Jamaica

Professor Shepherd — Make History Compulsory In School

Historian and Director of the Centre for Reparation Research at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, Professor Verene Shepherd, has called for the teaching of history to be made compulsory in school.

Professor Shepherd posited the view as Jamaica seeks to mark 182 years since Emancipation on August 1.

“We must teach the children the truth and to balance the knowledge that they have been getting about the people who are their (forefathers),” she said.

“Stop allowing our children to grow up as disconnected people without root,” she added.

She also remarked that the new Education Transformation Commission should take the issue on board in their deliberations.

Professor Shepherd also highlighted the importance of oral history to impart information that is not in the archives.

She said that students could learn about their past from older persons in their communities through oral history.

On the issue of removing statues and monuments in Jamaica that honor colonialists, Professor Shepherd pointed to the need for a national conversation on the matter.

“I don’t believe that you should throw them in the sea because as a historian, I believe in preservation, information, and documentation, but I don’t have to walk past them every day; I don’t have to look at them every single day,” she noted.

She said that there is no consensus in Jamaica about removing monuments “that dishonor our ancestors” while noting that it is not too late to begin the conversation.

“I hope that the conversations will intensify because we are talking about Emancipation,” she added.

Yvad Billings, Readers Bureau, Contributor

Edited by Jesus Chan

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