With Lockdown once again upon us…apparently
this is a trilogy we are starring in, it got me wondering about the state of
education that kids in this country will or will not be receiving over the next
few weeks with reports saying that schools may be closed till after the next half
term in February…
Going to school is not just about the learning side etc but also the personal development and social aspect for children. It's where children first acquire language, develop cognitive skills and learn their individual identity. At the family level, children are also socialised and taught certain social roles and cultural valuations just to begin with.
But there is one thing in particular which I believe needs to be looked at in the British School Curriculum and that is how British History is taught in our schools.
In my opinion the British history curriculum should be overhauled to include a less Eurocentric version of the British Empire. Including the history of ethnic minorities not as oppressed victims, but as integral contributors to the British state could have a positive impact on ethnic minorities.
My schooling focused on topics such as the Tudors, Industrial Revolution and the World Wars. When addressing Commonwealth contributions to British history, British subjects from non-white countries were ignored. For example, India provided approx. 2.3 million volunteers for WWII, more than Australia, Canada and NZ combined, however, this is not widely known.
For instance my parents are both from Malaysia (which up until the recent past was a British Colony under British rule and only achieved real independence from British rule till August 31st 1957) and even how the history of how Malaysia was a key cog in the British Empire is a mere drop in the lake.
This debate is nothing new. The failings of the British curriculum led to Caribbean communities setting up Pan-African Saturday schools during the 1970’s. These were established in response to the lack of information taught on African heritage. Currently entertainment mediums and books are filling the void in teaching ethnic minorities about their respective heritages. Films such as ‘Stuck in Limbo’ and ‘Small Axe’ have shown the persecution of the Windrush generation, highlighting the governments culpability in depriving British Citizens of their rights.
A curriculum is intentionally designed, therefore, the problem is entrenched within structural racism and Britain’s denial of its tyrannical reign in its colonies. Britain’s governments have consistently erased the violent and exploitative nature of its empire from the national consciousness. Operation Legacy, which consisted of the destruction and concealment of ‘embarrassing’ files from the colonies, only became known due to the ‘Mau Mau Case’ in 2011. Operation Legacy perfectly encapsulates the British mentality to its sordid past, glorify the empire but forget its genocides, massacres and exploitation.
It's a big big maybe, but I still believe in hope and I hope others do too...