Education is at the heart of building understanding between communities, providing people with a deeper understanding of different faiths and beliefs, and helping to develop an appreciation of common values. It also provides opportunities for people of different backgrounds and ages to interact and build positive relations. MYF pioneers itself by working with young people who are still developing their ideas and perceptions about the world they live in and the people around them. Our aim is to work with schools, higher education institutions and young people in order to maximise the benefits of education to promote integration and understanding.
The Muslim Youth Foundation strongly believes in building positive relationships between people from different backgrounds. We aim to do this through education by helping to create more opportunities for people to come together and understand what they have in common, and for people to use these shared values to develop partnerships which bring about real and positive change both within their local communities and nationally.
COMMUNITY COHESION – OUR PERCEPTION
MYF believes that we can use our shared values as a platform for which to encourage constructive dialogue and open debate on issues where there may be differences. This might typically involve people of different backgrounds and faiths coming together to discuss an issue of shared concern – such as littering and unsightly dumping of various household items on streets – and working together to achieve a positive outcome which benefits the wider local community – such as ‘keep our community tidy’ project. This model of bringing about community cohesion can also be utlised in schools where such activities can be highly effective.
MYF recognises that there is a need to focus on what new and existing communities have in common but also to recognise the value of diversity and build strong and positive relationships between people from different backgrounds. Face to face dialogue and informative learning can help towards building an understanding of identities and appreciating others and their differences as well as their similarities.
There are 4 areas involved in community cohesion:
- School community
- Local community
- UK community
- Global community
The MYF aim is to focus on school, local and the UK communities through its various projects to help bring about integration and community cohesion.
PARTNERSHIP WITH SCHOOLS
Schools play and important role in building understanding, and through initiatives like working with faith groups and cultural centres, a greater understanding can be achieved. Every school – whatever its intake and wherever it is located – is responsible for educating children and young people who will live and work in a country which is diverse in terms of cultures, religions or beliefs, ethnicities and social backgrounds. Schools are well places to become a focal point for the local community and to foster better relationships between diverse communities. The introduction of the duty on schools to promote community cohesion recognises the good work that many schools are already doing to encourage community cohesion and aims to achieve a situation whereby children understand others, value diversity and have real and positive relationships with people from different backgrounds, and feel part of their local community.
As all children and young people can benefit from meaningful interaction, schools will need to consider how to give their pupils the opportunity to mix with and learn with, from and about those from different backgrounds, for example through links with other schools and community organisations. Through their ethos and curriculum schools can promote discussion of a common sense of identity and support diversity, showing pupils how different communities can be united by shared values and common experiences. One of the aims of the new secondary curriculum is for all young people to become responsible citizens who make a positive contribution to society and citizenship education offers opportunities for schools to promote community cohesion
As a faith organisation, the MYF represents not only a large group of the BME sector, but also a large faith group [Muslims]. Through specialising in education, the MYF contributes to the learning and development by xxx and allows us to reach all schools in the education sector including schools with:
- Predominately Muslim pupil population
- Minority of Muslim pupil population
- Muslim-only faith schools
Our unique position in reaching schools allows us to facilitate The Department for Children, Schools and Families established agency “The Schools Linking Network” by forging links with schools of all denominations [i.e. faith schools and non-faith schools] therefore enabling children from different backgrounds to develop an appreciation of both distinctiveness and shared values first hand. Linking with a school in a different context is also one practical way in which the MYF can contribute to schools meeting their role in community cohesion.
- Promote discussion of a common sense of identity and support diversity, showing pupils how different communities can be united by shared values and common experiences.
- Issues of right and wrong, and what it means to be human.
- It enhances students’ awareness and understanding of religions and beliefs, teachings, families, communities and cultures.
- Re encourages students to learn from different religions, beliefs, values and traditions, while exploring their own beliefs and questions of meaning. It challenges students to reflect on, consider, analyse, interpret and evaluate issues of truth, belief, faith and ethics and to communicate their responses.
- Re encourages students to develop their sense of identity and belonging. It enables them to flourish individually within their communities and as citizens in a diverse society.
- It enables students to develop respect for and different from their own. It particular those whose faiths and beliefs are different from their own. It promotes discernment and enables students to combat prejudice.
- Citizenship encourages them to take an interest in topical and controversial issues and to engage in discussion and debate.
- Citizenship encourages respect for different national, religious and ethnic identities. It equips pupils to engage critically with and explore diverse ideas, beliefs, cultures and identities and the values we share as citizens in the UK.
- Citizenship addresses issues relating to social justice, human rights, community cohesion and global interdependence, and encourages pupils to challenge injustice, inequalities and discrimination. It helps young people to develop critical skills, consider a wide range of political, social, ethical and moral problems, and explore opinions and ideas other than their own. They evaluate information, make informed judgements and reflect on the consequences of actions now and in the future.