Ministers to fund ‘Lessons from Auschwitz’ Project in schools

Date published: 24 January 2017

Education Minister, Peter Weir, and Communities Minister, Paul Givan, are to provide funding of £180,000 to enable the Holocaust Educational Trust to deliver its ‘Lessons from Auschwitz’ Project to Northern Ireland’s schools and colleges.

The announcement was made during a visit to Ards and North Down Museum where the Ministers had the opportunity to see a Holocaust exhibition which explores the history of the Kindertransport – the organised rescue effort that took place to bring Jewish children to the UK during the nine months prior to the outbreak of the Second World War. 

Speaking today, Minister Weir said:

“History is an essential part of the school curriculum in Northern Ireland and it is important that we remember events such as the Holocaust and learn from them.  We must ensure our young people have an understanding of what went on and that they see where hatred, prejudice and intolerance can ultimately lead. The ‘Lessons from Auschwitz’ Project will be an extremely worthwhile and rewarding experience for our young people.”

The Holocaust Educational Trust’s ‘Lessons from Auschwitz’ Project for post-16 students and teachers is now in its seventeenth year and has taken over 31,000 students and teachers from across the UK to the Nazi concentration and death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. The four-part course is open to two students from every school and college in England, Scotland and Wales, will be offered to Northern Ireland students for the first time since 2008.

In March, schools and colleges across Northern Ireland will have the opportunity to participate in the Project. 

Communities Minister, Paul Givan, said:

“My Department is delighted to fund ‘Lessons from Auschwitz’. These are not just lessons from the past but lessons to be learned for today. The Holocaust was the most horrific event in all our history and unfortunately atrocities continue to take place across the world. It is important that the next generation of young people build a better world based on tolerance and mutual respect.”

Karen Pollock MBE, Chief Executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said:

“We are delighted that we will now be able to bring the ‘Lessons from Auschwitz’ Project to students in Northern Ireland. Thanks to this funding young people across Northern Ireland will have a life changing opportunity - alongside students from the rest of the UK.

“The Holocaust was the darkest episode in our shared history – the systematic, industrialised murder of six million people just because they were Jewish. As the young people who participate visit the notorious concentration and death camp, they become witnesses to the place that symbolises the depths of man’s inhumanity to man. Not only will they be tasked with the responsibility to remember, but also with the responsibility to consider how they, the next generation, can make a positive difference. We are looking forward to getting started!”

Further information on the project will be provided on the Holocaust Education Trust website. Schools and colleges will be contacted directly by the organisation.

Notes to editors: 

  1. The ‘ Project incorporates a one-day visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau. The visits, combined with Orientation and Follow-up seminars, leave an unforgettable emotional and educational mark on participants. The Project aims to increase knowledge and understanding of the Holocaust based on the premise that ‘hearing is not like seeing’ and to signal what can happen if prejudice and racism become acceptable.
  2. Follow us on Twitter @Education_NI
  3. See photos from the Department of Education in our flickr collection.
  4. Media enquiries to the Department of Education Press Office Tel: 028 9127 9207. Out of office hours, contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 0762 397 4383 and your call will be returned.

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