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Tony Blair Urges Support for Youth Tolerance Programs



From VOA Learning English, this is the Education Report.

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has urged governments around the world to support tolerance programs for young people. Such programs teach respect for differences of opinion and behavior between races, cultures and religious groups. Mr. Blair said that these programs make it possible for students to accept people who are different from themselves.

The former British leader described education in the 21st century as a security issue. He spoke last month at a meeting of the Counter-Terrorism Committee of the United Nations Security Council. The former prime minister currently heads the Tony Blair Faith Foundation. The group seeks to help prevent prejudice, conflict and extremism. It operates tolerance programs in more than 1,000 schools worldwide.

Mr. Blaid the world faces extremism based on what he called a perversion of religious belief. He said this way of thinking abuses religion to justify violence. The former prime minister said belonging to a group can provide a sense of identity. But he believes that a misguided sense of belonging can make people think of others who are different as opponents.

The Tony Blair Foundation has operated the Face to Faith school programs for four years. It now reaches 50,000 students between the ages of 12 and 17. Some of the students live in Western countries, such as Australia, Canada, Italy and the United States. Others live in Egypt, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Pakistan and the Philippines. Mr. Blair urged governments to start many more tolerance programs. He said his foundation is willing to work in any country that invites it. For VOA Learning English, I'm Laurel Bowman.