Naming school after Saroj Lal, Edinburgh's first ethnic-minority teacher and a race relations campaigner, would be fitting tribute – Steve Cardownie

It was nice to hear that the new primary school being built at Canaan Lane in Morningside might be named after Saroj Lal, the first ethnic minority school teacher in Edinburgh.

Wednesday, 23rd June 2021, 12:30 pm
Saroj Lal became Edinburgh's first teacher from an ethnic minority in the early 1970s

Sadly, Saroj passed away in March last year but she will always be remembered for her contribution to race relations and the need to embrace and understand cultures and traditions of peoples throughout the world.

As a director of Lothian Racial Equality Council, she was at the forefront of race relations at a difficult time and was pivotal in taking the organisation forward, making it an influential player within the region.

She was responsible for revising and updating the Religions and Cultures Guide that is widely used by the NHS, as well as setting up the first ever interpreting and translating service at McDonald Road Library.

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Saroj Lal: Pioneering race relations campaigner may have Edinburgh school named ...

She also worked with the police to form a definition of racist incidents which helped to develop police training and led to her becoming the first Asian woman in Scotland to be appointed as a Justice of the Peace.

She never raised her voice in anger and always put you at ease with her engaging smile and her genuine willingness to listen to what you had to say.

When she heard that I was going to Bangalore, she invited me to her house for tea and said that she had told members of her family there that I was going and that they would contact me to show me around, which they did and for which I will always be grateful.

A primary school named after her would be a fitting tribute.

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