It is not 'neocolonialist' to nurture these mutually useful links

12th March 2010 at 00:00

I was disturbed to see from your report on Dr Fran Martin's research into school linking that she has already decided that the basis for all such partnerships needs to be changed to avoid the "neocolonalist or racist undertones" she claims to have discovered ("Patronising and 'racist': how overseas links mean well, but...", March 5).

The Marlborough Brandt Group has had a 28-year long partnership with the Gambian Muslim village of Gunjur (population about 17,000).

It has supported secondary schooling and set-up and backs Gunjur's first pre-school. The latter has been so successful that Gunjur now has five pre-schools which are co-operating on a common curriculum.

The group also runs the Wiltshire Global Education Centre, which supports school linking and provides in-school assistance on global education to the county's schools.

The centre has taken dozens of Wiltshire teachers to Gunjur, where they stay with families in their compounds and see at first-hand how the village's schools work.

Last month, a Gambian newspaper quoted the country's director of youth and sports as attributing Gunjur's high level of literacy to its link with Marlborough.

Of course, there are those who consider any form of "schooling" in developing countries with similarities to that carried out in the West, as "neocolonialist". I look forward to reading Dr Martin's final report and what she means by requiring that school links must be "equal".

Dr Tony Millett, Trustee, Marlborough Brandt Group, Marlborough, Wiltshire.

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