How a broken chair has brought us together: An Interschool Online Dialogue between England, Ireland, Italy and Malta

Jun 23, 2021

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Featured above: Photos taken during the online sessions

La Silla Roja, or The Red Chair Campaign, is a Jesuit global citizenship education campaign working to defend the right to education of millions of children and youth all over the world who are out of school. However, this year, due to the Pandemic, it has been quite a special year!  This year, the Red Chair has a broken leg to remind us that all education processes, and consequently, all students at every stage of their education have been affected by the pandemic.  Their right to quality and inclusive education has been greatly challenged.

“Seventy-two million children is, in my opinion, too many to leave out. I think we could help this by raising awareness that these children are out there.” – Hollie

The St Aloysius Primary School Student Council invited other Jesuit schools to a Red Chair Dialogue.  The invitation was accepted by Jesuit Schools in Galway, Ireland; Stonyhurst, UK; and Palermo, Italy (featured below).

   

Following a planning meeting virtually attended by the leaders, the students met twice online to share how their school life changed and how they had to adapt.

In the first dialogue, the Student Council of St Aloysius Primary School ( intro ppt for interested schools ) to explain the idea behind the Red Chair Campaign.  Every school then presented how their school life changed as a result of the pandemic and how they had to adapt (link to Malta’s presentation).  In breakout rooms, the students shared positive experiences and how people helped each other to cope with the different losses endured, be they academic, social or even loss of a person dear to them.  To complete the session, the students filled in an online survey which focused on more positive aspects of the pandemic.

“We have a few ideas that we would like to introduce to our school next year: there will be a red chair in each classroom and we also hope to have a week during the school year that we focus on the Red Chair” – Ms Grace, Galway.

In the second dialogue, the focus shifted on how we are going to mend the broken leg. The students discussed the way forward and what will help us to live through this pandemic, however long it may take. They also looked beyond our schools and how our school communities can help each other so everyone can get a good and inclusive quality education.

“People in the less wealthy countries need young people to come through and be clever to get them out of poverty.” – Loughlinn

As a result of this online dialogue, the students from the different countries realised how similar their experiences were, and how grateful we need to be for little things, especially those which helped build the community.  Mending the broken leg is not a simple option for students in some areas of the world.  The participating students realised that no matter what hardships they had to endure in our four countries, there are students in many countries whose right to education is simply non-existent or very limited.

“I loved this experience of doing the red chair project because it is important to realise that we are not the only people in the world and that others exist as well that need our help.” – Richard

Click on the links below to read the individual reports:

The Red Chair Project – England’s Report
The Red Chair Project – Ireland’s Report
The Red Chair Project – Italy’s Report
The Red Chair Project – Malta’s Report

“This pandemic made us more aware that we can create such exchanges through a simple online meeting. Before the pandemic we used to consider travelling to meet students from other schools in person, but this experience taught us that an online meeting is also engaging.” – Andre

Malta have been commemorating the Red Chair Campaign since 2017, but the dialogue was a good springboard for the English, Irish and Italian schools to encourage their student councils to evaluate how they can be advocates for those students around the world who are worse off than our schools.  All the participants were awarded a Certificate of Participation (featured below) and a commemorative badge (featured below).  As an immediate follow-up, all the schools were invited to pray the RED CHAIR EXAMEN as a school.

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Communications Officer Administrator
Communications Officer - St Aloysius College Malta

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