Channel (See link above) was first piloted in 2007 and rolled out across England and Wales in April 2012. Channel is a programme which focuses on providing support at an early stage to people who are identified as being vulnerable to being drawn into terrorism. The programme uses a multi-agency approach to protect vulnerable people by: a identifying individuals at risk; b. assessing the nature and extent of that risk; and c. developing the most appropriate support plan for the individuals concerned.
The report suggests that that following supports for vulnerable youth should be considered appropriate: a. Mentoring support contact – work with a suitable adult as a role model or providing personal guidance, including guidance addressing extremist ideologies; b. Life skills – work on life skills or social skills generally, such as dealing with peer pressure; c. Anger management session – formal or informal work dealing with anger; d. Cognitive/behavioural contact – cognitive behavioural therapies and general work on attitudes and behaviours; e. Constructive pursuits – supervised or managed constructive leisure activities; f. Education skills contact – activities focused on education or training; g. Careers contact – activities focused on employment; h. Family support contact – activities aimed at supporting family and personal relationships, including formal parenting programmes; i. Health awareness contact – work aimed at assessing or addressing any physical or mental health issues; j. Housing support contact – activities addressing living arrangements, accommodation provision or neighbourhood; and k. Drugs and alcohol awareness – substance misuse interventions
The above approach to counter-terrorism is based on a security approach however there is renewed emphasis in the role of education in tackling the causes of terrorist radicalisation. There is an ambivalent relationship between education and radicalisation, although individuals with little education are more likely to join terrorist groups, research shows the educated are more prone to to violence as education provides expectations in terms of prestige or materialism that are not always met in today’s world and terrorist groups are more likely to attempt to attract skilled people with for example, an engineering background.
Many measures used so far in Europe focus on identifying individuals or groups who might be prone to radical attitudes, rather than investing in prevention.
The emphasis on identifying vulnerable youth can actually have a negative effect when children or students may become afraid to share their views for fear of being seen as different or having radicalised views. They are more likely then to keep quite and go underground. Schools should be a safe place where ideas can be openly discussed and allow students the freedom to develop skills of critical thinking and the ability to engage with diverse views that can help them to resist radicalisation. Schools should be where children test out their ideas and engage with diversity, autonomy, empathy, both with their peers and with their teachers. Schools must allow students to experience life in complex scenarios and provide them will skills for living in their diverse communities. The role of the school is crucial in preventing radicalisation since families are often no longer tied to social networks and communities that provide children with values, social experiences or the opportunity to play social roles. It is therefore paramount that schools provide this function. As Dewey recognised ‘I believe that education is a process of living and not a preparation for future living”. Dewey (1897, p.78) 1
Professor Richardson, vice chancellor of the University of Oxford, stated “Any terrorist I have ever met through my academic work had a highly over simplified view of the world, which they saw in black and white terms. Education robs you of that simplification and certitude. Education is the best possible antidote to radicalisation…. that it was also vital that radical thought – which she said should not be confused with violent radicalisation – was allowed and fostered in universities…The idea that the world was round was once a radical idea. It’s imperative we have a place that ideas can be challenged, and universities are the perfect place for that.” 2
However, education is a broad term and if defined in terms of a restricted economic view as “training in a skill” is no guarantee of extending horizons beyond black and white which Professor Richardson alludes to. Education in all disciplines, including engineering, science, accountancy etc. must include humanities, social science and peace studies where the skills of critical, ethical and reflective thinking are fostered. Schools and universities must let go of their narrow economic perspective on life and go back to their roots and be place where values are openly discussed and criticised, places where non-traditional views can be expressed and not repressed. Teaching peace values and allowing schools and universities to be places where identities are formed through the process of dialogue will allow young people to negotiate their life choices when they will be confronted with ideologies and different forms of peer and social pressures.
Educational institutions must embrace a hospitality in which there is an openness to ideas or in the Derrridean sense : “The other may come, or he may not. I don’t want to programme him, but rather to leave a place for him to come if he comes. It is the ethic of hospitality.” 3
In an ethic of hospitality education must be constructed in such a way as to leave space for those students and those ideas that may arrive. This may seem like an absurd demand: if they may (or may not) arrive, how do we know who or what they are and what kind of space we should leave for them? Indeed, we cannot know who or what may arrive into our classrooms, our staff rooms, our curricula; the only questions we can therefore ask are: Does what I am about to do leave a possibility for my assumptions about knowledge and teaching and learning to be upset by a new arrival? Does it close down a space for future questioning or questioners? 4
1 Dewey, J. My Pedagogic Creed, School Journal vol. 54 (January 1897), pp. 77-80
2. British Council, “Education Is Best Possible Antidote.”
3. Derrida, “A Word of Welcome,” pp99.
4. Ruitenberg, CW. Philosophy of Education Society Urbana, Illinois The Empty Chair 2011
Recommended reading and websites;
EUROCLIO. “Manifesto for Education: Empowering Educators and Schools.” European Association of History Educators. 14 March 2016. http://euroclio.eu/2016/03/european-commissions- radicalisation-awareness-network-education-meets-goteborg/manifesto-for-education-empowering- educators-and-schools/.
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). “UNESCO Launches Teacher’s Guide on the Prevention of Violent Extremism.” Education Sector Press Release. 4 May 2016. http://www.unesco.org/new/en/education/resources/online-materials/single- view/news/unesco_launches_teachers_guide_on_the_prevention_of_violent_extremism/#.V6R6uPl96 M8.
UK Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills. “Counter Extremism : The Role of Further Education Providers in Promoting Community Cohesion, Fostering Shared Values and Preventing Violent Extremism: Consultation Document.” 2008. https://www.counterextremism.org/resources/details/id/46/the-role-of-further-education-providers-in- promoting-community-cohesion-fostering-shared-values-and-preventing-violent-extremism- consultation-document.
Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force. “Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism.” United Nations, April 2016. https://www.un.org/counterterrorism/ctitf/en/plan-action-prevent-violent- extremism.
CP Crean, Tutor- ARLT Foundation
We are presently taking enrolment for the Dip. Soc Stds.(Couns)- tutor assisted e-learning programme. I am a tutor on the programme visit: www.arlt-foundation.org if you think you would like to participate or know more about it.