Education is the most powerful tool for shaping our future. It can influence diplomatic relations and even prove instrumental in counter-terrorism. Consequently, we must continue to ask: is it being used properly?
The Education Policy Centre will focus on how education can facilitate cultural cohabitation in multicultural societies while improving the overall learning experience. Globalisation is pulling communities together faster than governments can prepare for, and their inability to create an environment conducive to multicultural integration has led to severe ramifications. These effects are often exacerbated by a lack of mutual understanding and near-absence of intercultural dialogue. We aim to demonstrate how education can cultivate this awareness, improving societies’ standards of living and benefitting students’ experiences from nursery to university.
Through in-depth research into contemporary policy and contexts that shape education, we hope to cover a range of topics. This scope will vary from language policy’s dismissive attitude towards modern foreign language teaching in the UK, in contrast with the prevalence of ELT in other European countries, to the challenging of existing policies such as The Prevent Strategy. Since 2008, teachers were encouraged, and then legally obliged, to report children whom they thought were vulnerable to radicalisation. Poor training led to students being unnecessarily reported and interrogated without parental consent for as little as, Rights Watch UK noted, mispronouncing words and clothing choices. The discourse around this initiative must be contested; what exactly is it this strategy is trying to ‘prevent’? Should policy focus, instead, on a more constructive approach to intercultural relations—to ‘educate’?
Recent political turmoil in the EU has only exemplified why the latter approach may be more appropriate moving forward. Hence, we will examine contemporary issues in education, making them both relevant and accessible through events and workshops throughout the year. In addition, we will keep you informed on the big topics surrounding this debate via the King’s Think Tank blog, including trying to work out what will happen to the Erasmus grant.
We cannot afford to lose these international opportunities. A greater understanding and experience of other cultures fosters mutual respect and allows us a greater degree of self-reflection with regard to cultural identity. This complements research suggesting students feel more empowered to succeed when in a learning environment that respects their culture. Surely this should be reflected in the curriculum? Our recommendations aim to develop cultural competencies in society. If successful, it could not only prove beneficial to national and international students in the UK, but could also help cultivate healthy intercultural dialogue, in turn creating a new generation of students who are all global citizens.
To succeed it is imperative that all voices are heard in this debate, so if you would like to support or be involved in our work, please contact us at:
Education Policy Centre President