Teachers cramp peer projects

21st August 1998 at 01:00
TEACHERS can hinder the effectiveness of peer education, by refusing to hand over responsibility for issues such as drugs awareness and homelessness to young people, a new study claims.

The report, from the British Youth Council, shows that peer education was proving effective, with young people willing to relate to educators of their own generation. They found the information accessible and relevant.

However, projects based in schools were often hampered by a reluctance by staff to allow pupils to make decisions, and participation tended to be lower than those based around youth centres.

Groups also encountered scepticism from professionals, even though their approach to issues was creative. Teenagers said that they accepted knowledge from adults, but became suspicious when older people tried to discuss beliefs and attitudes with them, the study found.

Funding was a major concern. Most projects received income from grants and trusts, the Government and agencies such as local authorities, but there was little long-term financial help. Drugs education and health issues tended to attract the most funding.

The report recommended that because of the scale of many projects a support network should be set up to help those doing similar work in other parts of the country.

Dorothy Lepkowska

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