Interfaith is a subject that has to be taught very young, and
doing a yeoman service is the City Montessori School, (CMS), Lucknow. Here a typical day starts with an assembly during which
the children first sing and pray one God, irrespective of their
religious faith. Extracts of Holy Scriptures from all religions
are read and explained during the assembly.
This spiritual time is followed by an interactive discussion
between the children and their Principal or teachers about the
‘Virtue of the Month’ and the various ways to implement it on a
For each month of the year, one virtue is picked up by a ‘Board of
Virtues’. Friendliness, Justice and Truth are some examples. The
‘Virtue of the Month’ is written on the black board of the
‘It is at as early as six or seven a child should be introduced to
moral values, virtues, cultural and inter-faith diversity. The
children understand many things, but are often prêt to outside
influences’, says Archanaa Pande, Principal of the Asharfabad
In case the family environment cannot give such constructive
social education, it is the role of the school to impart some
positive influences, she explains.
The day at CMS witnesses a succession of courses with an
impressive level of enthusiasm and discipline from the pupils as
well as interaction with the teachers.
The school develops team spirit and ability to hold
responsibilities by gathering the children in four different
Houses - Hope, Love, Peace and Unity, mixing classes and ages.
These Houses have tasks to fulfill and targets to match in various
fields all the year round.
Similarly, as an introduction of each school happening, an all
religion prayer is performed by the children wearing traditional
costumes of others' religion to generate awareness, reverence and
Deepa Tiwari, Principal of CMS Rajendra Nagar -I campus, says
extracurricular activities encourage the children to be creative
and to remain in a constant learning mode. It goes from a Book
Fair Exhibition with books written by the children, to cultural
dance performances, plays, seminars, competitions, and religious
festivals, she says.
CMS also familiarizes the children with Indian and international
personalities who contributed to the social growth and progress of
the world so that they can become a real source of inspiration.
Each year, CMS organizes a series of activities to celebrate the
World Interfaith Harmony Week. Each day comes with an event that
encourages not only the pupils but also their parents to share and
engage with others. There is a time for shared meals, exchange of
cards between the children, singing, dance and quiz competitions
involving the parents.
With the same purpose, Dr. Jagdish Gandhi, the founder of CMS has
invented a concept of world Parliament for children where they
become world leaders and discuss about the issues faced on the
international stage. This exercise incites the children to find
solutions and take collective action for the welfare of the
‘CMS does not content itself to provide a high-rate education, it
feels entrusted with a much broader responsibility vis-à-vis the
children. The school aims at helping the children to become
vectors of social change for a better world’, Mr. Gandhi says.
‘CMS teaches why and how to respect others in their differences
since ultimately 'God is one, Religion is one, and Mankind is
one,' he adds.
'A good teacher is like a candle, it consumes itself to light the
way of others'. These were the words written at the gates of the
Asharfabad and Rajendra Nagar-I, Campuses of the City Montessori
School in Lucknow, says Muriel Potherat, Project Manager of a
Delhi-based NGO promoting interfaith harmony and called Faith
Matters, who attended an International Conference on Promoting
Interfaith Harmony organized by CMS’s Asharfabad Campus in July
2012 and was later there for a three-day training and observation
This eye-catching quote is one among many others promoting a
spiritual education, human virtues as well as oneness of God and
mankind. It is even more mesmerizing to realize that these words
do not only hang beautifully on the walls of CMS, they are
mirrored in the daily schedule of the children, says Muriel, who
works with students at enhancing interaction and respect between
When I saw many performances of the children showcasing an
inspiring model of interfaith harmony, I realized that as a child
I never had such an experience during my school days, the social
worker, who hails from France, said.
A child is both a hope and a promise for mankind and I can affirm
with much admiration that CMS gives more than full justice to
these words. I could figure out how much level of expertise CMS
has developed in this field as it equips the children with the
required means to overcome the continuous challenges of life and
make a difference in the world. It’s not mere education, rather a
way of life. And each one at CMS believes in it with humility and
conviction, concluded Muriel.
As Indians if we like to pursue the philosophy of unity in
diversity and relish the idea that our country never faces the
scourge of communal riots, then City Montessori School, Lucknow is
a role model for such nation building. It would be a beautiful
dream to see each school of the country trying the CMS model of
interfaith harmony and prepare the tiny tots how to live in peace
Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be
contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org