Full letter to the Guardian, published 14 January 2003
Dear Guardian Education letters
Diane Taylor’s report on opposition to segregated education for asylum seeking children begins to tell the truth about what many communities feel on this issue. (Worlds Apart, Guardian 7 January) As mothers who have mobilised with teachers, other carers and children to oppose segregated education, we know that government and media hype about swamping by asylum seekers is aimed at hiding and defeating a widespread pro-education, pro-refugee, anti-racist movement.
Home Secretary David Blunkett made clear that this movement is what the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act is targeting: "It is virtually impossible to drag a family away from a neighbourhood school. Local papers run local campaigns to stop people being removed." (Commons debate 11 June 2002) Despite considerable efforts, the government has not been able to find anyone ready to support segregated education.
More and more people, from students to pensioners and workers in the fire service, are objecting that a government which says it cannot afford grants, pensions or decent wages, has money for war. Just as relevant is that it continues to sell arms to dictatorships around the world. But mothers and children who come here to escape the resulting slaughter, poverty and repression, are detained and deported without regard for their safety. Are the new detention centres part of the preparation for a war on Iraq which will inevitably bring many more asylum seekers?
If we allow this apartheid in our schools, what other apartheid will become government policy, dividing and denying us further? Many of us celebrated the end of separate education in South Africa. Separate is never equal – we won’t have it here.
Our campaign continues to meet to discuss our next move. If you are interested, please get in touch.
No School Apartheid!