Two of our Year 6 school council representatives at Stonyhurst St Mary’s Hall (SMH), took part in two inter-school dialogues via Zoom with pupils from Jesuit Schools in Malta, Italy and Ireland.
The children taking part with us were from Scoil Iognaid in Galway, Ireland, Gonzaga International School in Palermo, Sicily and St Aloysius’ Malta, who facilitated this online gathering.
Together, they explored how the Red Chair Campaign aims to raise awareness of the many children globally without access to education. The Red Chair Project has been established at the school in Malta for a few years. This initiative is not directed towards fundraising but towards raising awareness.
Our experiences during the pandemic have helped to bring this issue into sharp focus. Short presentations from each school, were shared on how this affected their own educational experiences and the changes to school life. In breakout rooms, they explored with other children the following questions: Was there a time when something was uncertain for you? How did you react? What did you learn from this situation?
Many had felt uncertain as to how learning would continue, how to use online platforms, when they would see family members again and for one, coping with a change to a new school at the same time. Some coped with a “wait and see” attitude, others asked for help from teachers/family and one child finished the days, early on in the pandemic, sad and tearful. Children learned that even when things felt uncertain, gradually and with the support of those around them, day to day life did become clearer. They learned new skills with the help of others and found ways around some of the difficulties and obstacles.
Today, education remains an inaccessible right for millions of children around the world. More than 72 million children of primary education age are not in school and 759 million adults are illiterate and do not have the awareness necessary to improve both their living conditions and those of their children. https://www.humanium.org/en/right-to-education/
There were many similarities and a few differences in what had been experienced at these four Jesuit schools. It was noted that learning outdoors was a more likely option in Palermo and Malta than it was in the west of Ireland and Lancashire!
After the meeting, all the participating children completed an online survey about the changes that COVID 19 has brought to home and school life.
The dialogue continued with a second meeting when we considered things from a global perspective: how can we be active in promoting good and inclusive education around the world?
All the pupils submitted reports on their experience of this Red Chair Dialogue. We hope to implement the Red Chair Project at SMH and raise awareness of those without access to education, in the next academic year.