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'Rampant racism mars education system'

Two new studies have found that Britain's education system remains "institutionally racist" with students and teachers from ethnic minorities acutely vulnerable to abuse.

india Updated: Oct 17, 2003 16:30 IST
UK Bureau

Two new studies have found that Britain's education system remains "institutionally racist" with pupils and teachers from ethnic minorities acutely vulnerable to abuse.

A study by the University of Brighton has criticised Home Minister David Blunkett's comments last January, that institutional racism is merely a slogan that lets individual managers "off the hook" in tackling racism, as sinister.

According to the report, ministers have failed to tackle xenophobia in schools and even distanced themselves from the official findings into the murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence. The judge had said that the police suffered from institutional racism and suggested measures to root it out.

A second study, investigating racism in schools in south-east England, found racial intolerance endemic in the playground. Students on teacher training courses also allegedly bore the brunt of intolerance with racists acting with impunity. Schools failed to discipline them.

One German trainee was taunted with cries of Hitler while an Asian was asked whether he rode elephants. Both studies concluded that covert racism existed everywhere. Dr Mike Coles, a specialist in equality and racist issues, has called upon Mr Blunkett to introduce "minimalist recommendations" of the judge in Lawrence case. These include empowering education authorities to create and enforce anti-racist policies and amending the National Curriculum to raise awareness of xenophobia.

Experts also blame racism on ignorance among pupils. "The way pupils are taught about Britain's imperial past, about slavery, or the Holocaust may well impact on their attitudes and Asian people, British born or not, to Germans and to foreigners in general," authors of the study said.

First Published: Oct 17, 2003 13:30 IST