The British Ministry of Education has launched a website to fight against extremism, announced UK Education Secretary Nicky Morgan, in an effort to curb growing concerns over radicalized youth.
The aim of the “educate against hate” site is to advise parents and school officials on preventing all forms of extremism. It will also give useful information on how to identify potential signs of danger, behavioral changes in children and measures that parents can take if needed. Morgan announced the website launch during a speech at Bethnal Green Academy in London, the institution attended by three young girls who escaped to Syria last Friday.
Peter Wanless, CEO of The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), welcomed the idea. He said that NSPCC received numerous daily calls from worried parents and pupils on all extremism-related issues. According to Wanless, the website will help parents identify the “tell-tale signs of exploitation”, writes Sean Coughlan of the BBC.
Morgan admitted that the finding balance between preventing extremism and allowing a public discussion with challenging ideas was not easy.
“It requires judgement – but just as we must be absolutely clear that we should never give those who peddle extremist ideologies’ entry into our schools or colleges, so too we must guard against inadvertently hiding young people from views which we simply think are wrong and disagree with.”
Additionally, as reported by Laura Hughes of The Telegraph, Morgan confirmed the schools could independently decide to stop Muslim girls from covering their faces. She also pointed out that it was important for children to be able to see their teacher’s face and mouth. Her comments came right after the observation of Ofsted inspectors who found out that covering was sometimes causing communication issues in the classroom.
As noted by Jack Doyle of The Daily Mail, Morgan criticized universities for allowing terrorist supporters to spread extremism across campuses while restricting legitimate free speech. She once again emphasized that groups like Cage, who were caught targeting Muslims during numerous students’ events, had no place in British universities. Cage gained attention earlier this year when it referred to infamous ISIS terrorist “Jihadi John” as “a beautiful young man”.
Cage also tried to invite extremist speakers to an event in a British primary school.
According to Morgan, there is a growing tendency for limiting the debate and free speech on campuses in the country. She gave as an example the feminist Germaine Greer, who was pressed to give up on her speech at Cardiff University last year because of her views on transsexuals. Research published in the Times revealed that more than half of student unions banned speakers. Morgan added:
‘I hold no truck with the move on some campuses to limit debate and ban those with offensive rather than extremist views.Far better I think to tackle Germaine Greer’s wrong-headed views about gender identity in open debate.’
The education secretary also confirmed that the government will undertake stricter measures to address schools operating illegally. She assured that although the state still did not have “full data” on those schools, it would take a “tougher approach” to prevent their founding and proliferation. Sputnik reports that two years ago the government discovered a plot in numerous public schools in Birmingham that promoted radical Islam. Michael Gove, who served as Education Secretary at that time, committed to all schools in the UK promoting traditional British values such as tolerance and fairness.