Oxfam sets out global agenda

Harvey McGavin

Third world charity Oxfam has launched a campaign to make development education an integral part of the curriculum in schools.

Its 30-page document A Curriculum for Global Citizenship aims to put human rights, poverty, equity and the environment on the school agenda by breaking down the broad themes of development education into key stage skills.

These range from listening to others, asking questions and learning a sense of fair play at key stage 1 to making ethical judgments, arguing rationally and persuasively and improving understanding of other cultures and societies at key stage 4.

The curriculum outline includes examples of teaching materials suitable for tackling some of the issues, including social justice and equity, globalisation and interdependence, sustainable development and concern for the environment. The document will go out this week to policymakers, chief education officers, and examination bodies and will be circulated among headteachers at conferences.

Rather than arguing for the introduction of a separate subject, Oxfam believes the key issues of development education should become part of the ethos underpinning the curriculum. And the charity hopes the Government's keenness to develop the notion of citizenship education, combined with a heightened public awareness of international issues such as landmines, will ensure its proposals gain a sympathetic hearing.

Central to Oxfam's aims is the concept of a global citizen - someone who is aware of the wider world, values diversity, and has a keen sense of justice and understanding of how the world works, economically, politically, socially, culturally, technologically and environmentally.

Hilary Atchison, Oxfam's development education manager, acknowledges that few of us fit this profile, but she believes aiming for a wider understanding of the world will encourage these values and attitudes in schoolchildren.

"It's something to aspire to - an ideal. We want to enhance the curriculum we have. But the education White Paper makes no explicit mention of the global dimension. We are part of a bigger, world society, and development education has much to offer the curriculum. There's an awful lot we can learn from what's going on elsewhere in the world," she says.

After a major restructuring of Oxfam's development education department 18 months ago, which saw the number of staff cut from 22 to 11, the new framework will determine the future education and publications of the charity. Already the charity is setting up pilot projects at schools in the London boroughs of Tower Hamlets, Sutton and Croydon, aiming to foster awareness of development issues among pupils by introducing study of their "global footprint" - a measure of their impact on the world's resources.

"Development education has been patchy in schools," says Ms Atchison. "We want to make a significant contribution to education - now and in the future. "

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