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TEACHERS of Chinese and other minority-ethnic origin are being subjected to racist name-calling and intimidation in schools as fears of the coronavirus spread, a union warned today.
The NASUWT teachers’ union said that reports by its members of abuse, prejudice, xenophobia and racism in schools have increased since the outbreak reached Britain.
The union said that there had been a report of groups of pupils playing an “unsavoury” game of tag named after the coronavirus.
In letters to Education Secretary Gavin Williamson and his counterparts in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, NASUWT warned of pupils and school staff being verbally and physically abused on “grounds that appear to be racially motivated.”
The union is calling on education ministers to extend the coronavirus guidance that has already been issued to schools to address racist incidents related to the outbreak.
NASUWT acting general secretary Chris Keates said: “The NASUWT is extremely concerned at the extent of increased incidence of abuse, prejudice, xenophobia and racism as a result of the coronavirus.
“Misinformation and false reporting about the coronavirus, its causes and how it is spread have fuelled fear and panic and in some cases led to the ostracising of people of East Asian heritage and others perceived to be ‘foreign’ or an ‘immigrant’ within the UK.
“Unfortunately, schools and colleges are not exempt from the associated xenophobic and racialised stereotyping of Chinese and other East Asian people.
“The NASUWT has received reports of increased covert and overt racial attacks perpetrated against some minority-ethnic pupils and NASUWT members linked to coronavirus concerns.”
The warning comes after reports of verbal and physical abuse linked to the outbreak.
Singaporean student Jonathan Mok was set upon by a group of men and a woman as he walked along Oxford Street in central London on February 24.
He said that one of the attackers told him: “I don’t want your coronavirus in my country.”
And last month, China’s ambassador to Britain, Liu Xiaoming, said that the Chinese embassy had received reports of racism from universities “and even in some middle schools and primary schools.”
Ms Keates added: “The NASUWT is urging the Department for Education to communicate with schools and provide guidance and support for school leaders.”
The National Education Union also criticised the government’s handling of issues relating to the virus outbreak and said that it had a responsibility to “set a tone.”
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