Race Equality and Education
The year 2018 is an eerily apposite year to be recalling equality issues in British history and society, and in British systems and institutions of education.
One hundred years since the Representation of the People Act 1918, and ninety since the Equal Franchise Act 1928. Seventy since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 and since the symbolic birthday of multi-ethnic Britain, that same year, with the arrival of SS Windrush.
Fifty since the assassination of Martin Luther King and since Enoch Powell’s Rivers of Blood speech in 1968.
Thirty since the Human Rights Act and the infamous Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988, and since the Fair Employment and Treatment Order (FETO) came into force in Northern Ireland, making it unlawful to discriminate on grounds of religious tradition. FETO was later amended and expanded to include other strands of equality too, and thus helped prepare for the Equality Act 2010 in England, Scotland and Wales.
And now in 2018 there is the demise, after 36 years, of a precious resource and reference point for equalities in education, the journal Race Equality Teaching (RET).
RET was founded in 1982; since 2010 has often been concerned with all the strands named in the Equality Act, not with race equality alone. Its last ever issue, after 101 previous issues, appeared in June 2018. But all issues since 2002 are now available at www.ingentaconnect.com/content/ioep/ret
Our Shared British Future
For three years, writes Guardian journalist Samanth Subramanian in autumn 2018, Miqdaad Versi has waged a quixotic – and always scrupulously courteous – campaign against the endless errors and distortions in news about British Muslims. She shows that patience and politeness can certainly be effective. Can a thousand polite complaints make a difference?
Her long and detailed article is HERE
Earlier in 2018 Versi had been involved in the compilation of a report entitled Our Shared British Future – HERE
Published by the Muslim Council of Britain, this contained the views and voices of a wide range of people ─ politicians (including Baroness Warsi, Dominic Grieve and Diane Abbott), lawyers, scholars and imams, academics and lecturers, activists and campaigners, community representatives, a chief constable, a poet ─ and from all four nations of the UK, and all parts of England.
The topics included employment, housing, the media, art and culture, education, gender, activism, loneliness, social mobility, policing, public life, Islamophobia, Islamic theology.
There were case studies and personal stories, statistics and diagrams, think pieces and practical proposals ─ about 40 different contributions altogether. The concluding contribution was a poem by Narjis Khan. Her final words were these:
How many more Mo Farahs will it take
before we can finally put an end to this debate?
We shouldn’t have to prove our worth to this nation
when most of us are only here because of colonisation.
So isn’t it time we moved on the conversation
and took ‘integration’ out of the equation?
Because ultimately in a world that’s been artificially divided
by lines on a map elsewhere decided,
all of us are just trying to improve our situation,
find a better life for ourselves and the next generation.
Surely that’s not something so controversial,
but an accepted truth, a value universal.