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Education consultant Anwar Akhtar opens eyes of UEL journalism students to social and cultural issues

students in class

Anwar Akhtar is a thought leader on issues of multi-culturalism and race

By Lee Pinkerton

Journalism students at the University of East London (UEL) are benefiting from the guidance, and creative input of renowned multicultural education consultant Anwar Akhtar (pictured left)..

Mr Akhtar is chief executive of The Samosa – an arts and media charity that works with students on themes of inter-faith relations, peace studies, community cohesion, urban planning and policy development.

His previous credits include a collaboration with the National Theatre in the production of Dara – an historical drama about Islam and human rights. 

Mr Akhtar said, “Samosa Media uses film, theatre and journalism to provide creative spaces for young people to explore cultural and social issues impacting their communities, fostering inter-cultural dialogue and community cohesion.”

His sessions with students are based on workshops where the students identify practical work they can deliver such as short films, podcasts, or photo journalism based on subjects they have chosen to investigate and develop as part of their curriculum and portfolio work. 

It is the second year that Mr Akhtar has been working with UEL students. Last year, his work resulted in two short films – one relating to the 70th anniversary of the partition of India and the other looking at Britain’s future ‘partition’ from the European Union through Brexit.

Brexit: A Country Divided? took the form of a political debate at UEL that was streamed live and then published in edited form on the University’s online magazine, Rising East.

Partition Stories was a film of interviews and reflections on the Indian Partition of 1947 and its legacy today for India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Britain. 

A new cohort of students this year will be undertaking a project looking at the Government’s anti-radicalisation strategy, Prevent. 

Dr Andrew Calcutt (right), Programme Leader of the BA (Hons) Journalism course, explained why he had invited Mr Akhtar to work with his students.

“Anwar is an established thought leader on the questions of multi-culturalism and issues of race in Britain,” he said.

 “The students get used to members of staff, but having Anwar come to look at issues that we might have approached is like bringing a fresh pair of eyes to the complexity of the social issues involved.”