Two pupils from every school and college in Scotland will visit Auschwitz-Birkenau after the Scottish Government announced an increase in Holocaust education funding.
First Minister Alex Salmond has pledged £510,000 over the next two years to back the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Lessons from Auschwitz project, through which pupils over 16 go on day trips to Auschwitz and have seminars with Shoah survivors. The financial commitment is a slight improvement on the previous allocation.
Mr Salmond made the announcement at an HET event at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, where he met HET ambassadors from across Scotland, who told him of their experiences of the project.
More than 1,000 Scottish pupils have participated in Lessons from Auschwitz since 2009.
“The HET do an incredible amount of valuable work in making sure that we never forget the atrocities of the Holocaust and the victims of the Second World War,” Mr Salmond said.
“It is absolutely crucial that future generations continue to remember the victims of the Holocaust and that we provide them with an opportunity to learn from the lessons of history.”
HET chief executive Karen Pollock was “delighted” with the funding agreement. “The support we receive from the Scottish Government makes the project possible and we are enormously grateful,” she said.
Among the ambassadors was Mhiara Mackenzie, who went to Poland with the project in 2009. She said it had been a life-changing experience.
“Seeing Auschwitz-Birkenau with my own eyes made me appreciate how much people suffered during the Holocaust. I’m so pleased that other young people in Scotland will be able to have the opportunity that I had.”
Lessons from Auschwitz started in 1999 and first received British Government funding in 2006. More than 20,000 students have taken part.
Foyle MP Mark Durkan asked a Parliamentary question in February about the lack of funding for the project from the Northern Ireland Assembly’s executive.