In a first, Labour Party vows to teach colonial history in Britain’s schools

Updated on Nov 27, 2019 06:02 AM IST
It is the first time the issue has figured in electoral discourse in Britain, despite growing demands in recent years by academics, parents and employers seeking individuals with an enhanced awareness of global contexts.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s idea of the new ‘Emancipation Education Trust’ is aimed at educating future generations in Britain about slavery and the struggle for emancipation, besides the “role and legacy” of the British empire and colonisation.(REUTERS)
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s idea of the new ‘Emancipation Education Trust’ is aimed at educating future generations in Britain about slavery and the struggle for emancipation, besides the “role and legacy” of the British empire and colonisation.(REUTERS)
Hindustan Times, London | By

If you grow up in Britain, you will finish school without being taught anything about the brutalities of the British empire in India and elsewhere, because the subject is not part of the curriculum, but Labour has promised to bridge this historical gap.

It is the first time the issue has figured in electoral discourse in Britain, despite growing demands in recent years by academics, parents and employers seeking individuals with an enhanced awareness of global contexts.

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor has often pointed out the lack of instruction about British colonialism in all its dimensions in British schools.

Some Indian-origin youngsters from London schools who visited India for the first time in 2018 said they had never heard of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre until then.

Setting out measures in its ‘race and faith manifesto’, Labour announced that if it wins the December 12 election, it will create an “Emancipation Educational Trust to ensure historical injustice, colonialism and role of the British empire is taught in the National Curriculum”.

Virendra Sharma, senior Labour leader and candidate from Ealing, Southall, said: “I have long argued that British colonialism in India should be taught in schools. Partition was such an important event in British history and it ought to be part of the curriculum”.

There has been criticism that the British empire has been whitewashed in curriculum, instead of it being taught, warts and all. University lecturers note that students enrol in history courses after school, mostly unaware of British colonialism and its legacies; the curriculum focus is more on Nazi Germany, European history or the American civil war.

Dawn Butler, Labour’s shadow equalities and women’s secretary, said: “Only by acknowledging the historical injustices faced by our communities can we work towards a better future that is prosperous for all, that isn’t blighted by…the politics of fear”.

The gap in historical awareness is more evident in UK-born and educated people of Indian origin. The 2018 visit to India by a 14-member group of London-based youngsters was described by them on their return at the Indian high commission as an ‘eye-opener’.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s idea of the new ‘Emancipation Education Trust’ is aimed at educating future generations in Britain about slavery and the struggle for emancipation, besides the “role and legacy” of the British empire and colonisation.

The Department for Education said: “We expect all schools to teach a broad and balanced curriculum, learning about different cultures and how they have shaped national and international events, which includes black history”.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Prasun Sonwalkar was Editor (UK & Europe), Hindustan Times. During more than three decades, he held senior positions on the Desk, besides reporting from India’s north-east and other states, including a decade covering politics from New Delhi. He has been reporting from UK and Europe since 1999.

Close Story
QUICKREADS

Less time to read?

Try Quickreads

  • With Sunak showing little sign of making inroads, Truss is the hot favorite to become the party’s and the country’s next leader.

    Rishi Sunak losing UK prime minister race, trails Liz Truss by 32 points

    Liz Truss led Rishi Sunak by 32 points in the latest survey of UK Tory members by the ConservativeHome website, suggesting she remains on track to win the race to succeed Boris Johnson as prime minister. Some 60% of the 961 Tory members polled by the influential website said they favored Truss to become the Conservative Party's new leader, while just 28% backed Sunak, ConservativeHome said on Wednesday.

  • Afghanistan, where Taliban are ruling now, however, is yet to meet the expectations of both China as well as Pakistan on many counts.

    China wants military outposts in Pakistan to safeguard its investments

    Having made significant investments in the conflict-prone Pakistan-Afghanistan region as part of its hugely ambitious Belt and Road Initiative, China is planning to protect its interests in the two countries by stationing its own forces in specially created outposts, according to top diplomatic sources. Pakistan, where according to some estimates the Chinese investments have risen above USD 60 billion, is largely dependent on China not only for financial but also military and diplomatic support.

  • US Representative Liz Cheney at an election night event during the Wyoming primary election.

    Republican leader who voted for Trump's impeachment loses Wyoming primary

    Cheney will now be forced from Congress at the end of her third and final term in January. Far, US President Donald Trump's has helped install loyalists who parrot his conspiracy theories in general election matchups from Pennsylvania to Arizona. With Cheney's loss, Republicans who voted to impeach Trump are going extinct. Democrats across America, major donors among them, took notice. Trump earned nearly 70% of the vote in 2016 and 2020.

  • Former US President Donald Trump.

    Trump says FBI returned his passports: 'Unfortunately, they just grabbed…'

    Former US president Donald Trump on Wednesday said that the department of justice and the FBI returned his passports seized during the raid at his Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida last week. Trump said on Tuesday in a statement in a Truth Social post. On Monday, he alleged that the federal law enforcement agency “stole” three passports, one of which he said was expired.

  • Arizona's allocation from the river will fall by 21 percent in 2023, while Nevada will get eight percent less.

    US cuts water supply for some states, Mexico as drought bites

    Water supplies to some US states and Mexico will be cut to avoid "catastrophic collapse" of the Colorado River, Washington officials said Tuesday, as a historic drought bites. Arizona's allocation from the river will fall by 21 percent in 2023, while Nevada will get eight percent less. Mexico's allotment will drop by seven percent. It is fed chiefly by snowpack at high altitudes, which melts slowly throughout the warmer months.

SHARE
Story Saved
×
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Wednesday, August 17, 2022
Start 15 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now