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Tony Blair wants one world under malaria

Can malaria be effectively used to combat terrorism? Strange as that might sound, that is exactly what is under experimentation by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, reports Sujata Anandan.

world Updated: Feb 16, 2010 01:01 IST
Sujata Anandan

Can malaria be effectively used to combat terrorism? Strange as that might sound, that is exactly what is under experimentation by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

After ceasing to be premier, Blair, who was always interested in bringing people of different religions together, set up the TonyBlairFaithFoundation which has a project underway in Asian and African countries which hopes to achieve just that.

But the experiment is not about any kind of bacterial or germ warfare. The TBFF has undertaken to ‘catch ‘em young’ — children of different faiths, of school age, from countries as diverse as India, U.S., UK, Canada and other African and Asian nations and “mix them all up together’’.

That is done with the aid of video conferencing among schools across the world but some older groups of them are also selected to work shoulder to shoulder fighting malaria and other basic diseases in Africa, Asia and elsewhere in the world.

According to Annika Small, Director of Education at the TBFF, the idea of the ‘Face to faith’ programme is to make sure they work together to elevate common human misery in the hope that working in such close proximity would help to make them forget the differences brought about by religion and other divisive factors.

Already some video conferencing has happened between schools in the UK and New Delhi, the NCR and Manipur.

The TBFF is looking to expand those activities to Mumbai and the South India.

The UK is on a drive to integrate all its minorities into the mainstream and the TBFF adds to efforts like that currently underway at the Kitchener County Primary School in Cardiff, Wales, where the Head Teacher Jane Evans has put together an impressive programme of integration of children from all across the world — none of who know English, as yet.

Ranging from the ages of three to 10, they come from all continents, are allowed to wear their traditional costumes (there is even a little Indian girl called Preetha here, all of three and in a salwar kameez) and the concentration is mainly on the three ‘R’s. They may leave this school later for other schools run by their own faith.

“But many of them return,’’ says Evans, proudly. “Many parents prefer our way of teaching to those at faith schools.’’

There are many older and even adult British citizens, particularly from Pakistan and Bangladesh, who are a great cause for worry. The latter particularly fail all their grades and large numbers of them are unfit to integrate into British society.

They are now being taken care of by organisations like the Runnymede Trust and the Aik Saath (Together) foundation which help them get degrees —and integrate into an increasingly suspicious British society which is nevertheless bending over backwards to help them become part of the mainstream.

As Dr Omar Khan of the Runnymede Trust says, “It is important to belong.’’ And the British government, clearly, is determined that they will.