Take a stand

8th July 2005 at 01:00
When Tony Blair hosted leaders from the world's wealthiest nations at the G8 summit this week he asked them to make a choice which would define the character of their leadership.

They had to decide whether to make sacrifices to help free Africa from the constraints of poverty and G8 policies on debt and trade, and to save the world from the potentially disastrous effects of rising carbon emissions. Judge for yourself whether they have proved to be statesmen, capable of taking a moral stand to help a wider constituency than their own, or mere politicians.

At the International Confederation of Principals convention in Cape Town this week, school leaders will be challenged themselves to act as community statesmen, to have the courage to teach their pupils to live by moral values and be good citizens.

G8 summits were put on the public map by protesters who saw globalisation as the exploitation of the world's resources by multinationals at the expense of powerless local people. But Live8 and its predecessor Live Aid are symptoms of another aspect of the trend: a globalisation of social consciousness, a speeding up of the sharing of ideas and values.

Governments may look to international comparative test results to see whether their education policies are working, but progress in schools can be affected as much by the thousands of visits made by headteachers to peers in other countries to share expertise.

And as David Hopkins, the world's first chair of international leadership in education, says on these pages, we can all learn from the African values of interdependence, singleness of purpose and collective effort. "Reforms must not just improve a school but improve a community and society," he says. "Heads have to be concerned with the success of other schools, not just their own."

It's about bringing everybody up.

Brendan O'Malley

TES international editor

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