Melvin Riley, aged 21 from Wolverhampton, faced a school system that didn’t understand the unique challenges of racism. His idea, Not So Micro, is creating an anti-racism and microaggression training programme for educators, and will campaign for policy reform to ensure that schools are held accountable for promoting racial inclusion.
“As a finalist for the Big Education Challenge, I am excited about the tangible impact we can make to the education system. The inspiration behind Not So Micro originated from our lived experiences of racism, microaggressions, and the gaps in the infrastructure during our school days. Our vision is to establish inclusive environments where racially competent teachers are the norm.”
Melvin, a social-tech entrepreneur, public speaker, and youth advocate, grew up in the UK as a child of Zambian and Jamaican immigrants, shaping his experience of school and the education system through his cultural background and personal challenges.
He is part of the Young Changemakers, a collaboration between UK Youth, the Centre for Mental Health, and The Diana Award, where he developed his project Not So Micro.
The safety and mental health of minority students is at risk as there is a lack of awareness and training around microaggressions and racism in schools.
Many teachers do not have the necessary tools to provide a safe and inclusive learning environment for all students, particularly those from ethnic minority backgrounds.
“I am determined to create a better future for young people by transforming the education system in the UK to be more inclusive and supportive.”
The bold idea
Not So Micro is a youth-led organisation that will take a multi-faceted approach, including campaigning for policy reform so that anti-racism and microaggression become mandatory components in teacher training and that schools are held more accountable for promoting racial inclusion.
It will also create an anti-racism and microaggression training programme for educators, utilising technology to make a tailored programme that is accessible and engaging, and to undertake awareness-raising activities to highlight the negative impact of racism in schools on the mental health of young people and the urgent need for change.
“We must fundamentally rethink how we approach education, placing a greater emphasis on the racial impacts on mental health and wellbeing, and actively working to address these issues.”
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