Pupils from Ashfield Boys’ High School, Belfast; The High School, Ballynahinch; Parkhall Integrated College, Antrim, St Mark’s High School, Warrenpoint and St Peter’s High School, Derry have joined together to take part in an interactive learning programme aimed at tackling hate crime.
The programme, which was delivered by NEELBtv in partnership with C2k and Hewlett-Packard (HP), saw the pupils from all five schools collaborate via Northern Ireland’s online learning environment for schools called LearningNI. Together, they took part in a series of online structured learning sessions and forums in which they discussed the causes and consequences of hate crimes such as homophobia and racism, as well as transgender and disability hate crimes.
The programme culminated in the first week in June in a videoconference call with Justice Minister David Ford. Speaking to the pupils about hate crime in Northern Ireland, he said: “Hate crime is wrong and everyone has a right to live, work, socialise and attend school free from fear and prejudice. Safer and shared communities can become a reality if we all confront the prejudice and hatred within our society.
“It is clear that the pupils have a good understanding of hate crime, its impact on individuals, communities and wider society and I hope they have enjoyed the discussions and learned more about what my Department is trying to do to tackle this issue.”
According to Jimmy Stewart of C2k, “The collaborative approach has been hugely important throughout and has seen pupils from many different social and political backgrounds work together to tackle a serious issue which severely affects people right across the province on a daily basis.
“This collaboration has been enabled by the use of 21st-century technologies such as online learning and videoconferencing which are available to every pupil in Northern Ireland, and mean that there was no cost or time out of the classroom for the schools who took part.”
Ashfield Boy’s High teacher Mr Duff said: “The boys found this project interesting and engaging from start to finish. They jumped into the tasks wholeheartedly; devoting time not only in lessons but before school and during lunchtimes, and what surfaced time and time again was their disgust at hate crimes.
“They particularly enjoyed the opportunity to express their opinions and share possible solutions on hate crime online using videoconferencing and forums, in which they were very comfortable communicating.”
Peter Simpson of NEELBtv concluded by saying: “The success of this programme is as a result of strong partnerships not only between the schools but between a number of partners responsible for delivering various aspects. Our thanks therefore must go to the Justice Minister and Department of Justice, C2k, the Curriculum Advisory Teams in the five Education & Library Boards in Northern Ireland and the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).”