“Experience tells us that people are not born with the innate ability nor the wish to see the Other as an equal individual in society. Pluralism is a value that must be taught.”
His Highness the Aga Khan, April 2008
The year 2020 marked the 75th anniversary of the United Nations and its founding Charter. The United Nations serves as a global forum working to maintain international peace and security, protect human rights, deliver humanitarian aid, promote sustainable development and uphold international law. In acknowledgement of the United Nations, the Nursery and Primary sections of the Aga Khan School in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania held a special event in October 2020, where the importance of multiculturalism, acceptance and friendship were celebrated.
The event was an opportunity for students to experience the rich, diverse and colourful cultures within their school, their local communities and the world at large, and better understand the strength of our pluralistic societies. Students and teachers wore traditional clothing and celebrated one another as they participated in a parade of nations. The day also generated curiosity and gave students the chance to ask questions and learn about the differences that they see and experience. Many students spoke about their countries of origin, ranging from the geographic locations, their leaders, their food to the meaning behind the colours on their country’s flags.
The Aga Khan Schools have always promoted an understanding of pluralism, so that students can become more comfortable and knowledgeable about the world around them. The timing of the United Nations Day celebrations was opportune and reflected what the students had been learning in the classroom. The KG2 level students had just completed their unit on celebrations whilst the KG3 level students had completed their unit on relationships. Both of these units focused on identifying characteristics that make individuals unique, whilst acknowledging that even though we are different, our connections to one another add value to our lives.
The pandemic has reminded us in the most powerful way that we are all interconnected. It is only by working together that we can build resilience against challenges. By creating a common understanding, the students were able to see beyond their differences and wholeheartedly celebrate one another and their friendship – demonstrating that pluralism can be taught and achieved where there is openness.