On human suffering

20th April 2007 at 01:00
A new online resource provides material on Scotland's role in the transatlantic slave trade

TWO HUNDRED years ago an act of parliament ended Britain's prominent role in the transatlantic slave trade. If only slavery itself could be abolished so easily.

At the beginning of this century, according to a new online resource from Learning and Teaching Scotland, "millions of men, women and children are forced to work... and may even be traded or sold as property".

The new resource is about our past, present and future. It takes a close and often uncomfortable look at the leading role this country played in the time-honoured practice of buying and selling human beings, and working them to death. The uphill struggle to abolish slavery is examined.

A key section for teachers looks at modern slavery and its legacy of racism, poverty and inequality. This links to a film on the plight of an estimated 200 million child labourers around the world.

There are links to Anti-Slavery International, to reports from Amnesty International and Save the Children on human trafficking in Scotland today, and to organisations such as Fairtrade and Rugmark, which aim to improve conditions for the producers by educating the consumers.

The focus is on the Scottish experience, explains the teachers' area, because there were "distinctive features to the campaign in Scotland" where Kirk and law courts took their "own view on the institution of slavery and acted accordingly."

Guidance in the teachers' area covers planning, additional resources and notes on the language and images, shocking today, that were used by "respectable" people in the past to help them demean and despise their fellow human beings.

Two hundred years after the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act, slavery still exists, around the world and even in Scotland. The abolitionists of the past provide "an excellent model of how to mount a peaceful protest campaign to end a great social injustice," says the new LTS resource.

Scotland and the Abolition of the Transatlantic Slave Trade has been developed for Scottish primary and early secondary schools to mark the bicentenary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act.

* www.ltscotland.org.ukabolition

Further resources Two sections of the new online resource provide links to further resources and information on slavery. These include: Freedom for All. Online resources from Action of Churches Together in Scotland. http:scotlandandslavery.org.uk

National Archives of Scotland Online Resources.

www.nas.gov.ukabout101006.asp

Scotland and the Slave Trade. Com-missioned by the Executive and written by historians for a young audience.

www.scotland.gov.ukPublications200703231216220

National Library of Scotland. Music CDs, teachers' packs, schools workshops and CPD. Beverley Casebow E b.casebow@nls.uk National Trust for Scotland. Workshops, open weekend, performances, readings and displays at NTS sites. Archaeological excavation at Culzean in search of the ex-slave Scipio's house.

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