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Britain transformed the world.

Sir, - I was recently shocked, saddened and puzzled when from two independent sources I was informed that the history of the British Empire and that of its creators, is to be removed from school syllabuses, including those at A-level.

When I was a boy in the 1930s, we were not indoctrinated in the way in which the Hitler Youth were indoctrinated, but nevertheless, we gradually and quietly acquired knowledge of the Empire and of those who created it. It gave us poise and stability and a set of standards.

When war came, we believed that although Britain might initially lose some battles, ultimately victory was assured.

By means of the Empire Air Training Scheme, I did my flying training in South Africa and afterwards travelled widely in what is now India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. I found things to praise and things to condemn, just as I would in Britain today, but good outweighed bad.

People have pointed to events in the past, such as slavery, which could bring pain and give offence now that (because of the Empire) we are a multiracial society.

I would remind your readers that slavery was not the only evil in that rather primitive time. The Industrial Revolution, which began in this country and which eventually ushered in our modern world, also made virtual slaves of countless young white children who dragged trucks in coal mines or worked long hours in cotton mills.

But it was part of the nature of the British to spotlight evils such as slavery and child exploitation and to stamp them out.

Are those who would meddle with out existing syllabuses not aware that the British Empire transformed the world? English is now the most widely spoken language and countless millions owe much to former British rule and influence.

At the end of his Rise and Fall of the British Empire Lawrence James quotes Nelson Mandela who once said: "You must remember I was brought up in a British school, and at the time Britain was the home of everything that was best in the world. I have not discarded the influence which Britain and British history and culture exercised on us."

ALAN HAYWARD

Romsley,

Halesowen.
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Aug 6, 1999
Words:367
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