By: Sattwik Biswal
BIRMINGHAM CITY captain has called for the teaching of black, Asian and minority ethnic history and experiences to be part of school curriculum.
Troy Deeney, who is also a anti-racism campaigner says it is important to inform about discriminatory stereotypes from an early age.
Deeney has published the results of a YouGov survey he had commissioned and has also released an open letter to Nadhim Zahawi, secretary of state for education.
According to the study, Deeney said majority of school teachers who took part feel the school system has a racial bias, while only 12 per cent want to teach diverse topics.
“I believe the current system is failing children from ethnic minorities,” the 33-year-old striker told Zahawi in the open letter. “I urge you…to review this topic again.”
A spokesperson from department for education responded and said the curriculum “offers pupils the opportunity to study significant figures from black and ethnic minority backgrounds and the contributions they have made to the nation”.
Zahawi also responded, tweeting “Troy, thank you for raising this important issue. It would be good to discuss this with you and I will ask my team to reach out.”
During the Black Lives Matter campaign, at his former club Watford, Deeney had taken a lead role in Premier League players taking a knee for the first time in 2020 after top flight football’s resumption.
In his open letter he wrote: “Twenty months ago, I was kneeling alongside my colleagues in the centre of a football pitch.
“Now, nearly two years on from the death of George Floyd and the tidal wave of outrage that followed, an eerie quiet seems to have descended on national cultural debate and the issues raised have receded from the news agenda.
“Yet in that time both myself and my family have continued to experience vile racist abuse on social media and, at times, in public, emboldening me even further to use my platform to keep the conversation at the forefront of people’s minds, campaign for change and not to let this movement and its momentum just fade away.”
Talking about himself, Deeney said he struggled growing up with a Jamaican father and mother of Irish heritage.
He told BBC Sport: “The best part about my school in terms of black history was I got to watch [American TV series] Roots at school, which is about slavery. That was it.
“In regards to my own children, I see what they’re talking about and, more broadly, the lack of things that they’re talking about.
“I always find it quite disheartening that the only representation we have from a black perspective is always one I consider negative. We always learn about the slave trade and things like that – and there’s a lot more.
“I just realised that everyone’s got a different lens on the world. So why not, at a more youthful level, try to open everyone’s eyes a little bit more and open their minds a bit more?”
The YouGov survey commissioned by Deeney earlier this month had reached out to 1,107 teachers, with 54 per cent of respondents saying the national school curriculum does have a racial bias, while 72 per cent feel the government should do more to support teaching of cultural diversity.
“We’ve done research, we’ve commissioned surveys, teachers are not feeling empowered” he added.
“I think that’s very dangerous because the people we’re putting in charge to teach our kids don’t feel confident enough within their role to talk about subjects that are happening in the world.
“When you talk about history, it massively comes under this taboo like, ‘let’s not talk about it, let’s not disrespect what’s gone on before’ – and nobody wants to do that.
“I’ve never asked for anything to be removed, maybe just add a bit more.
“You see what’s happening in Wales now. It’s mandatory that diversity is taught across the whole school curriculum, from every subject. It’s more diverse, more engaging with the times that we currently live in.”