Has Holocaust education failed?
Sydney Uni leads inquiry

Has Holocaust education failed?

The University of Sydney is leading research into the effectiveness of current Holocaust education.

The Sydney Jewish Museum runs extensive Holocaust education programs.
The Sydney Jewish Museum runs extensive Holocaust education programs.

The University of Sydney, in partnership with major Australian Holocaust museums, will lead a first-of-its-kind inquiry into the long-term effectiveness of Holocaust education programs in Australia.

Holocaust expert Professor Avril Alba will lead the research team, working closely with the Sydney Jewish Museum, the Melbourne Holocaust Museum, the Adelaide Holocaust Museum–Andrew Steiner Education Centre, as well as scholars from Deakin University and UTS.

Alba is a leading historian focusing on modern Jewish history and contemporary Jewish and Holocaust museums.

“Given the rise of racism, antisemitism, Islamophobia and extremism, both in Australia and abroad, a key goal of the research is to chart and measure whether, and to what extent, Holocaust education programs empower students to make informed connections between historical events and contemporary issues such as human rights and racism,” Alba said.

“There is a pressing need to understand how learning can be more effective in countering the current rise in racist, antisemitic, and religiously motivated attacks in Australia and internationally.

“Such work cannot be based on assumptions – it must be rigorously tested. The success of these educational initiatives is essential, as they link directly to the social cohesion of current and future generations of Australians.”

Holocaust programs rely on the use of personal, audio-visual, written and material forms of story‑telling and Alba and her team will evaluate both the immediate and long-term impact of these forms of testimony.

The project will also provide an Australian contribution to a growing international area of research by generating insights about the Holocaust, genocide and human rights education that may benefit similar institutions worldwide.

CEO of the Sydney Jewish Museum Kevin Sumption said: “Each year, over 30,000 students visit the Sydney Jewish Museum to learn about the history of the Holocaust and the dangers of racism and discrimination.

“While we have a lot of data about the immediate impact these programs are having on students, we don’t have visibility of how our programs are impacting the values, beliefs and actions of young people – our future active citizens – for the long term.

“This new collaborative inquiry will deliver important insights that can then be used to improve our programs.”

read more: