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Last Updated: Sunday, 21 January 2007, 10:58 GMT
Schools 'must act on Brother row'
Alan Johnson
Alan Johnson wants teenagers to be taught about 'British values'
Schools should do more to teach core "British values" in light of the furore over Celebrity Big Brother, Education Secretary Alan Johnson has said.

He said the "ignorance and bigotry" shown on the Channel 4 reality show must be tackled.

The treatment of Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty showed schools needed to foster good community relations, he added.

Jade Goody, who was evicted from the show by a public vote, has apologised for her behaviour.

In an interview with the News of the World, Ms Goody said that she did not think she was racist: "but I accept I made racist comments".


She also admitted that she bullied Ms Shetty.

Her fees for the programme and the newspaper interview are being donated to charity.

Meanwhile Chairman of the Commission for Equality and Human Rights, Trevor Phillips, said Channel 4 must admit it had "got it wrong".

He called for the station's board to censure Channel 4 chairman Luke Johnson.

"Luke Johnson and his executives spent the whole week saying 'oh no, it's nothing to do with racism'," he told the BBC's Sunday AM.

"The board has to make it clear that they got it wrong. They intervened too little and too late."

The education secretary said that he wanted the world to talk about "the respect and understanding we give all cultures".

Mr Johnson is the latest politician to comment after thousands of viewers complained about the alleged racist bullying of Ms Shetty by the other Celebrity Big Brother contestants.

We want the world to be talking about the respect and understanding we give all cultures
Alan Johnson

The controversy over Ms Shetty's treatment escalated into an international incident last week, bringing condemnation from ministers and sparking the burning of effigies by angry crowds in India.

Mr Johnson said: "The current debate over Big Brother has highlighted the need to make sure our schools focus on the core British values of justice and tolerance.

"We want the world to be talking about the respect and understanding we give all cultures not the ignorance and bigotry shown on our TV screens."

But the Association of School and College Leaders said schools already did a lot to develop tolerance among young people.

Its general secretary, John Dunford, said: "Schools can hardly be blamed for one person's bigotry when the 82% who voted to eject Jade Goody are testament to the work already being done by schools to develop respect, understanding and tolerance."

Later this week a government-commissioned report into citizenship classes is expected to recommend a greater emphasis on the teaching of Britishness and the common values that bind communities together.

Mr Johnson says that, while children must be taught about British history, they should also have an understanding of cultural diversity.

Jade Goody leaving the Big Brother house

Big Brother controversy in quotes
20 Jan 07 |  Entertainment
Big Brother crashes into politics
17 Jan 07 |  UK Politics
When does ignorance become racism?
19 Jan 07 |  Magazine

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