Realising New Lanark’s education vision
Award created in honour of social reformer Robert Owen.
A new award recognising inspirational educators has been announced by Education Secretary Michael Russell.
The Robert Owen Award will recognise ground breaking and inspirational innovation in Education. The first winner will be announced later this year.
Mr Russell made the announcement while speaking to international delegates at The Utopian Studies Society’s European conference at New Lanark, the village where Owen provided security, education and decent living conditions for the mill workers and their families.
The award also recognises that this is the 200th anniversary of the publication of Owen’s seminal book “A New View of Society”.
Mr Russell said:
“In New Lanark child labour was ended; a sickness fund was established; a crèche for working mothers was developed and a comprehensive system of education was provided. Robert Owen saw education as being essential to the human experience.
“Modern Scotland embraces that view - we see education as a societal good as well as an individual one. It remains central to our values and to our very sense of ourselves.
“Owen challenged the status quo, he looked at how to engage and inspire people through education as he realised that it was the most important foundation in life.
“The Robert Owen Award will reward outstanding commitment to Scottish education, it will recognise creativity and it will exemplify why so many countries in Europe look on with interest on all that we have achieved in improving the prospects for our young people.
“Like Owen, we believe that we have a duty to provide education and that we all pay the price if we do not meet that responsibility.
“Yet until Scotland gains full control of its own finances, until we develop our own system of welfare, benefits and taxation, we will continue to be at the mercy of decisions taken remotely that limit our ability to do the best we can.
“For me, the independence debate is about the powers we need to tackle the deep-rooted challenges that face us – challenges like child poverty and gaps in educational attainment that have never been adequately tackled.
“Those are the issues that Robert Owen started to tackle and it is a debate which starts with the question; What kind of Scotland do we want to live in?”
New Lanark was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001 in recognition of its global cultural significance as a late eighteenth/early nineteenth century planned mill village that demonstrated his commitment to his worker’s welfare through the inclusion of an education institute, school and spacious workers’ housing.
Owen’s social philosophy had a profound influence on social developments throughout the nineteenth century and beyond.
The Utopian Studies Society was established at New Lanark in 1988 and aims to co-ordinate and encourage diverse work on the subject of utopianism.