Citizenship hits Himalayan peak

16th January 2004 at 00:00
Professor Sir Bernard Crick, David Blunkett's old university tutor and inventor of citizenship education, is holidaying in the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan next month.

In an email to a friend at the Association of Citizenship Teaching, he confides: "The tour guide has promised the King 10 minutes with me, or vice-versa; but don't expect he will be much interested in citizenship."

Intrigued by what we suspect is an example of Sir Bernard's impish humour, the Diary called Chitem Tenzin, first secretary of Bhutan's embassy in Geneva, the country's only embassy in Europe.

He had not heard of any royal audience but said: "I am sure the King would be very interested in learning about citizenship. (What I mean is) the King will be interested in knowing about citizenship. He will not be applying for British citizenship." He added that Sir Bernard would be entranced by his country's beautiful scenery and "feudal" society.

The Diary felt the need to explain that citizenship education was all about informing the people of their rights and political responsibilities. Was such a thing being considered in his own country (where people cannot change their rulers through elections and have few basic rights)?

"I can't say yes or no. I don't want to be cynical. It is not a billion-dollar question, it is a trillion-dollar question, a question I have been asked for the first time - by you."

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