UK Citizenship Test to include Shakespeare, the National Anthem?

It has been widely reported through various media outlets that the Life in the UK test which migrants must pass before they can be eligible for settlement will be drastically changed under new plans drawn up by the Home Secretary Theresa May.

The current citizenship test was introduced in 2005 to ensure that migrants had sufficient knowledge about the UK before they were granted permission to remain here indefinitely.  It is 45 minutes long and includes 24 questions about topics such as British customs and the practicalities of living in the UK, the legal system and the role of the monarch, parliament and the government.

However, the Government believes that in the current test format, too much emphasis is placed on the practicalities of daily life in the UK, rather than the country”s heritage and history.  According to the Home Office, “putting our culture and history at the heart of the citizenship test will help ensure those permanently settling can understand British life allowing them to properly integrate into our society.”

A new handbook is expected to be issued in the autumn which will form the basis of the modified exam.  The Telegraph writes that sections about how to claim benefits and the Human Rights Act will be replaced with questions about British inventions and discoveries, including television, radar and DNA and cultural landmarks such as the publication of the King James Bible.  Migrants will be told for the first time that the UK is historically a Christian country, and important historical figures or events including Winston Churchill, the Magna Carta and the English Civil War will also feature in the new handbook.

We are also told that those wishing to settle in the UK will have to learn the first verse of the National Anthem and will need to have knowledge of characters such as the Beatles, William Shakespeare and Florence Nightingale.

The test has been welcomed in some areas as a positive step in encouraging migrants to understand more about the country they wish to settle in permanently.  However, the changes have also faced criticism as being discriminatory, since it is possible that many British nationals would not be aware of some of the facts and historical figures which will be included in the new test.

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