First Minister says he will explore possibility of BAME museum for Wales

First Minister Mark Drakeford. Picture by the Welsh Government.

The First Minister has said that he will look into the possibility of a BAME museum for Wales, and that the Education Minister will look again at including BAME history as a core part of the curriculum.

Mark Drakeford was responding to questions from Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price regarding whether he would back a BAME museum and the inclusion of BAME history on the national curriculum in Wales.

He said that he would be “very happy” to look at it but that he wanted it to be a “living museum” not one focused solely on the past.

“I’ve had the privilege on a number of occasions in recent times of helping award recognition to young people from the black community as part of black history month and the message I try and convey to them in that event is that they are creating their history today,” Mark Drakeford said.

“The history doesn’t belong to the past. History is something we are all engaging in producing ourselves. and they have agency themselves as hugely valued and talented young black people here in Wales.

“So I am very happy to look at it but I very much want it to be part of celebrating contemporary Wales, the contribution that black communities make and the way that they shape Wales into the future, as well as looking at their experience of shaping Wales in the past.”

He went on to say that recent events had “shone a spotlight” on the subject of the teaching of history in Welsh schools.

The new curriculum developed by the Education Secretary Kirsty Williams currently includes no requirement to teach certain events or specific content.

“I know my colleague Kirsty Williams will be wanting to work again with those who have been advising us on the new curriculum on the way that it is to be developed and delivered to make sure that we are capturing the lessons of the past few weeks,” Mark Drakeford said.

“I think this is a matter for every school in Wales, whatever the local makeup of a population might be. It is just as important that children where black communities have been less present to understand that history as it is for young people who are part of that community themselves.”

 

‘Understanding’

On the topic of statues and memorials to those involved in Wales colonial past, the First Minister said that they were working with other authorities on the subject.

“It’s important that we remember our past and the part that Wales played in the events of the past, but we don’t want to celebrate those things, we want to educate and remember but not celebrate,” he said.

“And that is why we are working with local authorities and others in Wales in order to consider whether there are things that are still being displayed at the moment which would be better placed in a museum so that they are part of our history and so that we don’t forget that history but neither should be celebrating it and we are still working with others across Wales to consider that issue.”

Speaking shortly after First Minister’s Questions, Adam Price said that he welcomed the First Minister’s “positive commitment” to exploring a national museum of BAME history for Wales.

“The Welsh Government currently funds a woollen, maritime, industrial, slate and coal museum, and there is also a separate proposal for a military medicine museum in what was Tiger Bay,” he said. “There is an obvious gap.

“Recent events have reminded us that we all have much to learn about the history of Wales’s BAME communities and their role in shaping our nation as it is today.

“Such a museum would help develop our collective understanding and foster greater respect within our society. As the First Minister said, this should be a ‘living’ museum which weds the historical and the contemporary.

“I also urged the First Minister to ensure that black history is taught in every school in Wales so that each child grows up with a greater understanding of our nation’s rich heritage.

“It was heartening to hear that the Education Minister will look again at this issue as she prepares to introduce the new curriculum.”

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