Teaching about religions in New Zealand schools has been a priority concern expressed by the annual national Religious Leaders Forums, hosted by the Religious Diversity Centre for the last two years. Leaders consider that increased understanding of a wide range of religious beliefs would ultimately lead to a decrease in incidences of religiously based harassment and abuse.
The Religious Leaders Forum has set up a workgroup to take the initiative forward. The group are monitoring the current review of the Social Studies curriculum now underway with a view to recommending the inclusion of ‘teaching about religions’ in the future.
The Religious Diversity Centre is already significantly involved in hosting Leadership Diversity Days where young people, many of whom have had no contact or involvement with those of different religious and or cultural backgrounds, are able to experience first hand both the positive aspects and the challenges inherent in living with religious diversity. Teachers who have attended the Leadership Diversity Days report very favourably on the outcome of the programme for both students and teachers alike. This year the RDC hosted two of these events, and met with enthusiasm from all involved.
“Learning about different views and backgrounds gives us a chance to find new ways to be better to ourselves, each other, and the environment.”
“I was open minded before but this pushed me out of my comfort zone and helped me interact with people from other faiths.”
“This day gives students an opportunity to practise dialogue with others, and to apply what they have learned.”