The poverty trap

11th February 2005 at 00:00
Chembakolli: Life and Change in an Indian Village TV-Rom, pound;35.25 plus pp for a network licence from ActionAid Tel: 01460 238000 Email: deved@actionaid.

I Have a Story to Tell pound;25 from CAMFED International Tel: 01223 362648

The TV-Rom from ActionAid is the latest addition to the highly successful material for key stage 2 children about Chembakolli, a tribal village in Southern India. Film clips, photographs, interviews, maps and songs illustrate how the community lives, learns, works and celebrates. The material relates specifically to unit 10 in the QCA geography scheme of work, but there are links to be made to PSHE and ICT in the primary curriculum.

The teacher's notes are particularly helpful and the programme is easy to navigate and provides useful notes for teachers on further reading, and the development of cross-curricular links as well as lesson plans. There are also five differentiated tasks to be completed on screen or printed.

Karli Crow, new to the series, guides children through the wealth of material. The commentary accompanying the film clips is not patronising; it elicits responses as well as posing points for further discussion and research.

I Have a Story to Tell is a beautifully produced book, in which teachers, doctors, nurses, lawyers, community workers and other professionals, many from destitute families, tell how a British charity, CAMFED, helped to transform their lives, and bear witness to the crucial role education plays in freeing women from drudgery and servitude.

Whatever might induce a Year 8 pupil in the UK to sell her body it would not be in order to pay for her school fees. But that is what many of Angeline Mugwendere's friends in Zimbabwe did - and she does not blame them. "The girls were not acting out of stupidity but because they were stuck in a vicious circle of poverty," she says.

Exclusion from education - once free in Zimbabwe's primary sector - means being left vulnerable to oppression and exploitation as wives or prostitutes, with a high probability of ending up with AIDS. The irony is that when a 12-year-old turns to a "sugar daddy" for support, she risks contracting the disease anyway. Angeline herself is director of CARA, a network of African women who haven't had to face this dilemma because CAMFED helped fund their education.

Angela Piddock is head of Wilberforce primary school, Westminster

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