Under the devolved government, all pupils in Wales are to be taught black history as part of the mandatory curriculum. Students in Welsh schools will learn about racism and the contributions of black, Asian and minority ethnic communities alongside their core subjects, starting next year 2022.
The Labour-led government in the area has said the learning of BAME histories will help young people grow into “ethical and informed citizens”.
According to Professor Charlotte Williams, who led a working group designed to assess the education of ethnic history, there was considerable evidence of racial inequality in Wales’ school system, and she is committed to moving the needle.
She said,”The attainment of children and young people from some minority communities is being hampered by a curriculum that has failed to represent their histories, and the contributions of their communities, past and present. They are hampered by the lack of positive role models in an education workforce that does not adequately reflect the ethnically diverse profile of Wales; and they are hampered by experiences of racism in their everyday school life. This must change.” Williams asserted that it was the right of every child ‘to learn about histories and contributions that have shaped the Welsh nation’.
A report produced by the working group makes a total of 51 recommendations for 2022, including compulsory anti-racism and diversity training for all teachers and scholarships and mentoring for all BAME students and teachers. The Welsh government has pledged £500,000 to support the implementation of these measures.
Welsh education minister, Kirsty Williams, asserted: “Our new curriculum can only be enriched by revealing the diversity of perspectives and contributions made by the ethnic minority communities to the development of Wales across its history and in the present… we must ensure children’s experiences are expanded though engagement with ethnic minority perspectives, themes and contributions.”
She continued, expressing the potential domino effect the changes could inspire: “What happens in schools across Wales, the way in which they engage, take forward and sustain the concerns of this report is critically important to the wellbeing of all children and young people in Wales, to the wellbeing of those from minority backgrounds and to the wellbeing of society as a whole.”
Member of UK Youth Parliament for Cardiff, Angel Ezeadum, said it was a relief that “finally we are doing something” to tackle racism and inequality. The 16-year-old pupil said she hoped the changes would lead to the next generation of pupils having more opportunity to have a “different mindset to perhaps their parents or grandparents”.
The move is pioneering for the country and marks a turning point in attitudes towards racial inequality and injustice, in direct response to global demand for systemic change that could contribute to a better informed and more tolerant society.
The decision acknowledges the fact that in a recent petition, nearly 35,000 people called for Britain’s colonial past to be taught in schools and is a concerted, proactive step towards diversity and inclusion within the school system today, as it shapes the young minds of tomorrow.