Tuesday, May 28, 2013

School canteens urged to serve halal food in recognition of Muslim population

MANILA, Philippines – How many schools serve their students “halal” food that Muslims are allowed to partake of under Islamic dietary guidelines?
The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) recently raised this question as it urged the education sector to help advance the government’s peace process with Muslim secessionists by teaching students to embrace “inclusivity and diversity.”
OPAPP Assistant Secretary Jennifer Oreta said the education sector should take part in the government’s efforts to attain peace in Mindanao by “changing mind-sets, breaking symbolic and imagined barriers that divide and embracing inclusivity and diversity.”
Oreta spoke recently at a conference of educators nationwide organized by the Asia-Pacific Network for International Education and Values Education (APNIEVE) at the Miriam College.
According to a statement from the OPAPP, APNIEVE is an organization that aims to promote peace, human rights, democracy and sustainable development through values education.
In her address, Oreta emphasized the need for the education of young Filipinos to embrace multiculturalism, inclusivity and diversity.
“How much of the core message of our curriculum actually promotes inclusivity and non-discrimination?” Oreta said.
Oreta noted that teachers themselves should “reevaluate the ‘data’ being taught and the ‘language’ being used” in classrooms as these “can neither encourage or prevent discrimination and exclusivity.”
For example, she said, one uses the label “Muslim terrorist” but not “Christian terrorist.”
“Perhaps that is not the intention of the message; the subliminal message that it creates is also problematic,” Oreta said.
In promoting multi-culturalism in schools, Oreta asked the teachers: “How many of our schools actually have prayer rooms for other religions? How much of our food is halal? This is what we realize when we had some of our Muslim friends come over, they can’t eat anything at the cafeteria.”
(“Halal” is an Arabic word meaning lawful or permissible. Its opposite is “haram.”)
“So again, we talk about inclusivity. We talk about non-discrimination,” Oreta said. “Sometimes we look at them as trivial but these are actually big issues.”

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