Essential essence

8th November 1996 at 00:00
Andy Schofield welcomes source material on Africa and Tibet. WINNERS AND LOSERS: AFRICAN SOCIETY AND DEVELOPMENT Centre for Development Studies at Swansea University Oxfam 274 Banbury Road, Oxford OX2 7DE Pounds 9.95. TIBET: A JOURNEY THROUGH A CHANGING LAND Tibet Support Group 9 Islington Green, London N1 2XH Pounds 14.95 (teacher's guide, student's book and photos)

Authentic, first-hand source material is an essential requirement for development education. Both these publications fulfil this need admirably.

Winners and Losers is an A-level source book to support the WJEC AS-level in world development. It deserves a much wider audience. It consists of background information for the teacher, interspersed with appropriate worksheets for the student.

Its publication is timely, as the recent Rhodes epic on BBC television may have brought the issue of colonial rule in Africa to a wider audience. Much of the material could be adapted for use throughout the secondary age-range.

The book covers African history, case-studies of how people make a living in modern Africa, and the way development policies have an impact on local communities.

The emphasis throughout is on questioning the motives of European and American involvement in the continent. Attempts to solve Africa's development problems are analysed in terms of their positive and negative effect on local communities.

There are also passing references to stereotyping and racism in popular culture and literature, such as the Tarzan books. I would have liked to see this section expanded, not least because there are few places where such sources are brought together. Wherever African development issues are being taught or written about, this brief book should be essential reading.

Tibet: A Journey Through a Changing Land is one of the first teaching resources to look at this little-known country. Written by the Free Tibet Campaign, the political standpoint of the material is quite clear. The pack, suitable for geography, humanities, and religious education with 11 to 14-year-olds, consists of a teacher's guide, a student's book which may be photocopied, and 12 large photographs.

The pack takes the story of a young girl's pilgrimage across the country. On her journey she meets four Tibetans: a nomad, a trader, a farmer and a monk.

The information provided about each gives insights into not only the lifestyles of the characters but also the environmental problems which they face.

The student's book contains numerous suggestions for activities, almost all designed to promote empathy. While the source material has been well-researched, more thought should have been given to the type of learning generated by the tasks. In general, the activities are fairly low-level, with copying and imaginative writing much in evidence. It is also doubtful whether the monochrome pages will copy properly. This is unfortunate, as the idea behind this pack has much to commend it.

The spiritual leader of Tibet, the Dalai Lama, has a vision of his homeland as the world's largest national park, a special zone of environmental splendour and peace, a theme which has much to capture the imagination of younger secondary students.

Andy Schofield is deputy headteacher of Varndean School, Brighton

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