Wednesday, January 9, 2013

"the Holocaust [will] now be included in the mandatory world history overview for years 9 and 10 in the new national [Australian ]curriculum"

  • "Study of Holocaust mandated for schools", by Anna Patty, dated December 8, 2012, downloaded from The Sydney Morning Herald's website:
    That article came to my attention via the version published under the same headline and with the same byline on p. 7 of the main "NEWS" section of the Weekend Edition of The Sydney Morning Herald, December 8-9, 2012, No. 54656, ISSN 0312-6315. Note that the first paragraph of the print version differs from that of the current online version. This is my transcription of the first paragraph of the print version:
    THE study of the Holocaust will become compulsory for all NSW school students in years 9 and 10 after a lobbying campaign by the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies prompted the state government to include it in the syllabus.
    Google searching indicates that the websites of some of Fairfax's regional mastheads still carry the original version, but, oddly, when I went to the web-pages for the first three of those newspapers to come up in the results, the first paragraph was the new one.
    I'm not sure why Fairfax made that 'clarification'. Perhaps the Jewish Board of Deputies did not alone prompt the curriculum change, but surely it was indeed a factor (and perhaps the decisive one) in the prompting of that change? Maybe the Herald made the 'clarification' because the Australian Curriculum, Assessment, and Reporting Authority (A.C.A.R.A.) is a Federal rather than a State organ, and the Jewish Board of Deputies' lobbying was of the New South Wales (State) organs, the Board of Studies and (State, not Federal, judging by the context) Department of Education. But that would just mean that the influence of the Jewish Board of Deputies over the Federally-set curriculum was indirect—passing by way of the aforementioned State organs—rather than direct; but then, the 'clarified' first paragraph still says that "the Jewish Board of Deputies lobbied the state government for the curriculum change" (my emphasis), and it's the Federal organ, the A.C.A.R.A., which sets the curriculum, which (curriculum) New South Wales, and presumably the other States and Territories, implements through new syllabuses.
Mr. Benson was one of the participants in "the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies’ annual Journalists Mission to Israel" last November. Another participant in that "study tour" was the editor of the Herald for the day on which Ms Patty's article was published, namely, Judith Whelan. (The Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council was also involved with that tour, though it was the N.S.W. Jewish Board of Deputies, not the A.I.J.A.C., which sponsored Ms Whelan and Mr. Benson. (The A.I.J.A.C. sponsored other journalists on the same tour.)) As for Mr. Govorcin, the only person named as a source in his article, namely, Anthony Cleary, was a couple of years ago a recipient of "a scholarship from the Gandel Foundation and Yad Vashem" for attending an international programme in Jerusalem in order "to develop a greater understanding of the Holocaust which he can then share with teachers and students in Australia".

Here is how I would summarise the information in the three articles:
  • From 2014, it will be mandatory for all Australian Year 9 and 10 History pupils to study "the Holocaust … as a major world event along with World War II in the 20th-century world history curriculum."
  • That comes after private lobbying of a very favourably-disposed New South Wales Board of Studies and Department of Education by the N.S.W. Jewish Board of Deputies for at least about three years, concluding in November 2012, though the Board of Deputies made no public submission to the Board of Studies during the consultation phase for the drafting of the new New South Wales syllabus (by which New South Wales, and presumably the other States and Territories, mutatis mutandis, implements the new national curriculum).
  • The mandatory inclusion means that Australian classes "will mirror compulsory Holocaust classes in most US states, the UK and many European countries".
  • The N.S.W. Jewish Board of Deputies "is now calling on the Gillard government to join about 28 other Western nations and sign up to the Task Force for International Co-operation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research."
  • As for nominally Catholic schools, the mandatory inclusion "has the capacity to try to advance genuine inter-faith dialogue and relations, says Anthony Cleary, director of religious education and evangelisation for the Catholic Education Office Sydney."
  • Mr. Cleary also says that “The Catholic Education Office has a wonderful working relationship with the NSW Board of Jewish Deputies and we consider that this would be another project that we could work in partnership on.”
Finally, here are a few links to related material which I found through Google, together with their respective excerpts of interest in the present context:
    The only mention of the Holocaust in the NSW syllabus for Years 7-10 is in the beginning, with the rationale for the course starting with a quotation from a Holocaust survivor about the importance of learning history.[ … ]The NSW Jewish Board of Deputies said yesterday it had been concerned for some time about the omission of the Holocaust from school history, and was working with the education department and the board of studies on the issue.
Reginaldvs Cantvar