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Holocaust Education – Is Scotland falling behind?

Daisy Stewart Henderson MSYP proposing her motion on stage at SYP77
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Unlike in England and much of Europe, there is no formal requirement for teachers to educate their pupils about the events of the Holocaust in Scottish schools.

I was alarmed by the lack of teaching on this topic at my own school, and the fact that because it is not a mandatory part of the curriculum some pupils miss out on learning about the Holocaust entirely. This is deeply disturbing to me, given the fact that less than half of respondents to a survey of UK adults knew that six million Jewish people were killed in the Holocaust.

After consulting with other young people and discovering that the inconsistency of Holocaust education is a problem throughout Scotland, I decided to put forward a Member’s Motion which stated:

“The Scottish Youth Parliament believes that Holocaust education should be mandatory in all Scottish secondary schools.”

Member’s Motion proposed at SYP77

Since 68% of MSYPs voted ‘yes’ to my motion, it became official SYP policy.

Now, I am calling on decision-makers to ask them to raise the issue of Holocaust education in parliament.

The benefits of Holocaust education are clear. Findings from Vision Schools Scotland, a collaboration between the University of the West of Scotland and the Holocaust Educational Trust, found that children aged ten to twelve demonstrated more positive attitudes towards minorities after studying the Holocaust.

Additionally, by making Holocaust education mandatory, we can create national guidance for teachers on how to tackle difficult conversations so that this challenging topic is not mishandled and pupils throughout Scotland reap the benefits from being taught about it.

It is important to understand the horrors of the past so that they may never be repeated. In his memoir Night, Nobel Peace Prize winner and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel writes:

“To forget the dead would not only be dangerous, but offensive; to forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time.”

– Elie Wiesel

Unfortunately, genocides have taken place since the Holocaust, such as in Rwanda and Cambodia, and there is an ongoing genocide of Uyghur Muslims taking place in China. By studying the extreme example of the Holocaust, young people develop an understanding of the nature of genocide itself.

For these reasons, myself and other young people across Scotland are urging decision makers to make introducing mandatory Holocaust education in secondary schools a priority.

If you think Holocaust education should be mandatory in Scottish secondary schools, you can send an email to or attend a surgery with your MSP to let them know this is an issue which is important to you (find your local MSP here).

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