Thousands of learners benefit from a much needed cultural diversity program

The South African Jewish Museum offers a religious and cultural diversity program to learners from Grade 5 to Grade 8. Thousands of learners from approximately fifty schools from the Cape Flats region attended the program during 2018.

The program content is designed to create tolerance and an understanding of religious and cultural diversity, which is greatly needed amongst our youth.

On 17 January 2019 Mr Riyaadh Najaar, former principal of Spine Road High School, joined Grade 8 learners from Windsor High School on the excursion. When asked for his comments on the excursion, Mr Najaar said, “It was truly a great educational experience. The values taught to the youth will stand them in good stead throughout their lives in this intolerant world. The program has great holistic development elements and reminds our learners about the importance of showing appreciation and compassion, tolerance to religious difference and the acceptance of cultural diversity, specially to display sensitivity and understanding to the differences in religion and belief.”

Belinda Selikowitz, the Program Manager explained with great excitement that the program:
• Has been enthusiastically endorsed by the Western Cape Education Department
• Relates directly to the Life Skills and Life Orientation Curricula

The 4-hour excursion is free of charge to all schools, and includes full facilitation and a healthy snack pack for learners plus refreshments for teachers. In addition, bus transport is sponsored for disadvantaged schools. Donations are welcome to support visits from less privileged schools.
Belinda explained that the program uses games, group discussion and hands-on activities to expose learners to the ideas of religious diversity, multiculturalism and respect. In groups, learners move between four facilitated “stations” that encourage active learning, dialogue, and critical thinking. At the end, all learners and facilitators come together to reflect on their experience.
Themes that are addressed include:
• The main religions of the world
• Prejudice and discrimination
• Xenophobia
• Bullying
• Religious and cultural tolerance
• District Six and Jewish history
• Personal values

Aims of the program:
• To create an understanding, gain knowledge and an appreciation of religious and cultural diversity within our society. (Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Baha’i Faith, and Traditional African Religion).
• To appreciate the commonalities between different cultural and religious groups.
• To respect the dignity, rights and values of people from different religions and cultures.
• To instil an appreciation of human rights, inclusivity, diversity, social justice and responsibilities of citizens in a democracy.
• To break down stereotypes and promote harmonious relationships.
• To care for people, demonstrate acts of kindness and consider the needs of others.
• To discuss the cultural rites of passage (birth, baptism, wedding and death, and the meaning and significance of each stage).
• Provide an opportunity for learners to develop beneficial social interactions
• To promote social activism and contribute towards social cohesion and nation building.

Zaida Julius, the PPA Administrator who manages the PPA school bookings, says that over the past 18 months many schools attended the excursion and that it has added great value to the lives, values and holistic development of the learners. The Progressive Principals’ Association (PPA) would like to thank the management of the SA Jewish Museum for granting our learners this great opportunity.

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