Taxpayers fund research on ‘coloniality’ at university

The research suggested young children were affected by the long-term affects of colonialism
The research suggested young children were affected by the long-term affects of colonialism - E+

The effect of “coloniality” on young children is the subject of a taxpayer-funded study conducted by a postgraduate student at a leading university.

The research for a PhD at the University of Edinburgh, focuses on “home educating communities of colour”.

Researcher Pavithra Natarajan says the work has “been fashioned by the blood, sweat, tears, rage, frustration, joy in transformation and so much more from me, the communities I serve and that of my family.”

Her study explains that “since coloniality refers to the continued impact of the distribution of power and resources through the legacy of colonisation and imperialism, which we continue to remain in the midst of, it would be crucial to understand how home educating families of colour are impacted by ‘race’, class, gender and coloniality and how these inform and shape child-centred learning in the early years.”

In a biography for an upcoming conference, Natarajan (who uses the surname Sarma on social media and elsewhere) says she is “a Brown, cis woman from the city of Chennai [the capital city of Tamil Nadu] in the South of India”.

Natarajan is co-founder and co-director of the “Anti-Racism Early Years Collective, a collective of teachers, practitioners, academics and activists who are very passionate about Scotland being at the forefront of anti-racist practice in the Early Years”, in addition to being an activist and doula.

She often posts on X, formerly known as Twitter; on Tuesday she accused Edinburgh University of continuing its “its racist, shameful, disgraceful, dehumanising and colonialist traditions” and endorsing one post about “White & White adjacent clowns”. On October 7 last year, the day Hamas attacked Israel, she retweeted two posts calling for solidarity with Palestine.

Sarma’s research is funded by the Economic Social Research Council, a taxpayer-funded body. Scholars receive a stipend, approximately £17,668 for Sarma’s starting research year, 2022, as well as help with tuition fee payments. Her research lasts four years, meaning she is likely to have received at least £70,000 total in stipend fees.


Inaya Folarin Iman, founder of the Equiano Project, an ideas forum that debates race, culture and politics, told The Telegraph: “All children, regardless of race or gender, have been adversely impacted by the closure of schools during the pandemic. We need major investment in educational services across the board, not to be dividing children by race and other immutable characteristics.

“Schools have ploughed millions into ‘anti-racism’ initiatives over the last few years and there has been no evidence that this has improved educational outcomes at all. This is because ethnic minority children need the same thing as all children to thrive, and that’s quality teachers, a knowledge-rich education, high expectations and supportive parents – not a victimhood narrative.”

Lucy Marsh of the Family Education Trust said: “Accusations that academia is out of touch with reality are justified when taxpayers’ money is being wasted on pointless research like this.

“Not only is this project unnecessary, it’s indoctrinating very young children and their families to believe that they are victims of racism. Teaching children under five that they are ‘oppressed’ is extremely dangerous as it creates division within communities where we should be fostering cohesion and unity.

“Targeting families who don’t send their pre-school children to state-funded childcare appears to be a deliberate attempt to groom them with woke ideology about race and gender.

“Children should just be allowed to play and feel secure within their families at this age, not be indoctrinated by social justice activists who don’t even know what a woman is.

Alp Mehmet, Chairman of Migration Watch, added: “The taxpayer should not be funding such pointless, pre-concluding research. But for funds to go to an international student hellbent on showing how racist we are is pure madness.”

UKRI said: “UKRI invests in a diverse research and innovation portfolio. Decisions to fund the research projects we support are made via a rigorous peer review process by relevant independent experts from across academia and business.”

“The research councils also award block grants to higher education institutions to support PhD studentships. The institutions make decisions and allocate the funding to specific studentship proposals, following an application process.”

A University of Edinburgh spokesperson said: “All PhD studentships go through a rigorous peer review process, enabling early career researchers to study, question and contribute to their areas of specialism.

“As a world-leading research-intensive university, we will continue to facilitate an environment where students and staff are free to think critically and engage with different perspectives in their work.”