The move would combat racism the organisation says
A charity is calling on Scotland’s exam body to update its syllabus to include four million south Asian soldiers who fought alongside British troops in both world wars.
Colourful Heritage wants the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) to acknowledge the service and sacrifice of the British Indian Army (BIA) in the national curriculum. saying the move would bolster efforts to tackle racism and promote a greater sense of belonging and identity among children of Asian heritage.
A report last year from Commonwealth War Graves Commission found “pervasive racism” meant that thousands of First World War casualties “were not commemorated by name or possibly not commemorated at all”.
Colourful Heritage said it was essential children do not leave school without learning about the sacrifices of the soldiers of all faiths and none who travelled halfway around the world to fight alongside British troops.
With the SQA due to be replaced with a new qualifications body by summer 2024, the charity said it was an opportune moment to incorporate the largely forgotten chapter in history and other courses.
Dr Saqib Razzaq, project officer and head of research at Colourful Heritage, said: “Nearly four million Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians and Gurkhas from the British Indian Army fought alongside British troops in the world wars, and more than 160,000 soldiers sadly lost their lives.
“We are grateful to all the teachers who have seized the opportunity to teach this vital part of our nation’s story to a new generation.
“But it shouldn’t come down to individual teachers – this needs to be an examinable part of our national syllabus.
“The SQA should act now to prove that we have learned from past mistakes.
“Because, without action, efforts to tackle intolerance and hatred in Scottish society will fail.
“We are not immune to racism here.
“By learning about the story of Asian and Muslim heritage in Scotland, we can build a greater sense of togetherness.
“And by learning about the sacrifices that were made, we can reflect on the commonality of our humanity.”
The charity in conjunction with Glasgow Museums has created a ‘Digital School Resource Pack’ to highlight the contribution of the south Asian community to Scotland including BIA soldiers of Force K6.
The pack consists of five units specially designed for Primary 6 and 7, high school pupils, and all teachers in training.
The online resource features case studies, suggested lesson plans, list of experiences and outcomes, discussion points and options for further reading about Scotland’s south Asians to business, politics and their migration story.
Colourful Heritage was awarded an ‘Outstanding Contribution to Cultural Awareness in the Classroom Award’ by Scottish Association of Minority Ethnic Educators (SAMEE) during August this year for this and other resources.
Scotland has a unique connection with the BIA through Force K6 – a mainly Muslim Mule Transport Corps of the Royal Indian Army Service Corps which arrived in Marseilles in December 1939.
The bulk of Force K6 was then evacuated out of Dunkirk in France to Britain, with the men stationed in Wales then in the Highlands of Scotland.
Fourteen died while they were in the Cairngorms for mountain training.
This story, and the immense contribution of south Asian soldiers to Britain’s war efforts, is still not widely known.