• Emma Gatrell

Fife Council Develop Enslavement Education Action Plan

Fife Council has developed a new Enslavement Education Action Plan to ensure a greater understanding of slavery’s impact locally. It launched this October during Black History Month. This plan has had input from experts of various organisations including the University of St Andrews, Educ8, Heriot-Watt University and the University of Glasgow. The motion for such a plan was proposed on September 10, 2020. Actions will include incorporating the history of slavery into the curriculum in Fife schools to educate young people about how it affected places and people and how it is still relevant. The plan will also maintain links to groups and individuals who have contributed to the Enslavement Education Group in the hopes they will play the role of a “critical friend”.

The committee will engage with the University of St Andrews on potential support for further research into historical links between enslavement and Fife.

The group also aims to identify monuments and street names with links to slavery and provide contextual information as appropriate, with the possibility of using a QR code.

Other actions include establishing a short-term working group to develop adult learning programmes on Fife’s links to historical enslavement; considering the production of a Fife publication similar to the “West Lothian Connection”, a book delving into the historical links between the local authority of the West Lothian area and the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade; and using the current trade of sugar, chocolate and linen as a basis to develop education and community understanding around enslavement.

Councillor Neil Crooks, chair of the working group which produced the plan, said, “Today it’s incomprehensible that British society would find enslavement of people acceptable in any form. However, this wasn’t the case in the past and here we are hundreds of years later still coming to terms with racism and using a month to give the subject a public airing.” “People are different in so many ways: rich and poor, healthy and unhealthy, tall and short, strong and weak, but the colour of a person’s skin does not compart-mentalise anyone into any of those singular human traits. So why is colour such an ongoing issue and what is being done about equality of opportunity in this so-called enlightened 21st century society?” “The slave trade and its impacts are far-reaching and complex and have affected every part of society. We cannot consider this in isolation; instead, we must look at it in the context of ongoing issues of racism and inequality in areas such as income, education and health, and the continuing under- representation of people from Black and minority ethnic communities in many professions, roles, and institutions.”

“Our plan sets out a number of actions which we hope will promote greater awareness among Fife’s young people and the wider community of the slave trade and its continuing impact and legacy in Fife, Scotland and beyond.” Councillor Manekshaw, member of the Enslavement Education Group, commented,“My parents immigrated from India in 1962 when I was seven and so I've had first- hand experience of the colour bar and endemic prejudice that existed throughout the ‘60s and beyond.” “I came to Scotland in 1965 and, as the only person of colour within both my primary school and my senior school, I got to know very well what it was to be a persecuted member of a racial minority.” “That said, I am also aware of the immense strides that have been made, since then, to improve the situation for racial minorities and I strongly believe that we, in Britain, should celebrate that journey, for it is only in so doing that we can encourage society at large to press on and complete the task.” “In that regard, I believe that educating the young on the injustices of the past provides the best opportunity for ensuring that racial equity becomes truly universal, which is why I was truly happy to lend my support to the creation of Fife Council's En- slavement Education Action Plan.”

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