The Context for JustUs
Importantly the argument that education should strive to tackle the issues underlying conflict was understood in the philosophy underpinning the new curriculum framework for Northern Ireland published between 2001 and 2003.
At primary level, this curriculum strives to build a stronger commitment to human rights values and practices from an early age aiming to,‘develop the young person as a contributor to society’.
At post primary level within the Local and Global Citizenship Curriculum it explicitly mentions that pupils should have opportunities to, ‘investigate how and why conflict, including prejudice, stereotyping, sectarianism and racism may arise in the community’. It also includes opportunities to examine key human rights commitments and investigate ways of strengthening democratic participation as an alternative to violence. Additionally the commitment to citizenship at this level permeates three other areas of learning within the curriculum.
- English & Media affords opportunities through the inclusion of texts relating to the conflict and more specifically its statutory requirements at Key Stage 3 indicate that pupils should have opportunities to, ‘use… drama or the moving image to explore others’ needs and rights, for example, participate in a role play involving conflicting rights.’
- Within the History strand of Environment & Society its statutory requirements at Key Stage 3 indicate that pupils should have opportunities to, ‘investigate the past and its impact on our world today through an understanding of: different perspectives and interpretations…’
- Equally within the Arts area of learning pupils should, ‘Explore how drama is used to educate about and resolve issues of social concern’.
The importance of such work extending beyond the formal sector is reinforced by the Department of Education’s 2011 consultation document, Community Relations, Equality and Diversity in Education (CRED)., which has since been adopted as Departmental policy. This states that a renewed emphasis of the policy must:
"continue to be on addressing the preconceptions, distrust and divisions within our society, whilst broadening the scope of children and young people to understand and deal with difference in whatever form including religious, gender, sexual orientation, disability or political affiliation. The new policy must be premised on equality, human rights, the UNCRC, and reflect commitments made as part of the Good Friday and St. Andrews Agreement."
"embrace the complex, interrelated and significant backdrop of political, societal and educational change, many aspects of which will result in more effective joined-up working between governments and communities, and between and across school sectors, early years providers and the youth service."
The JustUs Project is consistent with all of the above.