18th April 2022
GTC Scotland News

Entries for the Saroj Lal Award for a Pioneering Spirit in Equality and Diversity now open

The Award has been created to identify and celebrate the efforts of colleagues who demonstrate a pioneering spirit, determination and challenge adversity in a bid to promote and facilitate a culture and ethos of equality and diversity and actively challenge discrimination.

The Life and Work of Saroj Lal

Saroj Lal was a trailblazing teacher and campaigner in Scottish race relations. Born and educated in India, she migrated to the UK in the late 1960s. Saroj taught at Edinburgh’s South Morningside Primary School for 3 years and was among the earliest Asian primary school teachers in Scotland. She was known for wearing her colourful saris, red lipstick, and being fundamentally proud of her heritage.

Her BAME background and experience as a schoolteacher were central to her later work in multi-culturalism and anti-racist education. She would challenge perceptions throughout her career at the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) and Lothian Race Equality Council, fighting for equal representation of minority ethnic communities in the classroom, children’s literature and the media. She championed the BAME cause, setting up Edinburgh’s first dedicated ethnic library, developing minority arts and expanding mother tongue teaching citywide.

Education and women’s rights remained a priority: she encouraged girls to pursue higher education by creating the Asian Cultural Girls’ Club at Drummond High School and the Continuation Course at Telford College. She also broke new ground with Lothian and Borders Police, defining the nature of racial attacks and encouraging the monitoring of racist bullying in schools. She became the first Asian woman in Scotland to be appointed as a Justice of the Peace.

Her pioneering achievements remain an inspiration to many and she leaves a lasting legacy in Edinburgh.

The Award

Considering the lifetime achievements of Saroj, and her ongoing pioneering endeavours to fight for equality and diversity, it is with great pleasure that GTC Scotland honours The Saroj Lal Award for a Pioneering Spirit in Equality and Diversity. The Award has been created to identify and celebrate the efforts of colleagues who, like Saroj, actively challenge discrimination, demonstrating a pioneering spirit and determination, in a bid to promote and facilitate a culture and ethos of equality and diversity.

Applications are to be submitted using the Saroj Lal Award Microsoft Form and the application form is accompanied by supporting documentation listed below. The deadline for submissions is 1 September 2022.

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