Contribution of education towards national reconciliation

12 September 2018 12:00 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


Commemorating the 50th Death Anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.


Luther King Jr.


.Having a bitter experience of the thirty-year-old war, we have come to feel the need of national reconciliation. This has been so often expressed by the country’s present leaders. When discussing national reconciliation, Martin Luther King Jr., an American civil society activist, plays an important role in his views. Therefore, the purpose of this article is to look at how the education system of a country can be responded to in the exercise of national reconciliation.   

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) was an American clergyman and Nobel Prize winner and one of the principal leaders of the American civil rights movement and a prominent advocate of nonviolent protest. King’s challenges to segregation and racial discrimination in the 1950s and 1960s helped to convince many white Americans to support the cause of civil rights in the United States. After his assassination in 1968, King became a symbol of protest in the struggle for racial justice.   


They relate to educational content, language policy and teacher training


The most memorable speech of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., from his life as an activist, “I Have a Dream,” was delivered August 28, 1963 before more than 200,000 people in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. as part of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. 

The main message of the speech is that we should consolidate rights and freedom of human beings. It means every person in a society must be recognised as a human being and should have equal opportunities to education and other matters and the basis of reconciliation is equality and humanity. The sub messages of the speech are how important the principles of racial equality and nonviolent, social change, social justice, and human dignity to fulfilled Martin Luther King’s vision of the country as a place of true equality. Our world is becoming smaller and ever more interdependent with the rapid growth of technology and increasing contact between people and governments. In this light, it is important to reassess the rights and responsibilities of individuals, people and nations in relation to each other and to the world as a whole. 

King’s was a vision of a completely integrated society, a community of love and justice wherein brotherhood would be a reality in all of social life. In his mind, such a community would be the ideal corporate expression Integration, as King understood it, is much more inclusive and positive than desegregation. Desegregation is essentially negative in that it eliminates discrimination whereas desegregation can be brought about by laws; integration requires a change in attitudes. It involves personal and social relationships that are created by love and these cannot be legislated. Once segregation has been abolished and desegregation accomplished, blacks and whites will have to learn to relate to each other across those non rational, psychological barriers which have traditionally separated them in their society. His assumption that human existence is social in nature, the solidarity of the human family is the most important factor. Liberalism and individualism provided its theoretical and philosophical foundations, and nonviolence the means to attain it. A Vision of Total Relatedness with a stagnant equality of sameness Stanza of the civil rights movement’s, the concept of brotherhood to a vision of total interrelatedness and meaningful relationships with other persons. The civil rights movement provides Justice for Everyone Obviously. The mankind of the future in this moment of luminous and genuine brotherhood In King’s view, the interrelatedness of human existence means that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” 


How to respond to the ideas of Martin Luther King

The great majority of countries worldwide can be characterised as multi-ethnic or multi-cultural societies. Countries are either multi-ethnic because their societies are naturally composed of different ethnic group (majority and minority groups, including indigenous populations), or because they have experienced long-standing migration. Education systems within any country have been planed and constructed to forge identities and foster loyalties, but also have the potential or either easing or exacerbating ethnic conflict through the way, it is organized and delivered to different ethnic groups. The school is where life chances are distributed-often unequally and thus may either favour or hamper social mobility of different ethnic groups. 


 It is important to reassess the rights and responsibilities of individuals


This is why the policy forum explored three different models of organising education systems for addressing ethnic and cultural diversity in terms of their intellectual roots and philosophy, as well as their principles of organization and implementation: (a) the integration model where individual merit which was gained by personally, decides personal future; (b) the multicultural model whereby diverse groups – both migrant and indigenous – cultivate differences within the same unitary system in terms of language of instruction and ethnically sensitive content; and (c) the parallel model whereby different segments of the school system are designed to cater to different linguistic or ethnic groups.   

These are the three particular areas where policy-makers and educational planers can make a difference in the context of multi-ethnicity. They relate to educational content, language policy and teacher training. With regard to educational content, the policy forum discussed whether there should be a single universal set of content for all students, or if there is room for specificity of content relating to the various ethnic groups. In other words, they need to be prepared for teaching in an environment that is very different from the one in which they themselves went to school, and one that is continually adapting to the changing demography.


The main message of the speech is that we should consolidate rights and freedom of human beings


Therefore, beyond the elaborate structures of system of education, a key consideration for democracies is the strength of education institutions to prevail over private or non-state actors, from corporations to warlords. Also, education is to have an impact on societies that face ethnic and cultural diversity, it is the society that has to consciously accept such diversity and work towards assimilating the diverse cultural and different ethnicities in to the main national stream and so only can have such societies to create a truly effective plural educational system. This is the only way to make the Dream of Martin Luther King, a reality. 

(The writer is the Deputy Director of Education (Planning) at the Provincial Department of Education-Southern)   

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