A new schools exchange programme between Bradford and Pakistan may follow a fact-finding trip to the region by former Bradford youth worker Mohammed Amran.

Mr Amran, who is now the UK's youngest commissioner for racial equality, has spoken of his hopes to fight racism by setting up the programme to give youngsters from the two countries glimpses of a very different culture.

The former chairman of the Manningham Young People's Forum has recently returned from his second visit to Pakistan and has been inspired by the trip to foster more links between youngsters in the two countries.

He was given a £2,000 grant from the Millennium Commission to visit Pakistan on a fact-finding mission that included shadowing doctors and learning about schemes for disabled people.

But during the 18-day visit he also forged some links with local schools which he now hopes to build on with the aim of setting up a youth exchange.

"We made some good links with schools, and some were keen to look at youth exchanges," he said.

"If everything goes well I will contact the embassy if necessary to get visas for some of the children.

"I'd love for some of those children to come over and look at the experience of children in Bradford and it would also be good for mixed groups of children from Bradford - black and white - to travel to Pakistan.

"I'd love to get a scheme like that off the ground, there hasn't been such an exchange for a long time although I understand there has been from other cities.

"With Bradford being a multi-cultural city it would benefit from an exchange programme; it all ties in with peer education and anti-racism work with children."

Today the idea won a warm reception from education chiefs.

Councillor Jim Flood, chairman of the education committee, said: "I think this is a wonderful idea and if the commissioner wants to contact us and outline his ideas, we would be keen to look at them. I do worry that funding may be a problem - both for schools in Pakistan and for those in Bradford."

Converted for the new archive on 30 June 2000. Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.