Report by Nabeela Ali, Chairperson AMAN
Children have been given tons of confidence through this public speaking competition – Steve Ashman, Chief Constable Northumbria Police
‘Anti-Radicalization Mentoring and Awareness Network (AMAN) project was set up in the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo attacks in January 2015 to safeguard school-age children, young people and adults from extremist ideologies and promotion of fundamental British values as universal human ethos. While building resilience against extremism, AMAN also believes that a strong sense of belonging and civic responsibility among our youth is imperative to foster cohesive and integrated communities.
With these objectives in the sight, AMAN has organised a series of Public Speaking Competitions named “Debating British Value” for creating awareness about the threats of rising extremism in relation to peace and harmony among the communities in Newcastle. These events shall take place at primary, secondary and tertiary educational institutions to safeguardour youth against all sorts ofextremist ideologies’ said Nabeela Ali, Chairperson AMAN.
The first event of the series took place on Wednesday 30th November at Westgate Hill Primary School. A diverse audience of children, parents, educationalists, inter-faith leaders and community activists, representatives from the civic centre and third sector organizations attended the event.
Year 6 students belonging to five different schools spoke about the issues of racism, violence, bullying, anti-social behaviour and intimidation as the causes of community segregation. They also highlighted that harmonious co-existence in a multi-cultural society could be achieved by following the fundamental British values of mutual respect, tolerance, rule of law, democracy and individual liberties”.Children’s performances were evaluated by a panel of judges consisting of Matthew Waterfield [Head of School at Emmanuel College], Cllr. Irim Ali [Councillor for Wingrove Ward] and Anam Rouf [Head Girl at Excelsior Academy]. Iqra Ali from Mooreside Primary School won the third place while Georgia McVay from Walkergate Primary School earned the 2nd position. Team from St. Paul’s CE Primary consisting of FarellKwekam and Anthony Wood received the trophy for the 1st position.
Northumbria Police Chief Mr. Steve Ashman, Chief Guest of the event congratulated AMAN project for bringing various schools together. ‘IT has been a fantastic event. Parents and teachers should be proud at what children as young as in year 6 have achieved – you have given tons of confidence to the children through this event’ he stated.
Commenting afterwards, Alderman Sajawal Khan commended the work of AMAN project. ‘We live in a multicultural society and it is very important for the children to understand and learn to live together as one nation. AMAN is doing a great service to the cause of community cohesion by holding such events’, he added.
Patrick Wilkins, Executive Headteacher, The Federation of Arthur’s Hill Primary Schools highlighted the uniqueness of the event and noted ‘We had really thoughtful, well presented arguments with young students bringing in statistics and a lot of their own opinions about the issues; and everybody here believed that we need more events like this in future’.
AMAN Chairperson, Nabeela Ali hoped that more schools would participate in the upcoming event in March 2017 as their participation would help them to meet the obligations under Prevent Duty Guidance 2015 which requires that “schools should provide opportunities where children and young people understand and discuss sensitive topics, including terrorism and the extremist ideas that are part of terrorist ideology, and learn how to challenge these ideas”.
At AMAN we believe in creating tangible impact and it is more than likely that students who participated in today’s competition have built their confidence to discuss sensitive subjects amongtheir peers and become more resilient to extremist ideologies, she concluded.
More images from the event: