Not in the name of mothers, teachers and other carers
NO SCHOOL APARTHEID
UPDATE . . . UPDATE . . . UPDATE . . . UPDATE . . . UPDATE . . . UPDATE . . .
The No Schools Apartheid Campaign (NSA), led by mothers, has been extraordinarily effective. It brought together a diverse network of people including parents and other carers, teachers, professionals, charities, refugee rights and church groups.
On 9 October 2002 the amendment against government proposals to deny asylum seeker children access to mainstream schools, put forward by the Bishop of Portsmouth was won by one vote. The lively and well attended No Schools Apartheid briefing the night before was referred to repeatedly in their debate and no doubt helped win the vote. As the Bill went back to the Commons on 4 November, we organised another briefing for MPs. Although the government later won the vote, overturning the Lords amendment, 42 Labour MPs voted against it and many more abstained. We also helped ensure that the Liberal Democrats voted against the government and were not able to make a deal as they had done previously in the Commons.
The Bill then returned to the Lords and despite pressure on the peers to accept the Commons decision, they did force it to a vote again. Again the debate was very good and those on our side, in particular the Bishop of Portsmouth, Lord Bhatia, Lord Dholakia, Lord Judd, Lord Parekh and Lord Moser, spoke very well often from their own experience as refugees or the children of refugees. The vote in the Lords was 84 for segregation and 52 against, so it was lost but the government was forced into all kinds of manoeuvres and was seen to be pushing it through at any cost.
As parents and teachers who have come together to defend the right of all children and their families to be together and to have access to a compassionate, non-discriminatory and multiracial education, we are determined to pursue this. There is now a big question over whether the government will be able to implement schools segregation because the opposition has been so ferocious and widespread. They were not able to find one organisation, or school, ready to support it – in the past some of the voluntary organisations have accepted funding to implement other repressive measures. We will now focus on stopping the implementation of the government’s plans, including calling for non-co-operation from those Blunkett will depend on to open the accommodation centres.
What you can do:
·Ask your school, nursery, local education authority to protest -- send them your letter and tell them the community feels strongly about it.
·Send your letters to local press, educational journals, education editors, and any school TV or radio programmes and ask them to cover it.
·Contact teachers' association/trade unions and ask them to get their branches to write and to call for non-co-operation with accommodation and other detention centres. Ask them to publish information in their journals and on their websites.
Co-ordinated by mothers with the support of Legal
Action for Women