London

General Muhammad Osmani may be dropped from school name

Protest against school name change
Image caption The Mayor of Tower Hamlets said it was "quite wrenching" how the East End has changed

A school in east London has been accused of trying to remove the identity of a Bangladeshi general over plans to change its name.

Osmani Primary School in Tower Hamlets was named in 1986 after General Muhammad Osmani - one of the leaders in Bangladesh's war of independence.

But the state school wants to alter it to the more "neutral" Vallance Primary to reflect changes in the population.

More than 1,000 people have signed a petition against the move.

The petition was set up by parent Kalam Choudhury who told BBC Asian Network it was "an issue of our history and out heritage and culture".

Doros Ullah, a former Tower Hamlets councillor, accused the school of "trying to take away the identity of the Bangladeshi community".

Image caption The school has said the name change would reflect changes to the local community

The 2011 census showed the Bangladeshi community was the largest ethnic group in Tower Hamlets.

But rising house prices and the growth of London's financial centre has led to sharp rises of other ethnic groups in the area.

The school has said the name change would reflect these changes to the local community.

'Quite wrenching'

"We thought Vallance Primary is a neutral profile that doesn't deter potential parents from coming into the school and stopping this perception that it's a faith school," chair of governors Mike Tylor said.

Image caption The 2011 census showed the Bangladeshi community was the largest ethnic group in Tower Hamlets

The Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs, who wants the school to remain Osmani Primary School, has successfully lobbied governors to consult parents before a final decision is made. A date has not yet been set.

"Until very recently the East End was a place where people would make their arrival in the UK. It had cheap housing, and it had plenty of jobs in relatively low skilled industries," he said.

"Now the jobs have gone. The cheap housing has gone but it still has very strong communities who attract people. But the role of the East End as the traditional first point of call - the sort of Ellis Island of London if you like - is now substantially over. And it's quite wrenching."

Related Topics

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites