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Event at Britannia Street Conference Centre a First for NATFHE

The University and College Lecturers” Union, NATFHE, held an event to celebrate Black History Month on Thursday 27th October.

The event, which took place at the Britannia Street Conference Centre in London, was the first of its kind for NATFHE. It was organised by NATFHE’s fifteen black staff, one of which is national official Christiane Ohsan. She said that black staff at NATFHE were “keen to join other organisations and unions taking part in black history month.”

The afternoon event featured a visual presentation about black historical achievements and a guest speaker, who spoke to guests about the campaign to free the “Grenada 16”, former political leaders of Grenada, who were imprisoned after the US invasion of the island in 1983.

The Brain Drain

Other subjects for discussion included the “brain drain” of African academics to Europe, and the educational needs of black children in Britain. Ms Ohsan said that, for an education union, it was “natural to focus some attention on the educational needs of the black community.”

She added that, “with reports that black children, especially boys, are continually failing at school, we have highlighted the publication of “Tell It Like It Is: How our schools fail black children”, which is a reprinting of the highly respected book by Bernard Coard: “How the West Indian Child is Made Educationally Subnormal in the British School System.” The new publication of the book, which was first published over 30 years ago, includes essays, articles and reflections from modern scholars and activists, and has a foreword by NATFHE General Secretary Paul Mackney.

Black History Month is held every October in Britain. It aims to promote knowledge of black history and experience, disseminate information about the positive contribution of black people to British society, and heighten the confidence and awareness of black people in their cultural heritage. Ms Ohsan confirmed that NATFHE hopes to hold the event annually during Black History Month, even in the event that their proposed merger with the AUT goes ahead.

Jessica Brammar

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