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LONDON - Schools across the UK will be able to send two eleventh or twelfth grade students a year to visit Auschwitz and learn about the Holocaust, thanks to new government funding for the Holocaust Educational Trust (HET).
Minister of State for Schools Jim Knight announced on Monday that the government will provide Â£4.65m. of funding to the HET to support its Lessons from Auschwitz program for another three years. The London-based trust works in schools - as well as universities and the community - to raise awareness and understanding of the Holocaust and takes high school students, from an array of backgrounds and from across the country, to Auschwitz. In 2007 they took 3,000 students; this year the trust plans to take up to 4,000.
The experience provides a unique opportunity for students to learn about the Holocaust and its vital lessons. The visits are accompanied by a seminar in which students hear testimony from an Auschwitz survivor and also a post-visit follow-up seminar. Upon returning to their schools and local communities, students are required to disseminate what they learned to their peers through a range of activities and programs.
"I visited Auschwitz with the HET last November with students from across the country, it was a deeply moving experience, one that I will never forget," Knight said. "Sometimes getting out of the classroom and actually visiting the places where historic events happened can be the best way to truly grasp the enormity of what occurred.
"The pupils who visited with me were visibly moved and this funding will allow more students to visit Auschwitz and learn about the horror of the Holocaust. It is vital that future generations understand the lessons of Auschwitz both for its own importance, but also to understand other genocides and hate crimes."
"The Holocaust was one of the most horrific and profound events in world history and I want every young person to have an understanding of it," said Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families Ed Balls. "Over 60 years on there are still lessons that we can all learn from this and the funding we are announcing today is money wisely spent.
"Not only do young people visit the site of one of history's greatest atrocities, but they come back inspired to make a difference today. The incredible work they undertake in their communities to teach others about the dangers of prejudice and discrimination bears witness to this," Balls added.
"This announcement is a clear demonstration of the government's continued support for Holocaust education and the powerful impact of the Lessons from Auschwitz project," HET chief executive Karen Pollock said. "This is an essential added dimension to Holocaust education and we are grateful for the government's ongoing support."
Government ministers also issued a statement on Tuesday refuting a false rumor that circulated last year that Holocaust instruction has been removed from the national curriculum to avoid offending Muslims. The statement verified that the Holocaust remains a compulsory part of the curriculum for 11 to 14-year-old students.
"I want to put an end once and for all to the myth that the Holocaust is not being taught in schools or is being removed from the curriculum," Balls said. "I am pleased to confirm that this is absolutely not the case."
At a special event at the Imperial War Museum in London on Tuesday evening, Balls met youngsters from across the country who have already been on the visits to Auschwitz.
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