Ysgol Penrhyn Dewi was first introduced to Peace Mala back in January 2019. Peace Mala promotes friendship, respect and peace between people of all cultures, lifestyles, faiths, beliefs and none. As a small school on the St. David’s peninsular, this statement underpins our school ethos too, we aim to promote a caring, calm environment where everyone is valued for who they are and what they bring to our community.
During Interfaith Week, Pam Evans, the founder of Peace Mala, contacted our school with her latest piece of writing ‘Dark Skies and Rainbows’. A document concerning the resurgence in attacks by radical Islamists which has rekindled fierce debates on Islam, secularism and discrimination in France, home to Europe’s largest Muslim population. As our pupils study Islam at GCSE Level, the Religious Studies department were keen to have a discussion with our GCSE pupils and listen to their views on the rise of Islamophobia in the UK as well as France. We also wanted to introduce them to the Peace Mala project, because with so much terror, fear and ignorance surrounding Islam, education is the way forward to living in a more tolerant and accepting society.
During the lesson we discussed, as a class, the rise of Islamophobia here in the UK & France. We also watched a news report on Islamophobia in the UK, before turning to debating the issues of Islamic extremism, prejudice and discrimination. Some pupils pointed out how freedom of speech is vital and most of the students were in agreement with the French president that as it is one of our human rights, freedom of speech is needed to live in a democratic society. We then looked at footage of 9/11 and how Pam Evans founded Peace Mala in the aftermath of that event. As a class we discussed how there are some radicalised Muslims, but at the heart of Islam is the message of peace. All pupils were in agreement that education is vital to achieving peace and how ignorance and racism occurs without correct education.
The pupils thoroughly enjoyed making the Peace Mala bracelets and were able to explain the significance of the double rainbow by the end of the lesson. A lot of the pupils had difficulty in threading the final bead through, but with determination it was achievable. Some pupils linked this to how sometimes, it is very difficult to achieve peace between people, but with determination and effort it can be done.
As a school we feel the work of Peace Mala is imperative in equipping our young people with the education and understanding to recognise we are all one, and to respect all cultural and religious beliefs. We as a school are working towards our Bronze Accreditation and are excited and enthused to be affiliated with the Peace Mala Educational Project.