Follow Welsh lead on black history in schools - Readers' Letters

The Welsh Education Minister Kirsty Williams is leading the way in ground-breaking curriculum reform by adopting 51 recommendations of a new report which advised on the inclusion of black history in the Welsh school curriculum.

A Black Lives Matter protest at Melville Monument in Edinburgh. Should black history be included in the school curriculum?
A Black Lives Matter protest at Melville Monument in Edinburgh. Should black history be included in the school curriculum?

This report concludes that “education alone cannot put right the systemic racial inequality that is evidenced and experienced in all social policy fields…” but that schools are a “significant arena of change and critical in building the ethical and informed citizens of the future”.

It is incumbent upon all of us to take account of and welcome this report, particularly in the light of growing daily evidence of the devasting impact that racial inequality, entrenched by decades and decades of systematic racism, has across all areas of society.

It falls upon all of society to acknowledge racial inequality and do everything possible to address and eliminate it. I am sure John Swinney or any potential successor as Cabinet Secretary for Eduation would recognise the significant positive change in society that can be made towards the elimination of racial inequality in Scotland, through educating children and young people about black history, and including black history in the Scottish school curriculum.

Teaching children and young people about racism and the experiences and contributions of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people must become part of school curriculum across all nations of the United Kingdom.

Show Racism the Red Card is a charity that provides anti-racism education and training to children and young people. With 25 years’ experience, we would welcome the opportunity to work with the Scottish Government in the development and implementation of the black history curriculum.

Tosca Fairchild

Chair, Board of Trustees, Show Racism the Red Card, North Shields, Tyne & Wear

Greens’ focus

Am I alone in finding it grotesque that the Scottish Green Party by its fervent support for Scottish independence, has allowed itself to become so subservient to the interests of the SNP?

It seems to me extraordinary that an environmental party, dedicated in theory to working on an international scale to save the life-systems of the entire planet, should commit itself so enthusiastically to the cause of nationalism and separatism.

Extraordinary or not, the result is that someone like me, who believes that the separation of Scotland from the rest of the UK would be a pernicious severing of innumerable ties of heritage and kinship, can never vote for the Scottish Green Party. This despite the fact that I am very much in favour of many of their environmental policies, and in other circumstances would be happy to give them my vote.

But if I vote for the Scottish Greens in the May elections, it will have only one consequence – it will be said I voted to contribute to Alex Salmond’s supermajority in the Scottish Parliament of nationalist parties, and this means that I want another referendum on independence. So as a person concerned about green issues I am effectively disenfranchised.

I don’t know whether this will bother the Scottish Greens, as most of the time I ever see any coverage of them in the news, it is in connection with their support for independence or the SNP. I seldom hear about any statement or initiative from them on environmental matters.

Tom Johnstone

Station Road, Roslin

History lesson

D Jamieson (Letters, 31 March) reels off a list of "progressive" measures introduced in Scotland by the SNP since 2007.

Allow me to point out that, arguably the most significant of these – free personal care for the elderly – was not introduced by the SNP at all but was enacted in 2002 by the Labour-Lib Dem coalition, aong with all the other really significant changes, which have brought meaningful improvements for the whole population. These were: the smoking ban, the "right to roam" legislation, the millennial review pay deal which brought peace in our schools, "buy out" legislation which enabled many communities in the Highlands and Islands to buy their own land, and the rebuilding of hundreds of schools and several huge hospitals.

By contrast, the council tax freeze under the SNP resulted in local authorities starved of funds. You can see the results in our potholed streets and dangerous lack of maintenance in our roads all over the country. Free tuition fees resulted in Scottish students passed over for places in favour of fee-paying English and overseas students, universities short of funds, industrial strife at colleges and universities, and less support for disadvantaged students compared to England. And free prescriptions and pay rises has apparently only made the NHS worse.

Brian Carson

Belmont Gardens, Edinburgh

Brought to book

Louis de Bernieres (Letters, 31 March) lists a dozen questions that the “the people of the UK are entitled to have answers to”.

The first thing to note is that some of the questions presuppose that the UK is not a union of equals. There is an assumption that the 1707 Act of Union was an act on annexation; that the UK’s currency and the embassies are owned by one party to the union. It is unlikely that all the women going through separation would agree that the assets are owned by the husband.

The question of currency is a red herring. It is also difficult to understand why the non-Scots parts of the UK should worry if an independent Scotland is worse off financially or unable to rejoin the European Union.

If Scotland is such a burden on the UK and we assume that economic wellbeing is the criterion for the existence of the union, then the rest of the UK should welcome separation. The fact that it does not indicates that the real economic relationship between England and Scotland is highly beneficial to England, despite the creative accounting of the Barnett formula.

As for passports issued to residents of Scotland, it is perfectly possible for rUK to issue passports to residents of another country, as the UK is now doing with Hong Kong residents.

The question of a border with England can be settled in various ways. One of these is to adopt the procedures that the Benelux countries used before the formation of the EU.

Separation can be smooth or bumpy, depending upon the attitudes and expectations of the separating partners. If one partner wants to keep all the assets, then it will be bumpy.

Dr Francis Roberts

Duddingston Square West, Edinburgh

Worse pluck

Franco Corelli was perhaps the finest Italian tenor of the 20th century. Arcangelo Corelli was an important composer in the 18th century. Captain Corelli's Mandolin was the only half decent book written by Louis de Bernieres in the 20th century.

Perhaps Mr de Bernieres could practice his mandolin playing in Norfolk, rather than poking his nose into Scottish politics? I shall stick to the first two Corellis for enlightenment!

Brian Bannatyne Scott

Murrayfield Drive, Edinburgh

Animal transport

For the 200,000 animals on board 18 ships waiting to go through the Suez Canal the reopening of the canal is a mixed blessing. Their ordeal journeying to a cruel death in Jordan is shortened, though unbelievably as livestock they must take second place in the queue to more lucrative inanimate cargoes. Most of the animals concerned are from Romania, a country which was quick to resume its live exports to the Middle East even after 14,000 sheep drowned in transit in November 2019.

Just how many more animal transport disasters must there be before we say enough is enough and that sentient animals suffer as we do? Live long-distance animal transport, especially to countries without welfare policies, is a vile stain (and an unnecessary one) on every country that partakes in it, from seller to consumer, as much as the human slave trade 200 years ago.

H Allan

Blackfriars Street, Edinburgh

Part-time MPs

I note that Kenny MacAskill, having switched parties, has declined to resign and face his East Lothian electorate at a by-election. I also note his decision to remain an MP even if he is elected to the Scottish Parliament. His reasoning? “Everyone else does it'.” If ever there was evidence that honesty and integrity have flown out of the political window, this is it.

The law needs to change. First of all, if an MP/MSP decides to defect to another party, they must submit that decision to those who elected them at a by-election. To do otherwise is simply dishonest.

Secondly, it should not be possible for someone to be both an MP and an MSP at the same time. It is a tacit admission that both roles are part-time jobs and if they are part-time, why are they paid so handsomely for doing them?

Our parliamentary representatives are fond of telling us how hard they work and how committed they are to their constituents and no doubt many of them are, but in the case of Kenny MacAskill, Douglas Ross and, in the past, Alex Salmond, not so committed that they can't spare the time to do another job

No wonder trust in politicians and the political process is as such a low ebb.

David Hamill

Preston Cottages, East Linton

Acts of faith

Believing in free speech, especially at a time when is being widely threatened, I recognise Neil Barber's right to question and deny aspects of religious faith (Letters, 1 April).

However, I would ask him whether he and his Secular Society, in their recurring publicly expressed attacks, have borne in mind an imperative need to spare the sick and the bereaved the comfort in their faiths by sneeringly denying their main precepts.

(Dr) Charles Wardrop

Viewlands Road West, Perth

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