Decolonising The School Curriculum – What Does It Mean?


The impact of representation in school curriculum can not be overemphasized.  Students from diverse races will benefit significantly from learning about their history, struggles, heroes and the general contribution of their race towards societal advancement over the years. However, the present reality is that the school curriculum is exclusionary towards the black race. Hence, the need to decolonize the curriculum.

History is a very significant part of human learning. Our understanding of the past largely influences how we live the present, hence, the need to learn our history, most importantly, without misrepresentation. With racial inequality being one of the key issues today, it has become more critical than ever to teach students the history of all races and their contribution to the nation’s development. This would encourage mutual respect and appreciation among students of different races.

 The black community now believes that the British Empire and European imperialism, which is deeply rooted in the white supremacy ideology to exploit the black labor in the colonies, is reflective in the UK school curriculum. In the past decade, and has brought up questions like “Why is my curriculum white?”

In simple terms, colonialism is domination; it is the domination of a group of people by another. It is often challenging to distinguish colonialism from imperialism, in conceptual terms; they are both treated as synonyms, they both involve political and economic control over a dependent territory. However, the simplest way to distinguish these two is to think of colonialism as a practice and imperialism as the idea that drives the practice.

 Colonialism might be held to have done people of colour some good, i.e., propagation of democracy, basic human rights as well as infrastructure and development. But it still has a controversial history, one that brings reflections of injustice, brutalities and enslavements inflicted by the colonial masters on the ancestral lineage of people of colour.

 Today, the blacks refer to this history of colonialism as a forgotten one, as it is not reflected in the British higher education. This is believed to have a negative contribution to racism in the UK. The Black Lives Matter protesters are now moving the motion that the curriculum should not only be limited to the addition of black and non-western to reading lists but should extend to the reformation of the current learning methods, which was established based on imperial and colonial ideas about knowledge and learning.

The struggle for decolonization has taken a historical trend. It is responsible for the modern-day system of states through the release of revolutionary forces. Decolonization is the process of revealing and resisting all forms of colonialist power. It includes dismantling latent aspects of institutional and cultural forces that have maintained colonialist power after political independence has been achieved.

It is widely believed that the colonial masters deliberately structured the British curriculum, such that it is exclusionary about black people’s contributions to national development, this can be attributed to the present-day system, which is still very much infiltrated by these ideologies. In the UK, where racism cases are rampant, there is a need to decolonize the people’s mind, knowledge, language, and culture. To achieve this, it is essential to carefully examine how education has served hegemonic interests.

Basically, decolonizing the curriculum is a way of conceding that knowledge is owned by all. It is a collection of resources available for all, irrespective of race, ethnicity, classes, and genders. It is a way of showing that the present-day intellectual achievements and progress are results of the roles and contributions of individuals from different races.

 It is globally believed, mostly by the black community, that just like the world is shaped by the colonial ideology that whites are at the top of social hierarchy, the school curriculum was fine-tuned to give significance to this ideology, hence, the need to restructure/decolonize the current curriculum so as to be more inclusive instead of elevating the history, way of life and contributions of the whites.

There should be collaborations, discussion, and experimentation among students and lecturers across all universities and educational institutes to effectively decolonize the school curriculum. Unfortunately, the bid to decolonize curriculum in UK universities is not taking a good toll. There are needs for more public talks that aim at discussing in detail the pros and cons of decolonizing the curriculum across all university departments.

Decolonizing the UK school curriculum is pivotal to race relations as all students will be engaged in school work that will stimulate and widen their view on race equality and discriminatory practices. Students will understand the history and culture of different races, this will improve interaction among students and in the society at large. Also, more relevance will be given to intellectual works by smart and diligent people of colour, this will improve the flourishing economy and infrastructural development of UK.