Pupils 'should discuss world events more'

4th July 2008 at 01:00
Teenagers are not being given enough opportunity to discuss world events in class, leading to a generation of pupils who are "globally illiterate", an education charity claimed today

Teenagers are not being given enough opportunity to discuss world events in class, leading to a generation of pupils who are "globally illiterate", an education charity claimed today.

But in the charity's survey, the majority of 11- to 16-year-old pupils questioned said they had received lessons on global matters in the previous two terms. Only 19 per cent said they had not discussed any world news.

The Ipsos Mori research was carried out for the education charity DEA, which promotes global learning. It interviewed nearly 2,000 pupils in 82 secondary and middle schools in England, and found that three-quarters felt it was important to teach pupils how to make the world a better place. But many were honest about their ambitions for the future: nearly twice as many said they were more interested in making money for themselves than improving the planet.

The report comes 10 years after citizenship became a compulsory part of the curriculum in England.

David Blunkett, who introduced the subject to schools when he was education secretary, will chair a DEA event in Westminster on Monday which will bring together educationists to discuss the implications of the research.

Hetan Shah, chief executive of the charity, said: "The Government wants young people to have a `world-class' education but a key question is whether it is preparing them for the world. An education system that leaves English children globally illiterate, without a basic understanding of world events or problems and intolerant towards those from different backgrounds is one that sets children up to fail.

"We know that employers are no longer interested in those with a `Little England' mentality and parents worry that their children need a wider set of skills for life."

The study found that more than one in 10 pupils felt they had discussed world news in lessons "a lot". But older pupils were less likely to get such opportunities.

The report said the finding "emerges quite strongly throughout, suggesting that perhaps curriculum choices and exam pressure for older students prevents these sorts of discussions in class".

Since September 2007, schools have been inspected on the work they are doing to promote community cohesion and awareness.

But the study suggests this may be a challenge for some pupils: just half the young people believed it was a good idea for people from different backgrounds to live in the same country; nearly 30 per cent were "neutral" to the idea or were unable to respond; and 14 per cent were opposed.


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