The publication of this Guide marks a significant step in the continuing development of Education for Mutual Understanding (EMU) in the education system in Northern Ireland. Following the issue of the Department of Education Northern Ireland (DENI) circular "Improving Community Relations: the Contribution of Schools", DENI asked the Northern Ireland Council for Educational Development (NICED) to undertake development work to encourage the education system and schools and colleges in particular to introduce EMU into the curriculum. Accordingly, NICED set up an Education for Mutual Understanding Committee, on which is represented a wide range of interests in the general field of education and community relations.
Innovative work was undertaken with a pilot group of schools, teaching and learning materials were produced and modular courses developed. In the light of experience gained, the NICED EMU Committee- appointed a writing group to draw up this Guideline for schools and colleges. The work of the writing group in the preparation of this Guide is gratefully acknowledged by NICED. In particular the contribution of its chairman, Mr. S. Dunn, of the University of Ulster, has been of the greatest value.
Many statutory and voluntary bodies were consulted in the process of preparing this work. In particular advice was taken from the five Education and Library Boards (ELBs) the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS), the Governing Bodies Association (GBA) and some 90 schools. The knowledge, experience and practice of all of these contributed significantly to the content, structure and form of the guide.
This discussion document is intended for use by teachers in both segregated and integrated schools and colleges. The guidance it provides is offered in the knowledge of the many initiatives in EMU which are taking place in schools, teacher education institutions, ELBs and DENI. The Guide will complement these initiatives, and is designed to appeal to a wide readership for example:
It is unlikely that the Guide alone will meet the needs of all those who wish to promote EMU. It should be seen as only one element in a wider process which seeks to ensure coherence and co-operation between the partners in education. It will have served a very useful purpose if it helps to place EMU as an essential element in the life and work of schools, colleges and youth clubs in Northern Ireland.
The fact that this Guide has been produced and endorsed by a body
representative of all sectors in the Northern Ireland education
system will help to commend it to all involved in the education
of young people.
Dr. J. Wilson
R. N. Stewart
Education for Mutual Understanding
Northern Ireland is a deeply divided society. Everyone who lives here is affected by this division in one way or another. At worst this implies an involvement in violence, intimidation and hatred; at best it means a continual fight to cope with feelings of intolerance and suspicion, often unconscious, of the other side. There are a great many views about how to improve this situation, how to develop and test strategies that would help to remove the division both at its beginnings and in its everyday existence.
The purpose of this Guide is to demonstrate that education can contribute in an important way to bridging division and to removing inter-group suspicions, and to provide practical help in this process for schools, colleges and youth organisations. This view of education places relationships as the fourth "R" at the heart of school, college  and youth club activity and fits well with any definition of its central purpose. The range of associated activities is here referred to as Education for Mutual Understanding (EMU).
There is a considerable body of empirical evidence in Northern Ireland to support this view that education has an important role to play in the promotion of community relations. Many concerned teachers have worked in the area of EMU for a long time, and have generated a breadth of activities, both curricular and extra-curricular, designed to assist in this aspect of education. Some have done so within the context of established subjects. Others have used terms such as Peace Education, Cultural Studies, School Links or Community Studies. Collectively, these themes represent what is meant by Education for Mutual Understanding.
However, not all the projects and activities that have been successful are well known, and information about them needs to be widely disseminated. There is therefore an expressed and growing need for guidance and help, which this document provides. It gathers together the combined experiences of many schools, colleges, individuals and agencies working in this area, so that others can benefit from them.
EMU often takes the form of a specific planned project involving many aspects of the school's activities, but it can also be an important part of the normal curriculum. The Guide builds on the work already going on in both these forms, and provides case studies and examples of approaches which have been found to be successful in practice. Many of these have links with existing major educational initiatives, such as the 11-16 Curriculum Review Programme, the Primary Guidelines initiative, the Youth Training Programme, and the activities associated with GCSE. (See Appendix I).
EMU can involve work within a single school, and this is important in establishing attitudes and in encouraging curricular initiatives with an EMU dimension. But its importance also derives from its role as a preliminary to projects between institutions, involving pupils and teachers from two or more schools and from both communities, meeting together for a common productive purpose.
Some schools are already far advanced in the promotion of EMU, while others are just beginning. This Guide assumes that all schools need to develop an agreed policy on EMU. The Guide describes in detail the processes involved in the creation of a policy and emphasises their importance.
Like all educational activities EMU demands a range of imaginative
and stimulating resources. Knowing what is available, and where
and how to obtain resources, are important, and the Guide contains
much information about this. It concludes reference to materials,
aids, grants and schemes, as well as information about those associations
and agencies, both voluntary and statutory, with expertise and
skill which teachers and youth workers can call on for help and
advice. (See Appendix II).
This Guide has been designed to offer practical help to schools, colleges and youth organisations. It has attempted to make a case for the inclusion of EMU as an essential element of the curriculum on offer to all young people. It has not been intended as prescriptive in any way, for there is no one blue-print for success in Education for Mutual Understanding. Throughout the Guide it has been made clear that the design of programmes will vary and implementation will depend upon individual needs and circumstances.
Many teachers and leaders are already involved in Education for Mutual Understanding and this Guide may help to strengthen their conviction. For others it is offered as an encourgement towards placing relationships at the heart of their educational concern. The National Curriculum documentation for Northern Ireland refers to the need for EMU in our schools and this should prompt teachers to reflect further on how they might make a contribution. It is felt that with commitment, adaptation of approaches, and good communication all can respond to the challenge.
In whichever form it takes, EMU offers our young people hope for a better future. If this Guide increases awareness and confidence, if it helps some to make a start or others to resolve practical difficulties then the writers will consider their efforts well rewarded.
As always "actions speak louder than words", and more than anything else the purpose of this Guide is to encourage action. Getting started with EMU is often the most difficult task and this may be made easier by the knowledge that there already exists a body of expertise and experience that can be drawn on. The solution to the problem may be only a telephone call away.