Held at the Institute of Education, the Books for Schools national launch proved to be a real milestone in paving the way for authentic and accurate educational resources to be used in schools throughout Britain to facilitate the teaching of Islam within RE.
|`It is only through understanding that this country can move forward as a true multi-faith and multicultural society'
Charles Clarke, Secretary for Education & Skills
Delegates from a variety of educational backgrounds were represented, including government bodies, SACRE (Standing Advisory Committees on Religious Education), Local Educational Authorities (LEAs) and schools; also attending were representatives of embassies and publishing houses.
Both Manchester and Stockport LEAs - areas in which the pilot work for Books for Schools has been conducted - sent representatives to share with the audience their enthusiasm and to pledge their support for its national roll-out.
Professor Aziz Sheikh, Iqbal Sacranie and Shabana Khan, core members of the Books for Schools team, graced the stage. Their enthusiasm, sense of humour and clarity added to the sense of the occasion as they simply and very successfully shared their vision for the project.
To the delight of the packed auditorium, the Chief Guest Charles Clarke, gave the initiative his overwhelming support as a means to promote respect and understanding:
"The only way in which that can be done is through materials, knowledge, understanding, from each faith community about each faith community. And the initiative you have taken today is an absolutely tremendous example of how that has to be done."
On display were limited edition advanced preview copies of the resource packs, containing the MCBs own custom made project packs and carefully selected titles from a range of well-known publishers and accompanying artefacts. Packs were, needless to say, quickly snapped up by delegates!
The response and support received on the night was overwhelming with words of encouragement from all those present.
The initiative itself is voluntary funded, and so it was heart-warming to witness such community spirit in the venue. Muslim Aid, Islamic Relief, and Ambala Foods were amongst the many who have already offered their financial support. Also welcome was the announcement that Cheadle Muslim Association successfully raised the money to fund resource packs for half of all schools in Stockport, with Colin Manning, the representative from Stockport, announcing that Stockport LEA would match-fund so as to ensure that all primary schools in Stockport receive a resource pack.
A list of acknowledgements to key supportive players in this initiative can be downloaded from the 'Internal Links' (top-right)
For the diverse and multi-cultural society in which we live, Charles Clarke highlighted the need to understand each other, concluding: `It is only through understanding that this country can move forward as a true multi-faith and multicultural society'.
To lend your support to the project download the sponsor form on the right.