APPG Education Report: Overhaul needed of how Africa is studied in British schools
Posted on 19th April, 2022 in Education
From left to right Lord Boateng and Bim Afolami MP present the APPG Education Report to James Cleverly MP, then Secretary of State for Education (Credit: The Royal African Society)
The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Africa, supported by the Royal African Society and the educational consultancy, Justice 2 History published a report calling on the UK Government to support an overhaul of how Africa is studied in Britain. The parliamentary inquiry and subsequent report published in March 2022 recommended that the Department for Education abolish the requirement in the English Literature GCSE syllabus that prevents students from studying non-British English authors and poets. The requirement is to study only authors from the British Isles (introduced in 2014). The report also made other practical suggestions for improving the way Africa is taught about in schools, suggesting that Africa should be included in the “modern world” section of GCSE and A-Level History and Geography courses with coverage that goes beyond development, disaster, slavery and colonialism to give students a broader and, crucially, more accurate knowledge of the continent.
On the 19th July, Lord Paul Boateng and Bim Afolami MP, who led the inquiry and championed the report by the All Party Parliamentary Group for Africa, met with the (then) Secretary of State for Education, the Rt Hon James Cleverly MP to discuss the report’s recommendations. He responded that:
“There is a real opportunity to have a more sophisticated way of looking at Africa-Anglo relations through the schools system. Black History Month is important, but my personal view is that we need to get to a stage where black history isn’t an appendix but is woven in. There is now an opportunity for a much more balanced, sophisticated and integrated conversation, and having the confidence to have those wall-to-wall conversations to talk about the complexity. Turning that into a reality is important but there is plenty to do. Finding examples where changes can fit in naturally and easily without displacing anything else is well worth thinking about.”
Despite this positive response to the report, the written response from the Department indicates no intention to change the GCSE syllabus in the immediate future, arguing that it was more important to provide “stability for schools (to) enable them to remain focused on (results) and recovery from the pandemic, (The Government) will maintain (the) current system of primary assessment and world-class GCSEs and A levels.”
The report underlined that transforming the study of Africa in the curriculum should be a collaborative effort by teachers, scholars, and communities, supported by exam boards, publishers, and the government and that it’s essential to build teachers’ knowledge and confidence in teaching about Africa. The inquiry and its recommendations has wide and unanimous support from across the education sector. The Royal African Society, through its education programme and via its support for the APPG, will remain committed to advocating for reform through its work with schools, educators and policymakers.
If your school or organisation would like to explore opportunities to work together in furthering this agenda, please do get in touch (email: email@example.com).