Jamaican Historian Wants History to be Compulsory Subject in Schools

As Jamaica marked 182 years since Emancipation on Aug. 1, Verene Shepherd, a professor and social historian and director of the Centre for Reparation Research at the University of the West Indies in Mona, called for the teaching of history to be made compulsory at all levels of the education system.

“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.”

Shepherd, speaking at a Jamaica Information Service (JIS) Think Tank on Thursday, July 30, noted that the number of students pursuing history in high school and at UWI has been “sliding down.”

The historian, who is also a member of the National Council on Reparation under the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, said she hopes that the new Education Transformation Commission will take on the issue.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness recently named the 14-member commission, chaired by noted historical and cultural sociologist professor Orlando Patterson, which will be responsible for conducting a comprehensive review and assessment of Jamaica’s education system, including its structure and operations.

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