‘Free Ed Mcr’
An event promoting free liberal, democratic and equal education for all in the UK was held at The University of Manchester on Saturday 25 April.
Hundreds of people from school children to university graduates and teachers attended a series of seminars, workshops and activities held in several rooms at the Manchester Academy and in the Student Union.
Panellists including representatives from disability, LGBTQI, BME and Women’s Rights groups were joined by activist Colette Williams and several youth and arts groups such as M20 Collective, Young Identity, M13 and Hideaway Youth Project.
Calling for student fees to be completely abolished and Education Maintenance Allowance to be reinstated, Colette’s impassioned speech generated rapturous applause and cheers in a brilliant opening panel.
Ms. Williams drew from personal experience, saying, “As my son struggles through this minefield of an education system I assure him that as his mother first and an activist second I will challenge ‘by any means necessary’ and every single threat which prevents him from realising his potential and achieving his goals.” The nodding of heads and clapping of hands proved that she was not alone in her sentiments.
Headlining the event was London-based rapper, writer and philanthropist Akala, who was on the second panel and spent time taking photos with admirers, giving advice to fans and genuinely engaging with youngsters who wanted to talk music with him.
‘Decolonising education’ was the theme of the day with several speakers relaying their personal experiences and problems with the current education system. Akala used Shakespeare as a prime example of how the UK curriculum tries to force beliefs and education on unwitting youngsters. “They say Shakespeare was the greatest poet in the world but how can we know that if we don’t speak any other languages?” He challenged the thoughts of the crowds with questions and statements such as this throughout the day.
In-depth thought-provoking discussions around the concept of an independent curriculum provided the perfect backdrop for the creative buzz circulating that inspired beautiful murals, spoken word and the opportunity for people to meet others they might never have otherwise.
Undoubtedly though, Akala was the man everyone came to see and he held court during his talk which began with an interactive ‘guess the lyric session’ in which the crowd had to guess whether a verse was by Shakespeare or from a modern-day song.
TNT News Siobhan White