UNESCO supports local history text to be introduced in schools by 2013

(EMU) – St. Kitts, June 22, 2012: A heated discussion surrounding the issue of whether a Text book on local history should start with occurrences in Africa or include only details of the experience that took place upon enslaved Africans’ arrival in St. Kitts and Nevis, concluded a recent meeting of the UNESCO National Scientific Slave Route Committee.

The main objective of the meeting was to conduct a visual overview of the document entitled “An Inventory of Heritage Slave Sites in the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis,” as well as to get feedback from committee members who reviewed its contents prior to arrival at the meeting on June 21.

The committee was full of praise for the work of its author and researcher, Mr. Leonard Stapleton, a local history enthusiast who was contracted by the National Commission for UNESCO to conduct the research and assist in producing the document to be used in schools as part of the local history curriculum.

Production of the document was done in response to increased societal debate on the need to correctly document the contribution of enslaved Africans to the Federation’s development in the pre-emancipation era and teach it to the youths as part of the Ministry of Education’s White Paper Initiative to teach local black history in schools.

The contents, which are organized by parish, identify places of memory, their location and description, as well as significance and historical background of each historic site.

Secretary General of the National Commission for UNESCO, Antonio Maynard, told the Education Media Unit that he was extremely pleased with what has been researched and documented by Mr. Stapleton. Commenting that is was extremely thorough and well researched. Mr. Maynard highlighted an outstanding feature of the document, being its presentation by themes which highlight the experiences and contributions of enslaved Africans in local history.

The Secretary General said next steps include collecting feedback from other stakeholders; contracting the services of a graphic designer as well as meetings with Curriculum Development and other Education officials. He said the intention is to have the document used as a Text in schools by 2013.

Some of the included heritage sites are: The Maroon Quarter at the South East Peninsula; Independence Square; Romney Manor; Fort Charles at Cleverly Hill Sandy Point; and Lawyer Stephens Cave in St. Kitts as well as Mount Travers, Russel’s Rest and Eden Brown Estate in Nevis.

Several committee members who attended the meeting for the review of the document expressed the view that the introduction of the Text should bring about a sense of pride in students and remove remaining vestiges of inferiority which came about as a result of the slavery mentality.

The proposed title of the history text is “The experiences and Contributions of enslaved Africans in St. Kitts and Nevis.”

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