Ted's teaching tips

6th July 2001 at 01:00
This cleverly composed picture shows a Third World economy. Start with two simple questions: who are these people and what are they doing? Will anyone guess that it is hundreds of fanicos, paid to do the washing in an Ivory Coast creek?

Third World What is the Third World (a slightly diffuse notion, sometimes referred to as the "non-aligned", or "developing" countries: those nations, mainly in Africa, Asia, Central and South America, that are not in the large western and eastern - former communist - blocs)?

Are all Third World countries poor (most are, but it depends if some of the oil rich nations of the Middle East and elsewhere are included; some versions exclude them, and the United Nations has talked of a Fourth World, the 25 or so really poor or least developed countries)? Find some of the countries on a map (such as Nigeria, India, Guatemala). What difficulties do they face (poverty, debt, famine, disease, often warfare, and some have a serious Aids problem)? What can we do to help (offer aid through government grants and charities; send out skilled workers, such as doctors, teachers, engineers to help train workers; provide education; not patronise, exploit them, or try to impose an alien culture)?

Ivory Coast Find the Ivory Coast on a map (in west Africa, former Portuguese and French colony, hence its proper name, Cote d'Ivoire)? What does it export (coffee, cocoa, rubber, pineapples)? What is its landscape (swamps, tropical rainforest in the south, savannah and low mountains in the north)? What do you know about colonies (many Third World countries - but also United States and Australia - were once colonised by countries such as Britain, France, Holland and Spain; most have achieved independence)?

Washing Have you ever washed clothes or dishes by hand? What did you make of it? We take washing for granted and most of it is done by machine now, but it can be hard work (scrubbing, wringing, carrying loads). Why do we use soap (dissolves grease, so dirt can be released and washed away)?

Writing Imagine travelling to a Third World country as a child. Describe how you feel at the sight of poverty, then tell how you go back as an adult to help (what skills, equipment, materials, personal qualities, will you need?).


Many Third World countries have large debts. Should these be cancelled?


Crippling interest charges are a major obstacle to prosperity. Wealthy countries have a moral duty to ease the burden and would not miss the sums involved. Itis modern slavery: we benefit from their poverty as wages are low, making exports cheap. Poverty breeds starvation, war and dependence.


Those who borrow should pay back what they owe. Other countries would want to renege on their obligations if some are excused. This is not a long-term solution. Writing off debts encourages dependency and rewards poor government, profligacy and corruption.

Ted Wragg is professor of education at Exeter University

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