Get militarism out of British schools

This video says about itself:

Britain’s 250,000 boy soldiers in World War I

25 May 2014

A quarter of a million boy soldiers, some as young as 14, enlisted in World War One by lying about their age. Around 120,000 of them were killed or injured. One 17-year-old was shot for desertion. The government and military — desperate to boost recruitment — turned a blind eye to the thousands of child soldiers sent to the trenches.

By Rhianna Louise in Britain:

The Ministry of Defence must stay out of schools

Saturday 7th October 2017

Children don’t need militarism. They need a decent learning environment, writes RHIANNA LOUISE

“CADET units can improve attendance and educational achievement, supporting children in ways that schools cannot,” said an interim report on the social impact of cadet forces published this week by the University of Northampton.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon praised the report while announcing 31 new cadet units in state schools.

The funding of the cadet expansion programme, part of nearly £90 million that has gone into military programmes in education since 2012, seems rather an anomaly.

In contrast, non-military services and facilities for young people have been decimated in recent years, and education is facing a funding crisis.

Teaching and support staff posts are being cut, along with Special Educational Needs (SEN) provision and spending on books and equipment. Funding for education of 16-19 year olds has been devastated.

Outside the classroom, the picture is equally bleak. Youth clubs have been so badly hit that they are closing up and down the country and may become once more reliant on Dickensian philanthro-capitalism.

Children’s mental health services have also faced cuts, with funding falling by nearly £50m between 2010 and 2015.

I’ve seen first-hand the impact of these cuts, having worked as a teaching assistant in a comprehensive school. My team supported pupils with physical needs and learning difficulties in and outside the classroom.

The department has now been cut to the bone. One Year Eight pupil with learning difficulties offered to run a cake sale to raise money for us.

I was a “mentor” to an 11-year-old boy — I’ll call him Connor — who struggled academically and behaviourally, due to emotional difficulties.

Many of his issues arose from home, where there was a history of abuse. Connor started the year well, and asked repeatedly if he could have counselling, which had helped him in primary school. But the school was unable to provide this.

As the year progressed, Connor got into fights and disengaged from learning. I pushed for him to be given extra support, but by the time occasional “anger management” sessions were offered to him, he had already started down a pathway he wouldn’t come back from easily. He was expelled the next year.

The University of Northampton report, and Fallon’s dream of cadet units blossoming up and down the country, herald the cadet forces as the solution to the struggles of children like Connor.

This is premised on the militarist narrative in which the military is the highest of institutions, a school for the nation which offers a solution to all of society’s problems. This narrative is disingenuous, flawed, and dangerous.

It is disingenuous because Ministry of Defence documents show that the advancement of military influence in education, including cadet expansion, is not motivated by the best interests of young people.

Rather, it is motivated by the militarisation agenda; to increase uncritical support for the military (and their operations) and boost recruitment.

The report itself mixes child development aims with defence aims such as savings, recruitment and PR for the armed forces.

It is flawed, because while the cadet forces offer benefits to many young people, so too would any well-funded youth programme with excellent resources.

It is dangerous, because while the report deems it praiseworthy that the cadet forces are a route to recruitment — while simultaneously lauding the benefits offered by cadets for socio-economically disadvantaged and emotionally troubled young people — in fact military service can be highly damaging to this demographic in particular.

As evidenced in a new report called The First Ambush? Effects of army training and employment, commissioned by Veterans for Peace UK, young people with experiences of childhood adversity, who exhibit violent behaviour at a young age, or have mental health problems, are not for the most part “rescued” by a military career.

They are likely to leave early and face unemployment due to a lack of transferable qualifications after leaving education to enlist. Their early difficulties leave them more susceptible to mental health problems triggered by training and in service.

Children like Connor don’t need a cadet force to try to mould them into controlled, obedient and patriotic young citizens. They need proper and sustained mental health support in a supportive learning environment with qualified professionals.

They need well-funded education. They need opportunities to feel comfortable and confident, to grow in empathy and self-efficacy. Such opportunities are not unique to or owned by military environments.

The primary aim of the Ministry of Defence is not to advance the wellbeing of young people. Its priorities may in fact sometimes clash with the best interests of the young people with whom it interacts.

This is evidenced by the much criticised practice of recruiting young people before they are adults, the culture of silencing and cover-up around abuse, and the “moral exploitation” of promoting often ethically perilous agendas to young people.

I asked Dr Brian Belton, an international authority on youth work, what he thought about the University of Northampton report.

Youth work is divided into two movements, he said; one which seeks to “harness and develop young people, primarily for the benefit of the maintenance of the state,” and one in which young people are seen to have “the capacity within themselves to be creative and auto-didactic in terms of learning about themselves and the world.”

Even if we are concerned purely with outcome, he argues that “military ethos” type projects like the cadet forces are not what we actually need today: “the modern world does not require conformity, it demands innovation.”

We should all be very concerned by the direction in which education and youth work is heading. A growing socio-economic chasm and calls to “fill the ranks” of the military from Britain’s schools do not bear much promise for a new generation equipped to thrive in the modern world and respond to the challenges it faces.

Instead of pushing militarist conformity, we should be investing in education, mental health facilities and youth work that supports young people to think critically, innovatively and ethically.

Rhianna Louise is the education and outreach officer at ForcesWatch. For more on Forces Watch visit:


Big pro-evolution biology demonstration in Turkey

This 3 July 2017 video from the USA says about itself:

Turkey Stops Teaching High School Students Evolution

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Turkey: Teachers fight for secularism

Wednesday 20th September 2017

TRADE unionists in Turkey have called on the public to “raise their voice” against the removal of the theory of evolution from the school curriculum.

Ahmet Hamdi Camli, an MP from Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party, created uproar when he said: “It’s useless to teach maths to students who don’t know jihad.”

Government officials have called for a “vengeful and religious generation,” exclusion of the theory of evolution and the inclusion of jihad in the curriculum.

A mass rally for secular education organised by teachers’ union Egitim-Sen and the Alevi Bektasi Federation was held in Istanbul on Sunday.

MPs from the opposition Republican People’s Party and People’s Democratic Party joined the rally to “stand against bigotry and fight for the future of the country.”

Egitim-Sen general secretary Feray Aytekin Aydogan called for an education system that is “free, scientific, secular, and equal” and the right to be taught in Kurdish. “We are not going to surrender to darkness”, he said.

London Grenfell disaster survivor girl gets top school grades

This TV video from Britain says about itself:

16 June 2017

16-year-old Ines Alves and her brother Tiago lived on the 13th floor of Grenfell Tower. They both ended up running for lives on the night of the fire, but the very next morning, Ines went back to school to sit her chemistry GCSE exam. They share their story.

By Felicity Collier in London, England:

Grenfell: Survivor who sat exam hours after fire gets top grades

Friday 25th August 2017

A TEENAGER who escaped from Grenfell Tower and sat her chemistry GCSE the next morning was awarded an A grade yesterday.

Ines Alves, who lived with her family on the 13th floor, fled the fire in the middle of the night with just her mobile phone and chemistry notes before sitting the exam at 9am still wearing the same clothes.

The 16-year-old also scored the highest possible grades in maths — a 9 which is equivalent to an A* under the old system — and A* in Spanish.

Sacred Heart High School head teacher Marian Doyle called her results “fantastic.”

“It must have been so hard for her to actually come in and do that and try to blot out the scenes of what she had seen,” she said.

The student said that at first she thought the fire was “nothing major” and had just wanted to sit the paper, adding: “There was no point me carrying on watching the building burning so I just went in.”

Asked what she remembered from the night, she said: “The whole thing. The screaming, people screaming, begging for help.”

More than two months on Ms Alves’s family — who owned the flat — are living in a hotel and are still waiting until they are offered a permanent home.

British ‘Open’ University or closed anti-Cuban Trump University?

This video from the USA says about itself:

Wilkerson: Practically Everyone Opposes Trump‘s Reversal of Obama’s Cuba Opening

15 June 2017

Reversing the Cuba opening will be a political nightmare for the Trump administration, but they ignore everyone’s warnings, says Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell‘s former Chief of Staff.

By Peter Lazenby in Britain:

‘Open’ University blacklists Cubans from its courses

Monday 24th July 2017

Institution accused of blocking enrolments to bolster US embargo – in breach of British laws

CUBANS have been banned from enrolling at the Open University (OU) because the institution fears repercussions from the United States, which has been illegally blockading the island for 59 years.

The distance-learning university has been accused of breaching discrimination laws by imposing the ban.

Around 30 Cuban students are already studying at other British universities and the government has pledged to build higher education links with the tiny Caribbean nation.

The OU has claimed that the ban on Cuban students is “in response to international economic sanctions and embargoes” — that is, threats of retaliation from the US.

Britain as a whole does not operate or subscribe to any economic sanctions or embargoes against Cuba.

The Cuba Solidarity Campaign (CSC) yesterday condemned the ban as “unacceptable” and said the OU was choosing to abide by US rather than British law.

CSC director Rob Miller said: “It is unacceptable on every level for a British university to ban an entire group of students based solely on their nationality and runs counter to anti-discrimination and equal opportunity laws.

“It is an affront to all British people to suggest, as the OU does, that they are only complying with US law. Their action and justification for it punishes the people of Cuba, and undermines the sovereignty of British law.

“Cuban students are welcome to study at many other British universities. By introducing this unjust, discriminatory and nasty policy, the OU is making a mockery of its claim to be ‘open to all.’

“We have asked the Open University to end this outrageous ban, and are calling on the British government to make urgent representations to the OU to ensure that they run a fair and non-discriminatory admissions policy, or take action to enforce one if they refuse.”

In March, Foreign and Commonwealth Minister Sir Alan Duncan met Cuban vice-minister for higher education Dr Aurora Fernandez, who was in Britain leading a delegation from the Cuban higher education sector.

He said at the time he was “looking forward to working with them towards UK-Cuba goals on higher education, research, and English language training.”

Westminster policy is one of “strengthening UK-Cuba educational links.”

Last year, a memorandum of understanding was signed to “boost bilateral cooperation in higher education, research and teaching of English.”

CSC has launched a campaign to persuade the OU to lift its ban on Cuban students and is urging supporters to write to their MPs over the matter.

The US economic blockade was imposed by president John F Kennedy in 1962, extending restrictions from 1960, and maintained by every subsequent president.

Relations between Cuba and the US improved under President Obama, though the economic blockade remained largely in place, but President Trump is tightening restrictions against island country of 11 million.

The blockade, which has been declared illegal by the United Nations every year since 1992, has significant and punitive effects on Cuba, including its health and education services.

Drugs and medicines have to be shipped from China and other countries, despite being available just 90 miles away in the US.

The OU also bans students from Iran, North Korea and Syria.