BEIRUT: Should comparative religious education be introduced into academic curricula for high school students? Or should students only be taught “shared values,” and be spared the worrisome details of theology?
These and other questions were tackled Thursday during a seminar on pluralism and coexistence at UNESCO Thursday, organized by the Lebanese National Commission for UNESCO and the Adyan Foundation to celebrate the conclusion of its project “Education on diversity and coexistence.”
Six students presented a common charter to religious figures, representing 13 of the country’s sects and education officials, including caretaker Education Minister Hassan Mneimneh.
The charter discussed the education system’s failure to provide students with an education on religious pluralism and coexistence, and supported introducing the subject of comparative religions based on a unified book, training teachers on religious pluralism and coexistence, and providing extracurricular activities on religious tolerance and coexistence, such as lectures and field visits.
While some of the religious figures expressed their full support for the students’ demands, others hoped that a book on religious diversity would focus on shared human values instead of theology.
Moufid Khalil, the representative of Sheikh Abdel-Amir Qabalan, said that although students should get to know the country’s different religions, a unified religious education book should focus on the human values which these religions share.