Scotland supports new generation of global citizens

Posted by Judith Robertson Head of Oxfam Scotland

17th Oct 2013

empowering_children

Judith Robertson is the Head of Oxfam Scotland, and a spokesperson for the Enough Food For Everyone IF Campaign in Scotland.

From chemical weapon atrocities in Syria to global climate change and, here at home, Scotland's constitutional future - our young people face a complex, challenging and ever-changing world.

It is crucial that we equip them with the tools they need to fully participate, process and understand these issues and topics - empowering them to shape the kind of world they want to live in.

We are therefore delighted the Scottish Government is, for the first time, making a significant contribution to the core-running costs of Scotland's six Development Education Centres.

The two year funding commitment, worth £600,000 in total, is fantastic news for teachers and pupils across Scotland who will benefit hugely from it.

Located in Aberdeen, Coatbridge, Dundee, Dingwall, Edinburgh and Glasgow - the Centres provide professional support to teachers delivering global citizenship in Scotland's schools.

They are a key resource in providing Scotland's young people with the skills they need to critically evaluate the world around them - both now and in the future.

However, while the services they provide are essential for our young people, the Centres have been surviving on barely a shoestring budget and have faced an uncertain future.

To be clear, they do not promote one set of answers.

Instead, they support teachers, and young people to develop the skills they need to explore, develop and express their own values and opinions, whilst listening to and respecting those of others.

They allow young people to be informed and gain knowledge in a safe and impartial environment.

In doing so they embody the ethos of Curriculum for Excellence; that learning crosses disciplinary boundaries so that young people are able to establish the links between one issue and another.

Every child in Scotland is entitled to access to such education but this right will only be fulfilled if we give teachers the support they need to embed it within their classroom teaching.

That's why we asked for increased investment in Global Citizenship Education as part of the Enough Food For Everyone IF Campaign in Scotland.

Fundamentally, we believe Scotland must play its part in tackling the scandal of one in eight people going to bed hungry every day and we have been pleased by the level of support given by the Scottish Government.

Last week First Minister Alex Salmond announced a doubling of the Climate Justice Fund - this money will help some of the world's poorest people adapt to the climate change which rich countries, including Scotland, helped cause.

But we know we will only continue to play our part if we invest in an outward-looking and caring population in Scotland - one that not only understands the global challenges we face, but which also recognises our role, and indeed our responsibility, in bringing about lasting change.

How else will Scotland's politicians take the difficult decisions needed to, for example, ensure Scotland delivers on our world-leading climate targets?

The old adage that education is the bedrock on which a nation builds is very much still relevant today.

This was highlighted by the fact that the IF Campaign's call to invest in Global Citizenship Education was given such a warm and positive response from across the political spectrum.

Crucially, the Scottish Government has now backed up these warm words with funding.

It is a tangible sign of its commitment to building a confident, outward-looking, caring Scotland, one in which all our citizens have an understanding of their rights and responsibilities as global citizens.

This investment will allow the Development Education Centres to deliver more of the in-depth support teachers need and want.
And, crucially, it will enable them to target other streams of funding - from both Scotland and beyond - to ensure the provision of Global Citizenship Education deepens further.

In doing so, we can harness the people of Scotland in the global fight against injustice and inequality - and prove that education here can help fight poverty everywhere.

Blog post written by Judith Robertson

Head of Oxfam Scotland

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