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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 October, 2003, 15:50 GMT 16:50 UK
Anti-racism fight in schools
Natasha Powell and Ceri Wareham celebrate Diwali
Natasha Powell and Ceri Wareham read about Diwali
A north Wales headteacher says children are the key to stamping out racist attitudes once and for all.

Jan Neil from Hafod-Y-Wern Junior School in Caia Park, Wrexham spoke out after five policemen - including one from north Wales resigned from their posts after making racist comments to an undercover BBC journalist.

On Wednesday, two members of North Wales Police were addressing pupils at the school about the need to combat racism.

"The two police officers who came here were absolutely gutted at the programme, they'd watched it....and they were horrified at what they'd seen," said Mrs Neil.

Five officers from the Greater Manchester, Cheshire and North Wales forces have resigned since the programme was broadcast.

I don't think any child's born racist, I think they learn to be racist
Jan Neil Headteacher

A further three remain suspended.

Mrs Neil believes no child is born racist and feels education is the only way to eradicate the behaviour.

Her 173 pupils celebrate the majority of religious festivals every year.

"One pupil said 'It's not what you look like on the outside, it's what you're like on the inside', we all know that to be true and as long as children can hold onto that, racism would be eradicated," she said.

"I don't think any child's born racist, I think they learn to be racist so obviously by talking to them at a very young age you're able to get them to understand that people are different."

"We make sure our literacy covers all nationalities so that the children understand and we have discussions about the news.

Diwali is the Hindu festival of lights

"We're having a multi-cultural storyteller, she's actually a lady from Ghana and these are very positive role models for the children," said Mrs Neil.

"We're educating children to take part in the whole world, not just to live here for the rest of their life so it's important that they know what the rest of the world's like.

"If they go to live in London, they have a much more diverse society there and we want our children to be able to have an understanding and a tolerance and respect for other people.

Following Wednesday's visit by officers from North Wales Police, children have been asked to write poetry about racism.

They also celebrated Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights.

The festival celebrates the victory of good over evil, light over darkness, and knowledge over ignorance.

"It's nice to celebrate other festivals sometimes," said 10-year-old Natasha Powell.

"They have different ways and they dress up nice and sparkly," she added.

Her classmate Ceri Wareham, 10, said she enjoyed writing her poetry.

"We've been writing about racism and how you would feel if you were being abused by people in the streets.

"It helps us learn about how we should feel about other children who aren't our colour and who don't talk like us.

"You shouldn't pick on other children because it's not fair."

Pc denies racism allegation
23 Oct 03  |  Wales
Officer in racism claims named
21 Oct 03  |  Wales



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