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School of the Nations Joins the Campaign Paint the Change - Education Is Not a Crime

School of the Nations' ninth and tenth graders are involved in a beautiful cross-curricular project involving Arts and Moral Education that is part of the international campaign Paint the Change - Education Is Not a Crime. This is the first work of art in the campaign done by a group and not an individual. See the video of the process of creation of the artwork.

The Campaign: The campaign Education Is Not a Crime was idealized by the highly respected Muslim journalist, Maziar Bahari, who spent five years in the Evin prison, in Tehran, for his involvement in social causes. The project aims to highlight the situation of Bahá'í youth who are deprived of education in Iran, and the teachers who are prevented from teaching based on their religious beliefs. In 2014, Bahari produced a documentary about the persecution of Bahá'ís in Iran, which carried the same name as the campaign in Brazil.

"Many people are learning from Bahá'ís," said Bahari when the documentary was launched, in February 2014. "In the past, we Iranians were indifferent about the suffering of the Bahá'ís. International events and campaigns are tools to not only call attention to this injustice that has been happening in Iran for many decades, but also to promote positive changes," declared the moviemaker.

The chapter Paint the Change uses urban art as a channel to express the global concern around the deprivation of access to education. The first panels were painted in the beginning of September in New York by artists from many different parts of the world, in preparation for the General Assembly of the United Nations, which will vote for a new resolution on the situation of human rights in Iran. The panel displayed at the main gate of our school was designed by Grade 9 and 10 students as a contribution to the project.

The campaign is supported by renowned personalities, including the archbishop Desmond Tutu and the lawyer Shirin Ebadi, winners of the Nobel Peace Prize, as well as Hollywood actors such as Mark Ruffalo and Rainn Wilson.

The Event: On November 6, the external dome of the National Museum will show a major projection of images as part of the Brazilian campaign. Works of arts were selected from among productions of local artists and images that portray the right to education. Under the organization of curators Siron Franco and Bené Fonteles, the projection will start at 7 p.m. and with the participation of all artists who joined the campaign and musical attractions such as DJ Ops (Sistema Criolina) and Vavá Afiouni Trio.

Testimonial: Hasti Khoshnam, a thirty-five year-old Iranian woman, has lived in Brazil since 2002 and works as an English Teacher at School of the Nations. Similar to thousands of young adults in Iran, Hasti was deprived from studying at university in her country, because she is Bahá'í. In Iran, the students are required to declare his or her religion when applying to the university. Hasti filled out the form when taking the test but, when she received her confirmation letter, she realized that her religion had been changed to Muslim. "When I returned to the university and reported that my application had a mistake, they quickly took my letter back and I never again had the opportunity to take the test again," said Hasti.

The young Bahá'í went through a rigorous selection and managed to graduate with an English Language major, at the Bahá'í Institute of Higher Education (BIHE), an initiative of Bahá'í teachers who offer university level classes to students who have been deprived of education. The diploma offered by BIHE is not recognized by the Iranian government, but is accepted by many world known universities in countries such as Canada, Australia, Germany and India.

The Bahá'ís: Bahá'ís are the largest religious minority in Iran. Because it is not recognized as a religion by the State, they suffer all kinds of human rights violations. Over 200 Bahá'ís were killed between 1979 and 1987, after the Islamic Revolution, and over 100 Bahá'ís are currently under arrest solely because of their faith.

In Brazil, the Bahá'í community is made up of over 70 thousand followers. The Bahá'ís are acknowledged nationally and internationally for their initiatives in promoting the unity of humankind, non-formal education in more than 1300 local communities in all Brazilian states - and formal education in schools such as School of the Nations and other Bahá'í faith-inspired schools.

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