Government may invest but schools must give it
AWARENESS OF the Holocaust among English schoolchildren has grown since it became a compulsory part of the national history curriculum in 1991. Most recognise the term and associate it with the mass murder of Jews in the Second World War.
By the time they enter the fourth year of secondary school, 85 per cent of children will have been taught about the Holocaust, according to the survey published last month by University College London’s Centre for Holocaust Education. Most think it is important and want to know more.
But the report also documents widespread “gaps, confusions and significant inaccuracies” in their knowledge. “Most students who have studied the Holocaust at school do not have a clear understanding of some of its most fundamental aspects,” it stated.
The most striking figure was that more than two-thirds could not say what the term “antisemitism” meant and only just over half could identify that the number of Jews who perished was six million. However, one should add that, whereas only 10 per cent of first years knew the meaning of antisemitism, that had climbed to three-quarters of those in their final year. Knowledge improves with age.
The authors argue that teaching about the Holocaust must go beyond using it as a vehicle to warn against the dangers of racism. If young people are to begin to understand how an advanced tech-