Letters extra: education and terrorism

5th October 2001 at 01:00

We met as a group of 60 educators from five continents during an international conference in Oxford on education and development one week after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

We recognise our confusion and fear as our certainties are threatened and know that this fear is shared by learners and teachers around the world. We want to create education systems that celebrate diversity rather than narrow nationalism. We must nurture values that will both help prevent such events happening and elicit a measured response if they do.

We know that many schools are places of violence where corporal punishment is accepted. We are the teachers of the journalists and politicians who are now speaking of war. We have not managed to foster powers of analysis that would help them understand why such acts have taken place or to avoid dangerous and simplistic definitions of who is right and who is wrong.

Yet we know too that teachers can do much. We have heard stories of interfaith understanding in the schools of Birmingham and of teachers in the USA, Palestine and around the world helping children explore their fears and question the media images.

We affirm that developing values is a vital part of education and that teachers and children need to understand that there are different perceptions and different kinds of knowledge. There are small steps that we can take. We can ensure that international staff and students are welcome and valued in our institutions. We can draw on the lessons we have learnt in relation to gender and ethnicity over the past 40 years to value human diversity.nbsp;

Meanwhile, we remember those from all our countries bereaved by events in the USA or waiting in fear in Afghanistan and around the world.

Juliana Gyanwa Adu-Gyamfi, Ghana
Keisuke Ata
Beatrice Avalos-Bevan, Chile
Mark Bray, China
Birgit Brock-Utne, Norway
Martha Caddell, UK
Christopher Colclough, UK
Lynn Davies, UK
Stephen Drodge, UK
Ingemar Gustafsson, Sweden
Daun Holger, Sweden
Keith Holmes, UK
Roger Iredale, UK
Elimon Jafa, Botswana
Binod Khadria, India
Kenneth King, UK
Pravina King, UK
John Lowe, UK
Ngomana Mai, Vietnam
Fahmida Monju Majid, Bangladesh
Usarralde Maria, Spain
Kees Maxey, UK
Rob McBride, UK
Simon McGrath, UK
Malcolm Mercer, UK
Caroline Nursey, UK
Anna Obura, Kenya
William Ozanne, UK
Elizabete Pereira, Brazil
Rosemary Preston, UK
Clinton Robinson, UK
Jacob Ross, UK
Luia Salazar, Colombia
Michael Samuel, South Africa
Brigitte Smit, South Africa
Janet Stuart, UK
Chie Takahashi, Japan
Hozua Tamas, Hungary
Liz Thomson, UK
Jandhyala Tilak, India
Katarina Tuinamuana, Fiji
Kees van den Bosch, The Netherlands
Arnold van der Zanden, The Netherlands
K van Dongen, The Netherlands
Clara Venema, The Netherlands
Ros Wade, UK
Roy Williams, UK
Yumiko Yokozeki, Ghana

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