SOCIAL and educational policy relating to diversity should be developed to encourage deeper engagement between different ethnic and faith communities, a new report from the Three Faiths Forum (3FF), published this week, says.
The report, Encountering Faiths and Beliefs: The role of intercultural education in schools and communities, argues for a shift from multiculturalism that results in communities’ living side by side but separately, with little real contact and understanding. Instead, it sets out a framework for intercultural education where students not only recognise commonalities, but "engage in tough conversations about difference".
After an earlier 3FF publication, Beyond RE, the new report says that schools should go beyond teaching the commonalities between religions. Instead, they should "equip pupils with the language to explore challenging questions; not just learn facts about religious beliefs, but what it is like to live with them".
Dr Mark Chater, director of Culham St Gabriel Trust, which helped fund the production of both reports, said that together they were an important contribution to religious education and diversity in schools.
The chief education officer of the Church of England, the Revd Nigel Genders, said that the arguments were a further illustration of the crucial need to equip young people with real understanding of the range of beliefs: "Report after report highlights the need for students to engage with faith and belief as part of their development."