Oxfam Sparks Action - School Speaker Scheme

Posted by Kathryn Mackridge

13th Dec 2012

Never work with animals or children….that's what some say….but that statement couldn't be further from the truth for us at Oxfam. Archie the Goat is our pin up for our Unwrapped Christmas presents range and well as for children  Oxfam Sparks Action programme is all about the young ones!

Oxfam Sparks Action is our school speaker scheme which provides schools with the opportunity for students to learn about global issues. Fully trained volunteers are able to deliver workshops and assemblies on a range of global topics including education, health and climate change. I applied to become a school speaker because, having spent some time as a teaching assistant in the past, I was really keen to discuss world issues with young people, hear their opinions and solutions and broaden their minds (as well as my own!)

After the fun and comprehensive School Speaker training run by Oxfam in September, I was really excited about getting into some of the local schools and speaking to young people about Oxfam's work and global citizenship. Oxfam are currently working with the Co-operative to educate students about smallholder farmers and the important role they play in creating a more sustainable global food system with the Farmers Feeding Our World workshops. I was contacted by Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg in Barry asking to present to a group of sixth-formers who are planning a Fairtrade event in their school as part of the Welsh Baccalaureate.

Despite my classroom experience, I was a tad daunted by the idea of standing in front of and talking to a hundred or so 17 and 18 year olds! Luckily, a lot of volunteers in Wales had been trained up in September, so I was able to deliver my first presentation together with Laura, another School Speaker based in Cardiff- meaning my first-presentation nerves were reduced a bit.

Young people are often dismissed as being apathetic about or disinterested in world issues, but the group of sixth formers we worked with were alert and engaged- pretty impressive at 9am on a wet November morning! They got involved with all the activities and asked some thoughtful questions, making sure that Laura and I knew our stuff! They successfully identified the main problems facing smallholder farmers across the globe, demonstrating their excellent critical thinking skills- an important part of the Education for Sustainable Development and Global Citizenship (ESDGC) framework, which the Oxfam School Speaker scheme in Wales can help to support.

There are currently 500 million smallholder farms across the world who feed up to 2 billion people on our planet: nearly one third of the world's population.  However, climate change, high food prices and a lack of resources mean these farmers are constantly faced with erratic weather conditions, little access to trade and competition with large-scale farms. Oxfam and the Co-Operative have joined together to champion these smallholder farmers and are asking governments to invest in training and resources so the food co-operatives can grow and feed even more people across the globe.

To find out more about this, visit http://www.oxfam.org.uk/get-involved/campaign-with-us/find-an-action/small-scale-farming-coop Oxfam is working with the Co-operative's Green School Revolution in schools across the UK to educate students about a sustainable food system. If you would like to register your school to the Green School Revolution programme, visit http://www.co-operative.coop/green-schools-revolution/ If you would like to book an Oxfam School Speaker for a workshop or an assembly, or you are interested in other topics that are offered, visit the Oxfam Education website http://www.oxfam.org.uk/education/teachersupport/school_speakers/ or ring Vicky Leech at the Oxfam Cymru office on 0300 200 1269