Promoting racial equality in schools
No young person in Scotland should be disadvantaged or bullied on the grounds of their faith or race, said Education Secretary Fiona Hyslop as proposals for Islamophobia school workshops are announced.
The Scottish Government is providing £81,700 for the delivery of 152 Islamophobia workshops in secondary schools across Scotland over the next two years.
The workshops will be delivered by Show Racism the Red Card, a charity with a proven track record of working in schools by using football as a starting point to promote racial and religious equality messages.
The programme will look at the causes and consequences of Islamophobia; encourage young people to develop good relationships with people from different backgrounds and cultures to their own; prepare pupils for life in a multifaith, multicultural world; and provide teachers with a valuable teaching resource for ongoing use in the classroom.
Ms Hyslop said:
"Scotland is a modern and diverse society where everyone must be allowed to live in peace and fulfil their potential - regardless of their background. The Scottish Government is determined to make sure that all our young people have the opportunity to learn and grow in a Scotland free from the discrimination and bigotry that inhibits personal development and blights communities.
"We are all modern Scots regardless of our race, religion or belief and the support we are providing to Show Racism the Red Card to deliver Islamophobia workshops recognises the increasingly diverse society we all share. By tackling prejudices at an early stage in life we can all work together to make sure our young people are successful learners who understand that diversity is strength not a weakness.
"Our individual backgrounds help to make Scotland a vibrant and exciting place to live and we should embrace and celebrate that diversity as united communities who will not allow prejudice to hold us back from being the nation we aspire to be."
Billy Singh, Show Racism the Red Card's Campaign Manager said:
"Islamophobia is a contemporary and emerging form of prejudice. It can be described as stereotypes, bias or acts of hostility towards individual Muslims or even those merely perceived to be Muslim. This climate of mistrust and fear leads to increased tensions between communities leading to many Muslims feeling alienated.
"We are delighted that the Scottish Government is supporting our Islamophobia work in schools. We are not intending to educate people about the Islamic religion, but to challenge myths and stereotypes and encourage people to think critically about the information that they receive.
"We will continue to challenge racism in all its many manifestations."
The Scottish Government has provided Show Racism the Red Card (SRtRC) with £465,000 over the period 2003-04 - 2008-09 to develop its work in Scotland. Funding announced today for delivering Islamophobia workshops in schools is in addition to this. SRtRC is currently in negotiations with local authorities to identify match funding for the delivery of these workshops over 2009-10 and 2010-11.
SRtRC is a UK-wide anti-racism charity whose approaches include producing anti-racist educational resources that harness the high profile of professional footballers to help combat racism. Through their varied activities with councils, schools and others, SRtRC is taking the anti racist message to schools, communities, football clubs and fans.
The Islamophobia workshops will build on SRtRC's new resource for tackling Islamophobia. The workshops can be used as a catalyst for talking sensitively and effectively about Islamophobia and allow secondary schools to be proactive in promoting racial equality by tackling a serious issue using football as a starting point. The 90 minute workshops do not intend to educate people about the Islamic religion, but to challenge myths and stereotypes and encourage people to think critically about the information that they receive.