Lake Macquarie High School investigated over pro-slavery assignment

The student who shared an “insulting” school assignment on social media has explained why she decided to go public with it.

An NSW school assignment that gave students the option to argue in support of the slave trade is under investigation.

Lake Macquarie High School, south of Newcastle, came under fire after the history assignment handed out earlier this month was shared on social media.

It gave students the option to write as the US Economy Minister where “your report will argue for the continuation of the Slave Trade” or as the US Human Rights Minister where “your report wants to stop Slave Trade”.

For those arguing in support of slavery, students were told to outline “the positive contribution” slaves made to economies in Africa, England and the US.

They were instructed to present their viewpoint from an “empathetic perspective”, which was described as “understand from the viewpoint of the people involved”.

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Maria Alier shared the assignment on Instagram, which she had received from a friend of African descent whose siblings were in the class.

She claimed the students were even told by the teacher that if they wrote a report advocating for slavery, they were more likely to receive higher marks.

Ms Alier said she was “initially baffled and then quickly insulted” by the assignment brief and could not understand how it had not stopped along the way before it was handed to students.

“Asking kids to justify the unjustifiable and argue for the continuation of indescribably painful and Cruel practice such as slavery sends their easily impressionable adolescent Minds to the very right wing material that could manipulate even the now forward thinking kids into a rabbit hole of bigotry and prejudice, ”she told of her Reasoning to share the assignment on social media and encourage people to contact the school and the department of education to voice their concerns.

“No one is saying that we can’t learn about slavery or the injustices of the past, but it is not correct to sit there and justify them.”

Ms Alier pointed out it wouldn’t be appropriate to justify the Holocaust or the Stolen Generations, so she couldn’t understand how educators thought it would be for the slave trade.

Commenters on Ms Alier’s Instagram post praised her for publishing the issue, and others shared their reactions on TikTok.

“As a person who has been racially abused for being black in the past, thank you,” one woman wrote. “Thank you so much, you are spreading information and Empowering other people to speak out about injustice.”

Another replied: “This is honestly so disgusting that a school will allow this. thank you for sharing this! The school / teachers need to be held accountable. ”

Jagorda Manyuon, the older sister of students in the class, told Pedestrian her family received a verbal Apology from the principal after persistent complaints were made.

“[They] said ‘I’m not a racist’ and I get that. Okay, cool you’re not a racist – but can you still do something about this? What’s being done? ” she said.

“I’m not sure an apology is enough. These things will just keep happening. ”

The NSW department of education confirmed to it was “aware of an allegation of inappropriate content appearing in an assessment task” at the school and was investigating.

“The Department has had an Anti-Racism Policy in place for 30 years,” a Spokesman said.

“It promotes respect for people from all cultural, linguistic and religious backgrounds and rejects all forms of racism in schools and department offices.”

Ms Alier said what she wanted to come out of the investigation was a public Apology to African students, how the department plans to ensure it doesn’t happen again, and better implementation of the school’s anti-racism policy and training.

An earlier version of this story incorrectly named Lithgow High School as a school where a former relief principal suggested “better breeding” would improve results.


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