Critical Thinking and Secular Ethics in Cambodia

with Atheist Alliance International President Carlos Diaz in Dublin, Ireland
with Atheist Alliance International President Carlos Diaz in Dublin, Ireland

While in attendance at the Empowering Women Through Secularism conference in Ireland, I met Carlos Diaz — President of Atheist Alliance International (AAI) (and a great candidate for a long-lost twin brother) — who was very friendly and extremely approachable. Diaz responded to an e-mail I sent him with hopes to meet in Dublin…and he obliged.

Throughout our weekend conversations, Diaz informed me of a fundraiser sponsored by AAI which hopes to fund a pilot project – an educational initiative titled “Critical Thinking and Secular Ethics Program.” AAI has already pledged $2241 — half of the funds needed for the program — and is asking supporters to fund the remaining half to reach the ‘tipping point’.

At the time of this piece being published, nine hours remain in the project’s fundraising period with $643 needed from donors. Can you help children in Cambodia by funding, promoting, and supporting this initiative spearheaded by AAI?

Following is more information about the project — including a video — from the fundraiser’s page:

Critical Thinking and Secular Ethics Project from CTSE Project on Vimeo.

Our mission is to teach children not what to think, but how to think.

If we teach children everything we know, their knowledge is limited to ours. If we teach children to think, their knowledge is limitless.

At The Cambodian Children’s Trust (CCT) we strive to give vulnerable Cambodian children the best chance at leading a happy, fulfilling, and successful life. Succeeding in life depends on our ability to solve the problems we encounter along the way. 

Theravada Buddhism is (supposedly) practiced by around 95% of the Cambodian population. In reality however, behind the doors of Khmer Temples there lies belief in superstitions, with rituals, spirits, ghosts, gods, and sorcerers, which, it can be argued, injects immeasurable stress and fear into the lives of most Cambodians. In a country where corruption is widespread and 40% of the population live below the poverty line, it is vital that Cambodia’s children, its future leaders learn how to think for themselves, how to reason and how to be ethical and moral citizens. The future of Cambodia depends on it.598489_145134828980133_1217736352_n

We will teach them to question. We will show them how to work out what is ethical or unethical (or somewhere in between). We will teach them to be able to identify flaws in arguments. We will educate them about the major religions and, with the skills they develop in this course, enable them to make up their own minds.

Studying ethics and philosophy will give children skills to use good thinking as the guide by which they live their lives.

You can find out more about the project and to keep up with what we’re doing, including the latest blog posts, on the website at welearn2think.org

You can also connect with us via social media at the following links:

Twitter: http://twitter.com/CTSEproject

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/CTSEproject

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/CTSEproject

Tipping Point Goal: $2,241

Total Funding Goal: $6,723

This funding will help cover the costs of the pilot program (volunteer teacher’s flight, travel insurance, accommodation and living expenses in Cambodia, a Khmer trainee and teaching resources such as books, teaching aids etc for the students) and fund the continuation of the Critical Thinking and Secular Ethics Program through to late 2013.  

Raising the tipping point amount of $2241 will pay for 50% of the pilot project, the remainder has already been funded by Atheist Alliance International.

Reaching the total funding goal would enable us to fund the project through late 2013.

Our ongoing goal for the project is to raise money each year to pay for a Khmer teacher and teaching assistant at a local salary plus any ongoing resources the students will need. Assuming the Program continues to be successful, we plan to put in place ongoing fundraising for 2014 and beyond.

Thank you!

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As always, feel free to comment below and visit the fundraiser’s page.