Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Diversity Education

A Europe wide social initiative has finally come to Cardiff. It's an EC funded training worshop under the Religious Diversity & Anti-Discrimination Training Programme. The Brussles based supporting network (CEJI) also runs trainings on Islamophobia and Anti-Semitism. These are aimed at people in secular public service organisations, and government agencies who may a limited knowledge of religious beliefs other than their own, or who may have excluded religion from their own personal conviction. The objective is to enable people to understand and respect each others convictions, especially as these may relate to issues to be dealt with at work, or in relation to public issues of current concern. The two day workshops seek to enable participants to start looking beyond their preconceptions and stereotypes regarding the beliefs of others.

In the eighties, tackling the endemic problems of institutional racism was the challenge in public life that had to be met with educational initiatives under the banner of 'racism awareness training'. Since then, development of greater awareness of gender inequality, the rights of people with disabilities and sexual orientation, has also led to consideration of how all people who are being discriminated against may be included socially. In most recent years this has led to the legislation of the 'Single Equalities Act' with a view to ensure the right treatment of all who have either been overlooked, persecuted or discriminated against. In this contect the need to develop awareneness of discrimination and how it can be countered through education has grown.

In a society marked by greater than ever religious diversity as a result of migration, and also grown seuclarity and widespread ignorance about religion and what it really represents for members of faith communities, education for diversity now embraces appreciating the wealth of different religious groups as well.

The first workshop has now taken place with eighteen participants at the Jasmine Centre in Ely. Two more are planned for November, and more next year.