Britain’s Treasury and the Pears Foundation, a major contributor to education and civil rights causes in the UK and abroad, will each contribute £250,000 a year for three years to the Holocaust Educational Trust (HET) to train instructors to teach the Holocaust, British Chancellor Gordon Brown announced Tuesday.
Brown’s announcement seemed to quash recent rumors that Holocaust studies were being dropped from nation’s school curriculum.
“The Holocaust will remain on the curriculum, now and in the future. Future generations will always need to remember this defining episode in 20th century history, about man’s inhumanity to man. It is crucially important that young people learn about our history and heed the warnings from our past,” Brown declared.
Brown thanked the Pears Foundation for its “magnificent support” of the teacher training initiative, which, he said, would ensure that instructors were “adequately equipped” to deal with difficult subject matter.
Tuesday’s announcement reaffirmed the British government’s support for Holocaust education. Last year, the government sponsored HET’s Lessons from Auschwitz program, which takes two 11th and 12th-grade pupils from every UK school to visit the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp.
Officials in HET, which works in schools, universities and communities to educate young people from every ethnic background about the Holocaust and its lessons, expressed delight over the groundbreaking Holocaust education training fund. Karen Pollock, chief executive of HET, said that the “groundbreaking commitment to Holocaust education by the government and the Pears Foundation will enable HET to administer a broad program of teacher training.”
“We look forward to working with partner organizations on this important initiative,” Pollock added.
Lord Greville Janner, chairman of the HET, said he was delighted and grateful for the “wonderful follow-up” to Lessons in Auschwitz – a program launched in 2006 with initial Treasury funding of £1.5m.
Brown said Tuesday that he had been proud to announce last year’s initiative, and emphasized that the gift would allow more than 6,000 pupils to see the death camp.
“Our response to…anti-Semitism is strong and forceful. It is, I believe, supported by all parties and by Parliament. It is an issue that I will keep a close eye on,” Brown said.
The HET also released a statement refuting reports that Holocaust studies were being dropped at some UK schools so as not to offend Muslims. Pollock said that these reports would be investigated, but that the HET’s clear understanding was that the Holocaust would continue to be taught in all UK schools.
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