Scottish election 2021: Children to be taught Scotland's 'historic complicity' in slave trade in Green proposals

Education of Scotland’s children could have a renewed focus on the country’s links to the slave trade and on the climate crisis under new proposals from the Scottish Greens.

In June 2020, protesters throwing the statue of Edward Colston into Bristol harbour during a Black Lives Matter protest rally.
In June 2020, protesters throwing the statue of Edward Colston into Bristol harbour during a Black Lives Matter protest rally.

Teachers will be asked to ‘teach the past’ and 'teach the future’ in school through measures that would see a “decolonised” account of Scotland’s history alongside the “embedding” of issues around climate change into the curriculum.

The plans follow protests across the United Kingdom and the USA linked to the Black Lives Matter movement and the toppling of the statue of Edward Colston in Bristol last June.

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Scotland saw its own protests and calls for a re-evaluation of the country’s links to the slave trade, with the statue of Henry Dundas in St Andrew Square in Edinburgh the centre of controversy in the summer due to Dundas’ links to the slave trade.

Scottish Green plans to ‘teach the past’ will see an “appropriate weight” given to the “experience and perspectives of people of colour” and provide both the “good and bad” aspects of Scotland’s history.

It also describes plans to teach Scottish pupils about Scotland’s “historic complicity” in the slave trade during the late 18th and early 19th century and earlier.

Meanwhile, pupils will be provided with a better understanding of the climate emergency and how to tackle the problem during their lifetime as part of the ‘teach the future’ proposals.

The proposals, which will form part of the party’s manifesto, are described as having the potential to “transform our education system”.

Ross Greer, the Scottish Greens’ education spokesperson, speaking ahead of the manifesto launch said: “We have listened to the voices of young people and are putting forward a range of proposals in this election designed to transform our education system.

"School climate strikers have told us that they feel underequipped to deal with a climate crisis which will define their adult lives and far too many young people of colour have told us that they simply do not feel represented at all in the curriculum.

“That has to change, so the Scottish Greens’ manifesto will include both ‘Teach the Future’ and ‘Teach the Past’ proposals, designed to embed climate education, decolonise the Curriculum for Excellence and ensure that young people in Scotland have an accurate understanding of our country’s history, both good and bad.”

Teach The Future, a youth-led campaign which aims to increase the amount and quality of education around global warming and the climate emergency, welcomed the proposals from the Scottish Greens.

The campaign in Scotland said: “We believe that climate action and thus climate education policy must be at the forefront of the election as the education system is currently not preparing students and pupils for the challenges we face now and in the future nor is it empowering students to fight for climate justice.

"Therefore, it is essential that climate education is embedded through the curriculum and this starts with the inclusion of our asks in party manifestos. We thank the Scottish Green Party for taking this important step.”

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