Italian NGO, works closely with the schools in Israel and Palestine. "In many of the projects that we propose” the head of the office in Jerusalem, Alberto Repossi states, “for example, we work on the method of teaching different subjects, responding to very specific needs that go beyond ethnicity or religion. It is the same principle we use when we work on other issues, such as the environment. We do not start from an abstract concept but from the evidence, which is the place where we live, move and find out more about ourselves and that is why it is worth while taking care of it".
This is the same principle, again, according to which teachers are offered courses on teamwork (one is taking place at the school run by the Custody of the Holy Land in Bethlehem), where they learn to work together, accepting correction and criticism, in view of an educational need that is more basic than technical. "This is not about creating peace and coexistence. They are further steps but cannot be the starting point. We start from the person and his real need and from an idea of education, which is found in the Christian schools of the Holy Land that are based on a readiness to help others and on the promotion of sparks of good".
(translation by Maria Bond)