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D-Day looms for black history in schools petition

CAMPAIGNER: Stephanie Pitter with two of her children Zynai, left, and Yvene

TIME IS tight but it can still be done before next month’s deadline if everyone adds their name to an online petition to make black history part of the school curriculum for primary education.

The long-running campaign was started by crusading mum Stephanie Pitter who is urging people to sign an e-petition to make black history a mandatory element of the national UK primary curriculum.

But there must be 100,000 signatures before the deadline runs out at 12pm on February 10 in order for the issue to be debated in parliament.

So far, with online numbers at just over 33,000, plus signatures on paper reaching 12,000, the petition is almost half-way there with less than a month to go.

It’s a tall order, but mum-of-four Pitter remains determined and optimistic. She told The Voice: “We’ve had times when we’ve received more than 5,000 signatures in a week and a half, so this is still possible if everyone signs up.

“It’s on Facebook and I’ve now started a countdown, stressing the urgency to get as many names as possible. With Christmas and other distractions out of the way it can still be done.

“Over the past few months I’ve nearly worn out my feet going to all kinds of events to spread the word. We’ve had some tremendous message of support – I’ve met many white teachers who are so keen to get this up and running in their schools.

“It’s important that black history is not just about slavery, Martin Luther King or Mary Seacole. I’m not belittling any of these heroes, but there is so much more to our past that is not getting passed on to the next generation.

“It’s important that pupils develop an understanding of the key events that have shaped the history of Britain and the people who have helped to do that.”

Pitter, a former social, is a governor at a primary school near her Birmingham home and teaches black history on a voluntary basis.

She decided to launch her campaign after her son was racially abused in school, which she puts down to other children’s ignorance about what Africans and Caribbeans have contributed to Britain and the rest of the world.

“We will never cut out racism, but teaching black history in our schools will help our children to realise where they have come from and where they are going.”

She has written to prime minister David Cameron and received a response from schools minister Nick Gibb. Closer to home she is setting up meetings with Sir Albert Bore, leader of Birmingham City Council, and councillor Brigid Jones, cabinet member for Children and Family Services.

“If we cannot set up a UK-wide project before next month’s deadline, I would at least like to see progress made in Birmingham, which could then be taken up by other cities,” added Pitter.

To sign the petition before February 10 visit: epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/60635

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