Tue | Jul 17, 2018

LETTER OF THE DAY - Legacy of miseducation continues

Published:Wednesday | October 20, 2010 | 12:00 AM


ON THE day following Heroes Day 2010, I watched the rerun of the Junior Schools' Challenge Quiz competition between two very esteemed preparatory schools and was deeply saddened. I heard the question being asked to the young competitors: 'What important event took place in Jamaica's history in 1655?' and heard the uniform answer: 'The British took control of Jamaica'.

Here I saw that, despite what may be the best of intentions, we are continuing a legacy of miseducation that goes against the very ideologies that our heroes like Marcus Garvey fought so hard to eliminate. We continue to educate our children about the events of history in a manner that has the opposite effect of what all civilised educational systems should be trying to achieve; inspiring confidence, national pride and self-awareness in its people. Why should the colonised celebrate their own enslavement/colonisation? Why should it be deemed an important part of our history when our colonisers changed hands from Spanish to British?

Sadly, however, this miseducation has not limited itself to our school system or national quiz competitions. In fact, it has permeated even the very institutions which were initially formed to uplift and enlighten us. At the most recent 'dinner and a movie' series, an event put on by the Universal Negro Improvement Association, there again I was appalled to see the film that was being presented about Leopold, King of Belgium and the atrocities of the Congo to our young, impressionable minds. This film, a production of the British Broadcasting Corporation, rather than properly addressing this crime against humanity, sought to provide excuses for Leopold as a man of his times; as being a great visionary who was simply 'overcome with greed' and worst of all, implied that his atrocities were caused by African conspirators and only brought to an end by the 'good' and 'conscientious' missionaries who 'saved' the poor Congolese people.

Liberating the minds

This film did not make any mention of Patrice Lumumba, a great hero who fought ferociously for his people's liberation from the Belgians. This raises serious questions about not only why it was chosen to be shown just days before our national Heroes' Day, but also whether those we have entrusted with liberating the minds of our youth are capable, or indeed willing to execute this so very great task.

We must begin the difficult task of retraining our minds and the minds of our youth. We owe it to them to provide a proper perspective of history, wherein they are not simply presented as the hopeless victims, shattered and dehumanised, awaiting to be saved by forces outside of themselves.

I am, etc.,

Keisha A. McDonald