§ 6.49 p.m.
§ The Earl of Sandwich rose to call attention to the case for greater public awareness of Britain's response to the longer-term needs of developing countries, and to the encouragement of development education in the United Kingdom; and to move for Papers.
§ The noble Earl said: My Lords, as a nation, we cling to a world role yet we are still shamefully unaware of the extent of world poverty and hunger and under-educated about the long-term needs of the third world. We ought to know better. Like other European powers, we had a habit of occupying large areas of the world and we used to colour them pink on the map. This geography lesson came to an abrupt end in 1962, when I was a student. My generation was the last to be educated during colonial rule and the first to be taught that as a nation we are no better and no worse than anyone else. I am not saying that we are not excellent at some things—and I do not exclude cricket. We have a lot to pass on to other countries and our world influence, although much reduced, is still important. What I am saying is that we have moved on a generation and our children look at the world differently. As parents, we have a responsibility to ensure that they look at it fairly and not from a superior position.
§ What is development education? It is a form of education internationally recognised by governments. It is education which is honest about the world. In the words of the Irish President, it "challenges our complacency". We still allow ourselves to talk up others' failures abroad. Our political leaders often distract us from domestic difficulties towards some grand solution overseas. We allow pockets of racism and poverty to grow in our midst which engender their own brands of prejudice and distort our world picture. We forget sometimes that immigrants and asylum seekers are also our friends and allies, not foreigners but people like us, representatives and interpreters of the wider world to which we belong.
§ I will give one small illustration from Scotland. SEAD, Scottish Education and Action for Development, arranged for a visitor from Sri Lanka and another from South Africa to visit local churches, schools, urban 357 estates and crofters in the Highlands. It was an eye-opener for those communities to meet someone from countries with which we have much in common and which combine such a variety of cultural and religious influences. Visits like that are becoming more popular every year. They contrast sharply with the diet of bad news we receive from the developing world.
§ We first need to define what kind of overseas development we wish to portray. Here I give a personal opinion. Aid for sustainable and appropriate projects has a lot of support in this country. I do not believe our children want to learn any more about the aid we were providing in the 1960s, when millions of pounds were used to prop up political allies and prestige projects all over Africa and Asia. The ODA's latest expenditure review has many splendid statements of intent, but it disguises how much money is still injected into friendly nations through large-scale projects like the Pergau dam, in the name of jobs, trade and diplomacy. I am all for giving British companies opportunities, but they must not be the prime reason for giving aid. Instead, we must concentrate our education on what is good—and there is a lot of good. There is excellent long-term aid through ODA and its many bilateral and multilateral programmes.
§ How do we carry out development education? In practice it means three main areas of work: education which explains Britain's position in the world and our overseas aid and diplomacy, which one could call public relations; education in the formal sector, in schools and colleges within the national curriculum, but often reinforced by the home environment; and adult education, which includes the campaigning which NGOs now do very effectively.
§ The first of those areas is our official overseas aid programme. In my view, the public largely glimpse Britain's aid programme through brief news items mainly relating to emergencies and peacekeeping in places like Rwanda and Bosnia. But the ODA is highly regarded among OECD agencies as a development agency and deserves better, more balanced propaganda than it gets. I am sure that the Minister would welcome more coverage of the long-term programmes. It is just that press officers invariably point to the public interest which comes from emergencies.
§ Environment and sustainable development are right at the front of ODA's new mission statement. They have been united by the Rio conference and regularly appear together in high level studies, such as the one last year debated in this House. It is an area where I believe communicators are making the most headway by asking questions of fundamental importance to the public and to teachers and children. How much damage are we still doing to the third world by dumping our third-hand technology, selling more and more cars, exporting banned substances and propagating old models of development?
§ People would much rather hear about sustainable development than about what the royal butler saw or endless columns about the Scott Report. In contrast with the destructive impact of the state which our aid has often helped to create, our aid programmes could be 358 made more visible in putting the case for a sustainable global environment. Surely we would be able to expand our own aid programme if we explained to the public more precisely what it is.
§ Another popular subject is conservation and tourism. Should we still be gawping at so-called primitive societies or helping them to recover from the damage we have done to them? I can think of many good examples from CARE and the World Wide Fund for Nature of genuine partnership with local people in forestry, tourism and wildlife management. I know that ODA is involved in many of those schemes.
§ Occasionally ODA projects are mentioned in a science programme or a feature article and perhaps more inventive programming could be encouraged, using celebrities or an association with an NGO or a UN agency to attract a wider audience. Occasionally a skilled development journalist or film maker writes a good piece in the Financial Times about draught oxen or makes a gripping film about locust control. But it is hard for those rare gems of development education to find a mass audience.
§ In mainstream education there has been some good collaboration between government bodies, the NGOs and the formal sector. Schools broadcasting and children's television have done a lot. There has been an improvement in the quality of written educational materials.
§ But new resources are becoming scarce, and teachers, especially in maintained schools, increasingly have to raise their own funds. Schools would rather eat into their resources and training budgets than lose members of staff. Teachers rely heavily on the voluntary agencies to supply materials which draw on overseas project experience and are adapted to the national curriculum. The problem is that the curriculum, while a good discipline in itself, restricts the subject matter now allowed in school timetables. It limits the scope which more creative teachers have had in teaching world development and environment studies.
§ It was partly with that in mind that the development agencies in 1993 set up the Development Education Association, which now represents over 250 members and is also supported by ODA. The DEA's national curriculum monitoring project has guided policymakers and helped teachers at various key stages to steer a difficult path through the present curriculum. But the aid agencies themselves are being squeezed, with some funds going back from development education to mainstream overseas aid projects. The Department for Education and Employment has almost withdrawn from development education, though it supports the worthwhile work of the central bureau within the British Council.
§ ODA has a useful but limited programme which is now outdistanced by the European Union. This year, the EU has already provided £1.7 million for projects in Britain, which is three times the ODA's budget. That means that regional development education centres trying to help teachers in Somerset or Tower Hamlets are turning to Brussels to make up for the shortfall. The EU itself cannot meet all the demands made on it or 359 monitor all the projects. There are over 40 development education centres in the UK and they provide an invaluable support to teachers and community groups in promoting development issues.
§ Turning to youth and adult education, I believe that the NGOs, working closely with the media, have made huge strides in influencing public awareness. Whether it is Greenpeace or Amnesty, Oxfam or Christian Aid, we can all think of issues, from whales to the World Bank, which would never have come forward but for their persistence. Youth training has been a growing area of education, and the Development Education Association, with ODA backing, has produced an excellent report for youth groups which will lead to a training programme involving organisations such as the Scouts and Guides alongside local authorities.
§ Then there are the agencies involved in educational exchanges, which report a growing interest in exchanges and placements that provide young people with overseas experience. VSO now caters for a wider age group, but it received over 80,000 letters last year, mainly from unsatisfied young people. Save the Children receives 700 to 800 letters a month seeking work abroad. Unfortunately, funding and recruitment have rarely caught up with the demand. But, on the plus side, companies are doing more. In the recent British Council debate we heard of the importance of educational exchanges and training to overseas trade. And yet we will see yet another really drastic reduction of the council's staff this summer unless something is done very soon.
§ The influence which all these exchanges have on our perception of other cultures through the colleagues, families and friends of those involved is incalculable. It is an invisible diplomacy which touches the whole of society. I accept that there are negative influences too. But the overwhelming number of young people who go to developing countries return with a positive impression of the people and a much greater understanding of their problems.
§ Adult education by NGOs now includes techniques such as single-issue campaigning, lobbying in international assemblies, networking with overseas partners, racism awareness and political education, which have increasingly and successfully enriched our society and linked it—through themes such as drug trafficking, child prostitution and arms dealing—to others in the developing world.
§ Anyone who attended the South African elections or the Beijing Conference will know how many international NGOs now have a sophisticated relationship with the media and are not just looking for short-term publicity advantages. In fact some development projects involve considerable personal risks to journalists, as I have seen for myself in Natal. I would like in particular to congratulate BBC TV's development correspondents, George Alagiah and his successor Emily Buchanan, for achieving quite difficult features in Africa, Asia and Latin America, thanks in part to the help of the NGOs.
§ Two other important organisations are active in this field: the International Broadcasting Trust, which commissions its own excellent television films, and the 360 World Development Movement, which has had a considerable impact on public awareness of our aid programme Both have had the steady support of the main aid NGOs. Such campaigning may appear to be by definition anti-government, and hardly deserving of public money. But this is only a surface impression. In practice there is now a forest of contacts between government departments and campaigners, and government actually gains a lot from its association with NGOs, not only in public relations but in knowledge and contacts. Simultaneously the agencies that do engage with government and legislators learn, in most cases, how far they can push the boat out before they lose credibility with experts and their own supporters.
§ In conclusion, I must emphasise that I am not just pleading for more government understanding and funding. The Minister herself has been down the Damascus road to development education and I know she is committed to doing more. She will, I am sure, say something positive about her future intentions. But it is also up to journalists, Members of Parliament and the agencies to put a stronger case to the public; and I know they plan to do so. A national debate is needed to see what future framework would be most appropriate for development education and would involve both government and the agencies together in planning the way forward. There is a possible model in environmental education. Perhaps the ODA could embark on a join programme with the DFEE such as has already been achieved by it with the Department of the Environment.
§ Before anyone cries, "Where is the money coming from?" I must put the Government's programme in context. The larger NGOs—known as the British Overseas Aid Group—are setting aside about £3.6 million for schools and adult education in the current year. That includes external funding and the cost of their own education departments—not information. It is equivalent to 3 per cent. of their total unearmarked funds—in the case of the Church agencies it is more like 6 per cent. It compares with the Government's £644,000, announced on 21st February, for 1994–95, which is only about 0.01 per cent. of government expenditure per head. Welcome as that is, it simply does not compare with the development education programmes of other OECD countries.
§ I mentioned that industry is becoming interested in development education, and I know the Government are in favour of that. I believe the DTI, with ODA encouragement, could do more to bring developing countries into focus, as they have recently with their India material. Companies seeking new markets are more than willing to have an educational profile, especially those that have overseas aid connections. If all these sectors can make more effort, I believe government will see a way to increasing its fairly modest commitment. I beg to move for Papers.
§ 6.55 p.m.
§ The Lord Bishop of Worcester
My Lords, I apologise for entering the debate so soon, but I realise the hour is late and we shall all want to be going home. 361 Nevertheless, this is a very important subject and it ought not to be rushed. I thank the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, for initiating this debate.
I am glad to say that when I sought help from various bodies such as the Church Missionary Society, the United Society for Propagation of the Gospel, Christian Aid and CAFOD, I was given a whole sackful of brochures on development education, which I was unable to bring with me. There are games for children on the same principle as Monopoly, which help them understand the way in which the world is an interlocking network of economies and cultures which can learn from each other. This was greatly encouraging.
At Selly Oak, in Birmingham, there is a development education centre that is celebrating its 21st anniversary this year. It has a special movement called Teachers in Development Education (TIDE) and its own magazine, filled with informative articles which will enable teachers in schools to get across to the citizens of tomorrow an understanding of the whole global family. The only hope is that national curriculum pressure will not squeeze that sort of thing out.
Furthermore, development education is good value for money. In 1995, the One World Week organisation managed to mount 500 stimulating events in towns and villages on a budget of only £80,000. It is a contribution to world citizenship and understanding of our neighbours, an understanding of the way in which the world ticks. It is foolish indeed for us to allow a generation to grow up which does not know why refugee camps are formed; does not know why there is an immigration problem in many of the countries in the northern hemisphere; does not realise that, when poorer countries are under such a heavy debt burden, they have to over-graze and over-farm their land, thereby causing people to roam the face of the earth seeking new pasture, new land, a place in which to live and work and have their simple economy.
These things are going to happen in the 21st century. We need to have people who understand that—not just children, but women's groups, employment groups, people who are decision-makers and who influence our life. It is no good putting all our young people through management courses. Whenever I take a confirmation at a public school, about 95 per cent. of the children tell me that they are going to do management studies at university. What is the point of managing if we do not have a vision of the world in which we live, an overall vision which will enable us to see why it is worth managing anything? So I greatly appreciate a debate on this vitally important subject.
We have so much to learn from each other. Last Saturday I heard a splendidly informed presentation on the economy of Peru, a country with which my diocese of Worcester has a link. Four years ago I went to Peru and found there a very poor, feeble economy and terrible terrorism from the Shining Path. During the succeeding four years President Fujimori has done great things. He has brought up the economy and silenced the Shining Path. So what is lacking in Peru? Lacking is 362 a good interface between government and people. The economy is better and terrorism has been silenced, but there is no coherence in the community.
It seems to me that we in the northern hemisphere—not just in the United Kingdom—need to understand that. In all sophisticated countries there is a danger that we live beyond our means. Thereby we leave behind communities who themselves have no stake in the country and no participation in its life. In the end, they will be more expensive as a result of being an underclass. There are ways in which we can understand each other. The wisdom is not always on one side. We have either a common future in the world or no future at all.
As I said, it is essential that we, as citizens, should understand the implications of global interdependence. Perhaps I may return to that point. It has become very clear that we are living beyond our means globally. It is a very difficult situation for politicians to handle. No politician will go to the electorate with a programme which suggests that we must live on less. But the more we stoke up the economy, especially the economies of the sophisticated countries, the more we shall exhaust the globe and leave to our grandchildren an exhausted husk.
The great hope is that there may be some core funding from the Government. I understand that development agencies, such as Christian Aid, spend 10 per cent. of their income on development education. They cannot spend more because the money has been given to go to the poorest and they must see that that is done. I hope that we shall have some reassurance from the Minister that there will be some core funding. It does not have to be total funding, but it must be enough to enable the non-governmental organisations to continue with their work. I hope that people will see that development education is essential to our one world.
About five years ago, I was in Parliament Square for a great demonstration on the needs of what we then called third world countries. At the same time there was a march for jobs taking place in the north of England. We need to bring together such marches. We shall regret it, if we do not enable countries in the rest of the world to become our trading partners. When I was in Ashford, Kent, men of 40 or 45 who were skilled engineers were being laid off. At the same time, the rolling stock in, for example, Tanzania, was so old and decrepit that it was lucky if it reached the end of the journey. We need the markets of other countries if we are to develop our own economy. We live in an interlocking network of economies.
I end by uttering words that I have used before in this House: self-interest so often dictates that which justice demands.
§ 7.15 p.m.
§ Lord Eames
My Lords, I too welcome the debate and thank the noble Earl for his introduction. Like the debate earlier this afternoon on the university situation, this debate raises issues which transcend party political interest and are for the very definite good of the nation. 363 The term "development education" is not necessarily on everyone's lips. Despite the explanation given by the noble Earl, there is a need to recognise that in the younger generation today there has been a vast change in outlook and there is a sense of responsibility which puts to shame my generation and many in this House when we think of our own lack of responsibility as young people. The substance of that particular attitude consists in such terms as the environment, world issues, justice and need.
But education in that sense is surely much broader than school programmes. Perhaps I may share with the House a definition which, in my experience of working in Northern Ireland, seems to me to illustrate the real substance of development education so far as this debate is concerned: to bring and apply moral responsibility of knowing and caring about the needs of the world to the agenda of everyday life in this nation.
What does that involve? I believe that there are three key issues. From the example set by the noble Baroness the Minister in her work on our behalf, I know that she needs no reminding of them. They are knowledge, support and attitudes. There is more to the world in world development than simply crisis management and the reaction to natural disasters across the world. There is more to world development than assuming that we know better than anyone else how to address human need. It is not always true, I am afraid, in the political sense, but the honest acknowledgement has to be made that certain needs across the world are caused by local mismanagement and local failure and that all the outside aid in the world will not necessarily change that situation. Lastly, there must be recognition of the excellent work being done by the ODA and the prime importance today of links between the ODA and the NGOs.
In 1979 the Government discontinued the development fund. In that instant the challenge was thrown down to the voluntary sector, including the Churches and voluntary organisations. I am glad to say that the challenge was accepted. An average of £4 million per annum has been generated from those sources. Without apology, I for one pay tribute this evening to the work of agencies such as Christian Aid and Save The Children Fund. They are but two of a magnitude of similar agencies.
In all honesty, however, I must also say that the Government have not done enough to promote the importance of global perspectives in education. While the ODA gives support to a number of NGOs involved in development education, that level of support, to our shame, is small compared with the majority of donor aid countries. That surely should be of particular concern for the Department for Education and Employment.
I presume to remind the House of the Minister's words, which she used in 1993. She said:Part of our jobs must be to communicate the reality of what happens in other countries around the world in the developing world. And that is where development education comes in".It is in that context, in the moments that are left to me, that I want to concentrate on one aspect of development education; namely, communication. I refer in particular 364 to the role of the BBC World Service. One hundred and forty million regular listeners tune in to the BBC World Service. Since 1990 that audience has increased by 13 million. It has become the most trusted source of news and information among the international broadcasting networks. Like others in this House, I can relate occasions in developing countries at times of tension and war, which I have myself experienced, when it was a lifeline to those of us who felt cut off from our home country. I think only of the events in which I was involved some years ago in the hostage crisis in the Middle East, when it was not only a lifeline to those of us who tried to help; it was a lifeline to the hostages themselves.
Yet the cuts in 1996–97 amount to some £5.4 million. The cuts in 1997–98 are much more serious. The FCO had already planned a cut of £2 million in operating costs for 1997–98; it has now added a further £2.5 million cut to that, plus£9.5 million to the capital budget. Taking into account inflation and operating consequentials of PFI (Private Finance Initiative) that adds up to nearly £20 million.
I am particularly concerned to learn that there has been an extremely sharp decline in documentary TV programmes on international topics and, more particularly, on developing countries in recent years. I for one find that fact most alarming because surely television is the primary source of information on world affairs for more than 70 per cent. of the British people. Documentaries often add depth and background context to news coverage of international stories.
I may be a voice in the wilderness, but I make the plea that even now these cuts be re-examined, for I believe that in the spirit of the debate which the noble Earl has so ably introduced, such things as the BBC overseas service is a practical way of acknowledging the role of our nation in what I earlier described as bringing the moral responsibility of knowing and caring about the needs of the world to the agenda of everyday life.
In his introduction the noble Earl suggested that we need a national debate. We have heard calls like that before in this House and in another place. But I seriously suggest to the House this evening that this is a debate which will not go away and, as the right reverend Prelate who spoke before me reminded us, touches and concerns not only individual lives, but the whole image of our nation in a one-nation world. I beg to support the words of the noble Earl in his introduction.
§ 7.23 p.m.
§ Lord Northbourne
My Lords, I would also like to thank very much the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, for bringing this subject to our attention this evening. It is perhaps sad that not more of the places in this House are occupied.
I do not share the noble Earl's sense of guilt about the work of our colonial services. I am just old enough to have seen the work of the colonial civil servants in Malawi. It was something of which I was extremely proud. In the few minutes available to me I wish to show the link between development education and sustainable 365 development, because I believe that this link is very important in underlining the importance of development education.
Some years ago I was chairman of an organisation for sending volunteers overseas. They were young people leaving university and they were sent under the British volunteer programme. I attended a number of the briefing and debriefing sessions. I was deeply moved by the humility which the experience induced in those young people. The year or two years they spent in a developing country taught them how much they had to learn about life as well as how much they had to give.
In the past the philosophy of aid was to export high-tech western solutions wholesale. There was an arrogant assumption that our own technology must be applicable and relevant across the world—no less arrogant perhaps than the assumption that Westminster democracy is capable of being transplanted without adaption. It was Fritz Schumacher, the author of Small is Beautiful, who first popularised the idea that the third world may need radically different solutions because the problems are different. That led to the concept of appropriate technology, which was developed by what was then known as the Intermediate Technology Development Group, which I believe now calls itself Intermediate Technology.
The mindset of appropriate technology, as many of your Lordships will know, is this. High-tech solutions are not always the best. High capital, low labour solutions are not always the best. We must look at the facts of the case in each case. Appropriate technology is about solving problems in ways which are appropriate to the availability and skills of people, to the availability of capital, to the sustainable supply of raw materials and energy and to the ability to absorb pollution or waste. It is that sustainable element which links the concept of appropriate technology with that of sustainable development.
What is interesting is that these same principles are equally applicable in the developed world as they are in the under developed world. They are equally applicable in the rich world and the poor world. As regards Africa, I was recently given an example of how the traditional skills of the potter and the local supplies of mud clay are being used to make clay pipes which are then used for land drainage. The technology of pipe-making and of land drainage are high-tech inputs, but they are making use of local skills and materials. In the same way local potters' skills and local clay are used for developing cooking stoves, which are so important in many countries where the supply of firewood, the only available fuel, is rapidly running out. A proper wood stove can reduce the consumption of firewood by about 70 per cent.
In England one gets a similar use of ingenuity and technology in a very simple way which has always struck me as very impressive; namely, in the development of the baby pushchair with eight wheels. If one has a pushchair with four wheels it cannot be collapsed. If one has a pushchair with eight 366 wheels—and wheels are very cheap and easy to produce nowadays—one can collapse it into something like an umbrella when it is not being used.
There is one other example. The Intermediate Technology Development Group is working in Nepal to produce small hydro-electric generating plants which can give electricity supplies for lighting at night and work machinery during the daytime. It is interesting that a friend of mine is using precisely the same technology in northern Europe and Canada to take advantage of millponds which were used for sawmilling and other purposes, and feeding the electricity that they generate back into the grid. Exactly the same technology is being used in both worlds.
Because appropriate development is a concept which is universally applicable to the solution of design problems, it is an important—nay, an essential—ingredient in the proper teaching of design and technology in schools. There is a way in which development education can be integrated into the curriculum without necessarily having a special curriculum slot. It can become a cross-curricular theme and will then be seen as even more relevant than if it were isolated into one period of the week on, say, a Friday evening. I hope that the Government will encourage the schools to link third-world development issues with an understanding of appropriate development as a concept equally applicable in the North and the South, in rich and poor countries alike. Of course, the needs, resources and ecological problems will be different in every case.
If we are to be effective in the future in supporting the developing world, that means also the developing marketplace, as the right reverend Prelate pointed out, and it is essential that our children learn to think in terms of appropriate solutions and to avoid extravagant and unsustainable use of resources and unacceptable pollution both in the developing countries and at home.
§ 7.31 p.m.
§ Lord McNair
My Lords, I thank the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, for tabling this Motion for debate, and I support everything that he said about the need to give a higher priority and more money to development education.
When I did geography in the fifties we learned about Heidi who lived on a little farm in the Swiss Alps and helped her parents to milk the cows and herd the animals. We also learned about Mohinder who lived in a little village in India. Now Heidi and Mohinder are quite likely to live either side of Janet and John. How much the world has changed—in some places and in some respects too much for comfort, while in others not enough.
We need to make sense of that process of change. We need to achieve what I believe to be the right approach, one that leads to a sense of unity in diversity with awareness and understanding. For that to become a reality, development education has to be a priority and must be strongly linked to issues such as the environment, decision-making, science and citizenship.
367 Development is complex and few professionals even appreciate its complexity because of the traditionally narrow focus of expertise. Economists need to be trained to understand more science and technology. Policy-makers need to have a better understanding of geography and the environment. Ecologists need a better understanding of mathematical and economic models. A broadly based development education is just as necessary for professionals as for children of all ages.
I am indebted to Jonathan Briggs, the IT adviser—"IT" here stands for "information technology", not "intermediate technology"—of the World Wide Fund for Nature's UK Education Department, for drawing my attention to their Aswan High Dam CD-ROM project. That is a teaching resource for development strategy. While compiling the package, he and colleagues spoke to many experts in, for example, policy, water management, agriculture and economics, of whom few had a broad picture of how their area of expertise impacted on other sectors and professional areas.
The project was based on work with the International Multimedia Consortium for Environment and Development. One key tool in enabling professionals in different areas to talk the same language is modelling. It can be a mathematical model, but it can also be something much simpler, which I shall describe later. Information technology offers both professionals and students the opportunity to look at issues in the round and see how different viewpoints interact.
However, we should not think only of what could become an ivory tower approach to development education. The very simplest ideas can have powerful and far-reaching benefits, and take root and develop their own momentum. As the noble Lord, Lord Northbourne, said, an enormous amount has been done over more than a quarter of a century by the Intermediate Technology Development Group at Rugby. Intermediate Technology has delegated the creation of practical solutions using appropriate technology to many everyday problems of living in poorer countries to offices in other parts of the world and now concentrates on advocacy of development projects which dovetail into the existing level of technology in the area under discussion.
The noble Lord, Lord Northbourne, touched on an example of that, and I should like to add to what he said. I refer to the Arun Dam project in Nepal where the World Bank is thinking again about the wisdom of a large-scale project that bypasses local technology—indeed, bypasses local people because it would be uneconomic to supply communities in the vicinity of the dam. Such issues need to be made real to professionals and schoolchildren in the developed world so that decisions are made by taking all aspects of the situation into account. Today's schoolchildren are tomorrow's decision-makers. The Intermediate Technology Development Group also has an extensive and effective track record in development education but, as other noble Lords have said, it is hampered by a lack of funds. With a little more money, it could do a lot more work.
I shall now take on the role of development educator myself and give the House an overview of a contribution to world development that should be far better known 368 than it is at present, one that is having a hugely beneficial effect in many parts of the world. It also has lessons for us that apply to the whole of education, including development education. The point has been made that development is not just about the nuts and bolts of technology; far more fundamentally, it is about unleashing the potential of individuals. It was individuals who created our industrialisation in Britain and it is individuals who are going to make the difference in the third world.
There are two initiatives from Africa among many educational projects using this study method which deserve particular mention in this respect as they give individuals the educational tools that they need to be able to study, understand and apply any subject. I mentioned modelling earlier, and I should like to describe one aspect of this approach to education where modelling plays an important role.
The key datum is that when a person has a full, conceptual understanding of something, they are able to portray it in some form, whether by using odds and ends to represent the component parts of the idea or sketching it or using modelling clay to represent it. If a person is unable to do that, there is some aspect of it that they do not fully understand and a re-study of all or part of it is indicated. That completely eliminates vacuous learning by rote. The first, second and third worlds all need people who can apply what they have learned.
There are other components of this methodology, such as knowing the purpose of studying a particular subject or topic, and the identification and elimination of the three barriers to study, but time does not permit me a more detailed discussion of them.
Modelling is also important to enable people to share their world view with others, whether it is done on a sophisticated piece of software or whether, as in the case of the schoolchildren of Zimbabwe, it is done using locally available clay that is cheap and plentiful.
The entire teacher-training programme of Zimbabwe is undergoing a fundamental re-orientation. Having successfully achieved their goal of education in quantity by creating schools in the remotest part of the country, the Government there have turned their attention to improving quality, using the methodology that I have been describing. To that end, they have embarked on an ambitious, five-year programme to retrain all their existing teachers and to train all the new teachers in the new methods. In case some noble Lords are worried that "new methods" might mean the discredited disaster that began in the 1960s in the developed world, I should emphasise that the educational process that I am describing is precisely the best way to ensure that the basics, and more complex studies, are fully absorbed and available for use as I described earlier.
I am running out of time, so I can give only one example. I am privileged, as a Scientologist, to be kept informed of those and other achievements of my fellow Scientologists who now number some 8 million worldwide. The educational method which I have just mentioned is the Hubbard Study Technology, which is based on research by the author and humanitarian, L. Ron Hubbard, who also founded my religion. In fact, 369 as well as being a prolific author, his gift to world development encompasses education, training in business and administrative skills, and moral education. The uptake of those courses is running at a rate of expansion of about 40 per cent. per annum—and for one reason only: people find them to be effective and useful. Large-scale projects implementing the educational programme are also under way in Colombia and China, and there are many smaller projects in many other countries. It is also used for inner-city projects in the United Kingdom.
I said at the beginning of my remarks that I saw the purpose of development education as being to achieve a sense of unity in diversity with awareness and understanding. One aspect that occurs to me is that intercultural education among the different cultures living together in the United Kingdom has a part to play in the process because development does not take place in a cultural vacuum. It is greatly affected by, and in turn affects, the culture in which it takes place. To understand that culture will make it easier to comprehend what is happening in the poorer countries of the world.
§ 7.40 p.m.
§ Lord St. John of Bletso
My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Sandwich for introducing today's debate. As noble Lords will be aware, my noble friend speaks from an enormous amount of experience and expertise on this subject. My only regret is that as a Cross-Bench debate there are not more contributions from the other Benches to this extremely important matter.
The debate appears to address two distinct issues: development communication and development education. Both are vital to Britain's standing in the world or, more accurately, understanding at home and abroad of sustainable development in developing countries. What is it, why does it seem to be so elusive and what is Britain doing on its own, and collectively through the European Union and multilateral institutions, to promote it? In considering development communication, I welcome the policy of the ODA to "laser beam" on the poorest countries and the most vulnerable people in those countries (to use President Clinton's parlance). I also welcome the ODA's commitment to sustainable development and the emphasis in its bilateral and multilateral activities to support human rights, democracy and good governance.
There appears to be a clear shift away from a belief that a few hundred Potemkin projects dotted around the developing world will do much to stimulate long-term development. With this new emphasis, my call today is for more effective support and funding for communication. This call was eloquently elaborated upon by my noble friend Lord Eames. Communication is the warp and weft of sustainable development. How can greater awareness of problems and solutions be created without information? How can projects be replicated and effectively disseminated without reliable information, everything from villager talking to villager to satellite television broadcasts?
370 I declare an interest as president of Friends of Television Trust of the Environment, a charity established in Britain 10 years ago, which is committed to the production and distribution of films on all aspects of global sustainable development. One of the objectives of Her Majesty's Government, ably steered by the noble Baroness, Lady Chalker, is to help promote democracy in developing countries. But what is the hallmark of any democratic society? Surely, it is the free flow of information. A survey conducted in 1993 by Inter Press news service in Rome found that less than 0.1 per cent. of development assistance went to this most vital of all sectors. The nub of the problem is that there are no readymade indicators or handy graphs to chart the increase in, say, rice production or housing units. Project appraisals require measurable results. Unfortunately, awareness building and public education can rarely deliver results in such concrete terms; yet, as noble Lords are aware, it is public opinion that leads. For example, would we have a protocol to ban CFCs if it were not for the international fuss that followed the British discovery of the hole in the ozone layer?
When it comes to modern communications, Britain is an acknowledged leader. We hear so much of the information revolution and the 300 or so satellites in geo-stationary orbit that have broken governments' stranglehold on information around the world. They beam down pictures to 1 billion or more television sets, or nearly one for every five people on the planet. But what do viewers get from this orbital tower of Babel? They get pop stars, soap operas and quiz shows. I shudder to think of the impact that this output has on developing countries where the single biggest consumer item is the colour television set.
TVE has met almost 35,000 orders for programmes on environmental and developmental issues in developing countries. Next month is the start of the world's first weekly news feed on sustainable development via BBC World with Sir David Attenborough. First and foremost, its mission is to help programme makers from developing nations express their views on development. I am happy to note that that activity has been generously supported by the ODA. But for every 10 orders that it receives, the trust can respond to only one. This unique service exists only through the support of ODA's counterparts in Holland, Denmark and Sweden.
It is vital that the public in Britain should be made more aware of what Her Majesty's Government, and especially the ODA, are doing to address the needs of developing countries. For example, I am sure that few members of the British public are aware of the recent agreement signed by the Minister and the Mpumalanga Premier in South Africa for Britain to spend R14 million over the next three years in retraining 1,600 primary school teachers in that province in mathematics, English, science and technology, ably assisted by British educational specialists.
Unfortunately, time precludes me from saying much about the second issue raised in this debate: development education in our country. The subject has been comprehensively and ably covered by other noble Lords who have spoken, in particular my noble friend 371 Lord Sandwich. Like other noble Lords, I commend the work of the Development Education Association in promoting the efforts of all those organisations engaged in bringing about better public understanding in the United Kingdom of global and development issues. Compared with many other countries in Europe, such as Austria, Belgium, Denmark and the Netherlands, sadly the British Government give minimal support to development education. A recent survey sponsored by the International Broadcast Trust revealed that United Kingdom television showed less and less about the world inhabited by three-quarters of humanity.
Crisis and disaster are the staple output of news broadcasts. With rare and honourable exceptions, such as Channel 4's Africa Express, the view one gets is of continents riven by corruption, natural disaster and political instability. The other more positive picture of a developing world that returns its investments, continents that need modest investments to unleash enterprise and more people better fed than at any time in history, rarely comes through on our television screens. Many NGOs in this country do sterling work to educate the public through formal and non-formal channels. There are only two minority television channels that are prepared to give serious coverage of the third world, and yet we know that 80 per cent. of the public in this country cite television as their first source of information. One of the tasks of Friends of Television Trust of the Environment is to develop a thematic development education video library for the United Kingdom. The trust has access to hundreds of films that have never been broadcast in this country which can be a major resource for the multipliers.
In conclusion, I ask the Minister whether she can give any indication about further investment and encouragement by Her Majesty's Government in the work of the NGOs and agencies that are committed to promoting development education in the United Kingdom—an investment to ensure that our citizens know what their role is in the global village, so long predicted and now a reality.
§ 7.50 p.m.
§ Viscount Craigavon
My Lords, I congratulate my noble friend Lord Sandwich on choosing this subject for debate today and on giving us notice yesterday in a little meeting we had in another part of the building that he would pursue it. I am not an expert on the subject, but I agree with him that there should be a national debate on it. It will be difficult to put it into motion, and the type of national debate may turn out to be more political than we sitting here might think.
In his excellent speech, the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Worcester asked a number of questions. They were political. They were about debt and levels of consumption. He said that we were living beyond our means. He said that was a difficult question for politicians to deal with. The national debate may be more political than we might think.
372 Those of us who have been in the House long enough may remember the late Lord Hatch of Lusby. This was one of his subjects. He had a particular agenda. He did not seem to engage the sympathy of the House on the subject, but I believe that the climate has changed.
I shall focus on the educational and advocacy work of the charity Population Concern, and the importance of putting what, in shorthand, I shall call "population" as an essential part of development education. Before I do so I should like to mention two other matters which have already been partly touched upon.
First, my noble friend Lord Sandwich asked an oral Question on this subject last week. I intended to ask the Minister an innocent question about the effectiveness of one of her department's main publications entitled British Overseas Development. I was interested to know the audience at which it is targeted. The subtitle of that fairly glossy publication, which usually has a schools section, is, "How British aid works in partnership with developing countries".
I now understand that the future direction of that magazine might be under review as part of a larger reassessment of communications. Nevertheless, I should be grateful if the Minister would give us her thoughts as to how her department might be intending to communicate cost-effectively to a wider public the non-emergency achievements of the ODA.
Secondly, perhaps I may mention an aspect of the work of the International Broadcasting Trust which is supported by the major and some smaller UK development charities. It provides a continuing base and organisation for high quality television programmes about development, environmental and human rights issues.
The vital role of television broadcasting has already been mentioned, in particular by the noble Lords, Lord Eames and Lord St. John. According to the ITC, more than 70 per cent. of the British public—I believe Lord St. John said 80 per cent.—cites television as its main source of information on international issues.
This country has a reputation for excellent standards of documentaries, but in recent years there has been a marked decline in international coverage, especially of developing countries. According to research by the Third World and Environment Broadcasting Project, which is related and connected to the IBT, on the BBC, that decline in the five years to 1994 has been of the order of 30 or 40 per cent. (according to whether peak time broadcasts alone are measured).
Similar declines in coverage have taken place on ITV and, although not so sharply, on Channel 4. The IBT and documentary makers have obviously to be responsive to the needs and pressures that changing circumstances present. What is of concern is that a publicly accessible record of the extent of such programming, and its decline is not available from the broadcasters. That the BBC, or the BBC governors, for example, should be so aware, was advocated by the noble Lords, Lord Dubs and Lord Elis-Thomas, in the debate on the BBC Charter in this House on 9th January. I echo the importance of that request.
373 Geography has been mentioned during the debate. According to the BBC education department, 87 per cent. of all secondary school geography departments use mainstream TV programmes as teaching aids in the classroom.
I come now to my main subject—what I called earlier "population", by which I mean the wider concerns of population and reproductive health, in the implied context of sustainability. As the House may know, the Minister in particular and her department have a very good record in this area, but I believe that she would agree with me that it is especially important in this sphere to have the informed support of the public. That is so not just in the providing of funds but to raise the standard of the debates and arguments that break out periodically on this issue.
It is part of the remit of the charity Population Concern, which was originally part of the FPA but became independent in 1991, to provide information and education in the UK on this subject. Because of the longer term effects and results of what is done in this field, it sometimes seems a difficult issue to advocate; but it is increasingly and more widely seen as an essential part of the more fashionable sustainability at which we are all meant to be aiming.
In the UK, Population Concern has limited resources to provide some specialised educational material to schools. In addition, it holds successful schools conferences—usually twice a year—for large numbers of students in a particular town or city. With a dramatic speaker such as its president, Dr. David Bellamy, the hope is to put population growth into the wider green context of sustainability, including mention of the levels of consumption in this country.
I describe that partly to show on what a relatively small scale such educational endeavours take place. Similarly, on wider public awareness, again resources are understandably limited, and, as in other examples we have heard today, a greater reliance has to be placed upon the good sense of the media.
A limited amount of direct advertising is possible for an organisation such as Population Concern, and it so happens that this week it has the back page of The House magazine. That is appropriate this week as it is flash-banded "International women's week" which some of us learnt about for the first time last night in "Today in Parliament".
This debate is not the place to advocate the merits of reproductive health, but I hope that the Minister and her department will continue to encourage the education and advocacy roles of Population Concern. They are essential to a full understanding of the wider concept of global sustainability to which we are all committed in the long term.
Finally, as I have a minute, I hope the House will allow me to take the opportunity to congratulate the Minister on the particular and rare honour that she has been given in this field in being asked to deliver the Rafael Salas Memorial Lecture at the UNFPA, I believe at the end of the month. Mr. Salas was a former director of the UNFPA. This is an annual lecture which is given 374 at the UN in New York. She will be following in the illustrious footsteps of people such as Mrs. Brundtland, Robert McNamara and Prince Philip. It is a well-deserved honour for the work she has done in this field, and we wish her well.
§ 8 p.m.
§ Baroness Willoughby de Eresby
My Lords, in a country which not so long ago was a trading empire, the British Government spend surprisingly little on development education. When I left school I felt that I was a citizen of the world. I felt special ties and responsibilities to countries of the Commonwealth. We shared the experience of the war. Those who are now completing their education do not have the same sense of shared experience. The links of goodwill and friendship which we still have around the world will weaken unless young people when leaving school have a global awareness of interdependence and a sense of responsibility as world citizens. I therefore welcome the initiative of my noble friend Lord Sandwich in bringing forward this debate on development education. I hope that tonight is the beginning of a debate which will long continue.
For more than a quarter of a century I have worked on and off for overseas development projects at community level, mainly with the Save the Children Fund. At this late hour I wish to make only two points. There is a huge amount of material within the NGOs' work overseas waiting to be put in a format that can be used. It was very frustrating for those who worked full-time (unlike myself), who gave their lives to working in development overseas and who had the information and were asked for it by the universities in the countries in which they worked and by international agencies; but it was not within our remit to spend funds on developing academic material.
The material exists and is waiting to be used. Relatively small amounts of funding would release the knowledge that has been accumulated by the NGOs from their overseas work into the national curriculum and environmental education. Within secondary education there are cross-curricular themes on economic understanding. The domestic context in which that is taught could easily be expanded into a global one. Recently the Department for Education and Employment co-operated with the Department for the Environment to fund cross-curricular environmental studies. The pattern exists and the Department for Education and Employment could explore, in co-operation with the ODA, the possibility of putting a small amount of funding towards that.
One of the main trends in the work of the NGOs overseas with their partner countries has been the increasing emphasis on in-service training. That ranges from kindergarten teachers with a few years of primary education behind them, to health workers with even less, through middle management and technicians, to the specialists courses developed within the universities. In-service specialist training is perhaps the most cost-effective form of development aid which can be given. However, the initial trainers need to be trained within this country.
375 There is a wide role for co-operation and co-operative funding between the Department for Education and Employment and the ODA to look at this subject through courses run within institutions of higher and further education. I hope that the debate that has begun will reach towards that. It is an area to which in the future we may see more aid being channelled. The importance of in-service training overseas and training in the countries within which we work cannot be too greatly emphasised.
In supporting the Motion of my noble friend Lord Sandwich in calling for Papers on the role of the Government in development education in the United Kingdom, I wish to say how much the World Service means to countries overseas. As we live in a country in which we sometimes feel the press is almost too free and untrammelled, it is sometimes difficult to realise what it is like to live in a country in which the only way of knowing what is happening there is to tune in to the World Service Overseas.
§ 8.7 p.m.
§ Lord Redesdale
My Lords, I too thank the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, for initiating the debate. During the time that he has been a Member of your Lordships' House he has shown that he has a great deal of optimism as regards development, which is most refreshing to see. However, he showed optimism about the ability of the English cricket team in the World Cup which I am afraid I do not share.
The world is becoming a much smaller place and I find it amazing that one can travel to any country in Africa in less than 12 hours. Considering that the world is such a small place, it is also interesting to discover that there is little real knowledge about the situation on the ground in many countries in Africa. I must admit that in my own schooling I had no education in development—at least none that I remember—and many people can say that they had a lack of teaching. My knowledge about development comes from living, working and travelling in Africa for two years. When I was there in 1991 I worked out that moving between Nairobi and South Africa were about 40 travellers from many different countries. There were so few that one could almost count them. It was ridiculous. The problem is that among the general public few people have knowledge about what is going on in those countries. Of course, I do not include those working for the various organisations. I do not include the noble Lord, Lord St John of Bletso, because he always brings to our debates a wide knowledge of Africa.
One of the problems about there being so few people who know about the area is that often many of the solutions to situations in Africa do not meet the needs. The noble Lord, Lord Northbourne, raised that issue. Although the situation is changing, I remember talking to subsistence farmers who had been advised to use fertiliser which they could neither obtain nor afford because it was beyond their means.
We must look at local solutions. Recently I heard a piece of good news about a clockwork radio which has been developed in Africa. It was pioneered in this 376 country. I know that it sounds absolutely ridiculous but batteries are almost impossible to obtain in many parts of Africa and are extremely expensive. Therefore, a clockwork radio which can be produced in developing countries is an amazingly useful device. I am not sure whether it can pick up the World Service. The Minister seems to believe that it can. Therefore, I hope that no cuts will be made to the World Service which may reduce the ability of people to listen to it, as I believe the World Service is an extremely useful tool for the dissemination of information about Britain.
The point of the debate is to look at the way in which people in this country gain information about the developing world. I should point out that I was surprised to discover that every child now has to learn about development from primary level to the age of 14. We welcome that. It is a significant step forward. Development education is now a compulsory part of the national curriculum.
Perhaps I may raise a few suggestions to improve that form of education, which I ask the Minister to think about. I believe that more should be done in the area of teacher training so that teachers are given more information and do more groundwork on which to base their education. Funding needs to be earmarked by the DFEE to support teacher training in the specific area of development education. That is particularly so in the case of primary school teachers who are not specialists in that field and in many cases often have no real knowledge of development issues.
I realise that some NGOs have organised excellent in-service training programmes. At this point, I must declare an interest as I am vice-chairman of World Aware. But NGOs have very limited resources and if the schemes are not run by the DFEE, NGOs themselves will have only a limited impact. Therefore, I ask the Minister what steps are being taken within the department to ensure the provision of relevant teaching material and, indeed, what funding has been provided to produce that.
I was surprised to find also that development education is not referred to specifically in the national curriculum. It is not mentioned within the youth work core curriculum. It is unfortunate that it does not have the same status and recognition as environmental education. That situation would be quite difficult to remedy, since development education is buried within one area and one concept; namely, geography. Will the Minister give an indication as to how development could be developed further into a subject on its own?
Noble Lords have mentioned the role of the media is disseminating information. We do not have a very responsible media. Very few good stories are publicised and one rarely sees the name of the ODA other than in connection with disaster relief. There are many areas in which the good news about development could be spread. That is happening slowly. Much of the work being done at present in South Africa is being aired on the television and is being brought forward. However, we should ensure that information is given to children so that they have 377 positive images of the area. If that is not done, they will be left with the image of a third world which is suffering desperately.
§ 8.15 p.m.
§ Lord Rea
My Lords, the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, has presented the case for development education gently but thoroughly and persuasively. Something that has come out of the speech made by the noble Earl, and four other speakers, including the right reverend Prelate and the noble Lord, Lord Eames, is that despite our long historical connection with the world beyond Europe, the Government are far from generous in their support for development education, particularly compared with a number of other countries some of which have never had a colonial past.
The noble Baroness would perhaps be in a stronger position in the annual spending round if the nationwide constituency for development assistance was larger and better informed. But people and particularly children are now more globally aware than they used to be because of travel and also because of the more international population that we have in our midst.
As the majority of noble Lords have pointed out, images on television whet the appetite to know more about other places and cultures. But too often the fairly rare programmes which there are on overseas issues are centred more on environmental concerns where people are the enemy or on programmes on animal or plant life rather than human life. I do not run down the incredibly skilled programmes that are made about wildlife in all countries of the world. Indeed, I am addicted to them. But where people feature, they are often the victims of conflict or disaster, natural or man-made. There are not enough success stories or programmes which show how good development can prevent or mitigate future disasters.
On previous occasions the noble Baroness has remarked on how 80 per cent. or more of media coverage concentrates on the 20 per cent. or less of the ODA's work which is concerned with emergency relief. A few years ago, in answer to a Harris poll, 82 per cent. of adults said that they should know what is happening in developing countries but only 45 per cent. of them felt that their knowledge was adequate.
Editors and programme directors seem to think that development is not newsworthy, despite the existence of many gifted journalists who sometimes manage to squeeze first-class news items past editors. That is sometimes only as feature articles and occasionally as real news. We could do very much better in that area. If the Government were more pro-active towards development education, editors and directors of programmes would respond. That is certainly an area which Labour will explore in due course. If properly handled, it should not require very much extra government money.
In the field of television, an exception is the Open University, which has set a very fine example through courses here and outreach to other countries; for example, South Africa, Zimbabwe, eastern Europe and 378 the former Soviet Union. Government assistance for development education is not generous. I believe that I have done my sums slightly differently from the noble Earl. I find that Government spending represents £640,000, which is just over 1.1p per head of the population. A number of other countries do far better. Sweden, which is top of the list, spends £1.22 per head of its population. The Netherlands, Austria, Belgium, Denmark and Ireland all do well with more than 40 pence per head.
The noble Earl quoted the President of Ireland, Mary Robinson, saying,Development education challenges complacency".In the same speech she continued:a tolerant and emphatic Ireland demands such a challenge for its vibrant and dynamic realisation".However, development education in the UK depends, as we have heard, on NGOs which contribute more than £5 million. That is eight times as much as the Government, though some of the money that the NGOs receive comes from the ODA, and the Open University receives a government grant. However, the future of the Open University's funding is now in doubt; and many NGOs are worried about whether their funding will be sustained.
As other noble Lords have said, development education should start, as it often starts, in schools, where lifelong attitudes can be formed. But that is not the end of the matter. There are hundreds of examples of good practice through local development education centres and local authorities up and down the country. Most of those are funded locally or with NGO assistance. Their programmes have been imaginative: building links with overseas communities, staging cultural events, and exchange programmes. The local initiatives which they have shown deserve greater central support, if not in cash terms, at least with more central government blessing and encouragement.
Perhaps I may say a few words about schools. Global perspectives in education can be slotted into almost every subject within today's national curriculum. The curriculum leaves much to the ingenuity and inventiveness of individual schools and teachers. The Development Education Association's book of guidelines gives suggestions for teachers on how almost every subject can be given a global aspect. It may be easy to understand how geography, history or science can have a development aspect, but even mathematics can be taught with a global view. It suggests using as a database Go bananas, a book published by Oxfam which traces the journey of a banana from the Caribbean to the UK, with photographs and a map. It suggests other cross-curricular applications and activities.
Teachers have to be convinced of the need to teach from the global point of view. Development education needs to be part of teacher training, as the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, said. While there are some good pioneering programmes, especially at Goldsmiths College, progress is still patchy. It would be interesting to know what the Department for Education and Employment is doing about that, if anything.
379 Much teaching about development issues in schools has until now been provided for or contributed to by NGOs, especially Oxfam, Christian Aid and the Council for Education in World Citizenship, to name a few. It would be interesting to know—if the figure can be separated—how much the Department for Education spends on development education. Can the noble Baroness give us any figures on that?
I was sad to hear that the government funding for the Council for Education in World Citizenship is being phased out. Is that really true? The organisation has been around for as long as I can remember, doing very good work in increasing international understanding.
This has been a useful debate of which we on these Benches will take note. We shall study the many well informed and careful speeches. I have not been able to acknowledge everyone who has spoken. However, if and when there is a change of government, we hope to restore development education to its rightful place and set up a development education council to co-ordinate national policy, which will co-operate with the Development Education Association. I see that my 10 minutes are up. I have more to say, but I shall leave the matter there.
§ 8.25 p.m.
§ The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey)
My Lords, it has been an interesting debate. I am pleased that there is such a strong interest both in our development assistance programme and in its communication to our people at home and overseas.
Just as important, there are many noble Lords who are anxious that aid and development issues are understood much more widely than at present. I believe that the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Worcester said that we need a clearer vision of the world. That is one thing that certainly I or my colleagues in the department are seeking to give: a clearer, realistic vision of the world. That is why I have always participated in the One World Week and the excellent organisation that that gives us.
First, I congratulate the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, upon his work on development education and upon securing this debate. As colleagues will realise, it follows very closely on his oral Question last week and indeed a Question for Written Answer the week before that. The noble Earl is quickly building a reputation as a development education expert in this House.
I hope that we shall all mark and inwardly digest the words of the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, in his excellent maiden speech last November. They really were most apposite. He said:Development education is not secondary to our support for other countries; it is a part of it".—[Official Report, 16/11/95; col. 39.]"One hundred per cent. right", is the only comment that I can make on that. We are living in an increasingly interdependent world. It is important that people are aware of major economic and social issues affecting developing countries. These issues are much too often ignored by the British media but they affect us all. Instability and poverty in any country undermine peace and prosperity in many others in both the North and the 380 South. The environment, whether it he air, water, forestry, is shared. No country is immune from the effects of environmental degradation. Perhaps we have learnt a good deal since the hole in the ozone layer was found. Indeed, I believe that we have worked well since Rio in seeking to bring developing countries to an understanding of what can be done to help the environment in the future. Certainly, ODA is working very actively in that field.
I believe that it was the noble Baroness, Lady Willoughby de Eresby, who commented upon the lack of the right publicity, as did a number of noble Lords, including the noble Lord, Lord Rea. It is true that I attain around 90 per cent. of publicity for 12 per cent. of my budget; and that I really regret. However, ODA has been making a special effort, and we shall increase that still further, to make sure that the good news development stories—of which there are so many across the world—are put in a way which may persuade editors and those who decide the final version of newspapers and programmes to include the good news for a change, because there is a great deal of positive action going on.
We have an information programme, to which I attach great importance. I wish briefly to outline the information strategy. It is in two parts: activities which publicise the work of ODA and British development overseas; and activities which raise public awareness of opportunities for aid and development generally. Inevitably the two overlap. One cannot publicise our development work overseas without raising in the UK awareness of life in those developing countries. Our development education programmes also help to make people aware of why an organisation like the ODA must exist.
I shall deal with ODA's publicity first. This is achieved in a number of ways: liaising with the press; issuing publications such as our annual review; producing a bi-monthly newspaper, British Overseas Development—I shall return to that in just a moment—attending exhibitions, including our roadshow bus that tours the country; having our own pages on the Internet, and also through my speeches and television and radio interviews. We have tried to get as much coverage as we can reasonably achieve for the developments that we are so busy working upon. The noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, was absolutely right to say that we must have more coverage of long-term development.
A number of the operations which we carry out are really development education. The school section of the British Overseas Development newspaper consists largely of stories and features that cover development issues in ways that appeal to schoolchildren. However, we are looking at a revamp of British Overseas Development to make it even more useful, and not only to the youngest children. Our roadshow bus has a number of general exhibits on it to attract children and to excite their imagination. There are the weevils munching their way through a jar of maize to illustrate the damage that pests cause to crops. The bus also has a fuel efficient stove and a solar powered water pump to show there are other ways of generating power which 381 do not involve cutting down trees. What we are seeking to do with these exhibits is to put over in a simple way important points which will be remembered.
Our development education budget of almost £650,000 is not as large as I would like, but it is valuably spent on grants to NGOs with sound projects which promote factual information about development. Principally we provide the core grant to Worldaware—the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, has worked with that organisation in the past, and the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, is a vice chairman of it. I hope they know of its excellent contribution in this field although I think, from what the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, said tonight, he obviously has not learnt everything that Worldaware has put out.
We also support the Development Education Association, which was set up in 1993 to co-ordinate the work of all those involved in development education. We are currently helping to fund four projects which give a good snapshot of the work of that association: linking young people and global youth work; promoting awareness of development education in further education; building up greater access to information and resources; and working with ethnic minority groups in the United Kingdom. We are also supporting Education Partners Overseas, which has built up many links between schools in this country and the developing world. I met Tanzanian schoolchildren here in your Lordships' House just last year to help these links have a reality for those Tanzanians who came here. We were all sad to hear of the death last month of the first director of Education Partners Overseas, but we hope that many others will continue to work in Jean Burroughs' memory.
One of our newest ventures is the support for OneWorld Online. This is an organisation which puts development material on the Internet. It has just been voted Internet's site of the year by the Earth Times. It is now getting more than three-quarters of a million "hits" a month. For those who are interested in the subject and have access to computers, it is obviously a valuable way of putting out information. There are also two other new projects with great possibilities. The first is a proposal by the One World Broadcasting Group and the International Broadcasting Trust for a major magazine series on the developing world to be shown on Channel 4. A number of your Lordships have spoken of that. The other project just agreed is an initial grant—as the noble Lord, Lord St. John of Bletso, mentioned—to the Television Trust for the Environment. This is for research into a major project to commemorate the millennium with a television series on the developing world. We look forward to co-operating fully on that.
This is but a snapshot of our work on development education and awareness. I wish to comment on some of the remarks made in the debate. The noble Lord, Lord Eames, spoke of knowing and caring about the needs of the world. I fully agree with him. One of the things we should remember, and I hope tap into, is the actual strengths that exist in the developing countries themselves, because their experience teaches us and teaches the volunteer, and, I hope, may in turn better 382 inform the British public. The noble Lord is right to say that there are situations where one needs to help correct local mismanagement and prevent future failures. But if we work in partnership—as the ODA always tries to do—in these countries, we receive just as much back as we give in our teaching. I was grateful to the noble Lord for his recognition of how the ODA works.
I wish to say a few words about our links with the NGOs. The noble Lord, Lord Rea, was worried about whether their money will be sustained in the future. Every year since I have been in the department—all seven years—the grants to the NGOs from the ODA have increased. That will happen yet again for the financial year 1996–97. I have already informed the NGOs of that. Our ODA policy is to fund national organisations which have good projects, and in this particular case those who specialise in development education. There are a number of them: Worldaware, the Development Education Association, and Education Partners Overseas I have mentioned. We do not fund directly the development education work of the traditional NGOs but that is only because we do not wish to duplicate the work that the NGOs are doing, and many of them produce material of their own which is quite excellent. There is no reason for us to copy it. However, much of the work we do concerns development education. Although there are some first-class leaders in the field of development education among NGOs, we are looking to see what more we may do.
There have been a number of comments about the national curriculum during the debate tonight. I wish to make it quite clear that the study of developing countries is an integral part of the national curriculum. I do not go along with what the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, said, because schools have asked that we should have a moratorium on changes in the national curriculum at the present time, and that will be the case. It is a mandatory part of the syllabus of every child up to the age of 14 to be required to compare countries at different stages of development; in other words, one developed and one developing country. There is a similar theme for those taking geography at GCSE level. Junior schoolchildren study a locality, usually a small village or town in a developing country. Worldaware has provided course material for some of those studies.
There are links between Ofsted and Worldaware to consider the ways in which development education is taught in schools. An Ofsted member has a place on the Worldaware council. The recent Ofsted study noted that none of its inspectors' reports found any difficulties as regards teaching about development. That indeed is good news, but let us have more of that sort of good news. I might say to the noble Lord, Lord Rea, that I seem to remember as a youngster learning a great deal about hydraulics and metal stress through examples from the developing world. That was many, many years ago.
§ Baroness Chalker of Wallasey
My Lords, oh yes, it was a long while ago.
383 I was asked about teacher training and development education by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Worcester and by the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich. The DFEE is supporting teacher training in development education. It makes a grant—that has amounted to over £90 million since 1989<—to support school effectiveness under the national curriculum. It is up to the schools to decide whether they want to take that for teacher training, for books, equipment or management. I am sure that the noble Baroness, Lady Willoughby de Ereshy, will be glad to hear that. There are courses in the UK for in-service teachers and my noble friend Lord Henley, who is listening to this debate, will seek to give further information by letter on anything that I cannot cover tonight. However, there is a great deal of information available and I can inform the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, that we are working with the DFEE to consider what more we can do with it to provide more opportunities in this field.
There is nothing wrong with the European Union spending on development education. We should never forget that the United Kingdom contributes over 16 per cent. of the European Union budget, and this is a very good example of multilateral and bilateral spending complementing one another. There is also a good deal of work going on in the Open University and the Open University's work in development education has been particularly good in the use of four textbooks they have prepared on development and the new edition of the development atlas. There is a great deal more information about that available which I can let your Lordships have if you would wish.
We have talked this evening about the ODA's communications philosophy. We have recently carried out a communications survey. This has come up with a number of recommendations. We have already established a high level strategy group which will guide the Department on communications and therefore we will have, we hope, more of the good news which we collect all around the world getting out to those who need to be informed. We are already getting our staff to give us more information in the Information Department about what we are doing. We are formulating a more effective publication strategy because this is something with which I have not been totally satisfied.
I mentioned that British Overseas Development is being revamped. It has been a success and I am glad to say that the circulation has risen by over 60 per cent. in the last year. Of course BOD has been circulated free and goes to schools, businesses, engineers, journalists, many members of your Lordships' House and another place, and many interested members of the public, but we want to make sure that it is absolutely right for the future.
One of the things the noble Lord, Lord St John of Bletso, talked about was an improvement in communications, and that improvement has to be not only in this country but worldwide. That is why it was ODA who invested in the development of the free play wind-up radio, and I believe that that was £200,000 extremely well spent. The radio is being produced in a factory in Cape Town, mainly by disabled people, and it is beginning already to have the most remarkable 384 effect. We have bought the first 3,000 wind-up radios and are distributing them through NGOs and to others who can make good use of them. We hope that this will be a proper commercial project, because it deserves to be and it can be.
There were many other comments. The noble Lord, Lord Eames, spoke about the BBC World Service. I am second to nobody in my admiration for the World Service. It is a great national asset and the most successful international broadcasting service of any country. I wish that the BBC at home took more of the programmes that are actually produced by the World Service because they are of such high quality. However, we have to balance resources for the World Service with many others, including the Development Programme and the British Council. Each has a major role to play and we shall continue to ensure that they can make their unique contributions as effectively as possible.
There were a number of comments about large projects at the beginning of the debate tonight. May I say that, whereas there used to be large development projects, a great deal has changed and I can assure the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, and the noble Lord, Lord Northbourne, that we have much more simple technology which we use in many of our projects. If there were time I would describe the micro-hydro of Nepal to which the noble Lord, Lord Northbourne, was referring, but of course we support the Intermediate Technology Development Group and have done for many years. It is that sort of development technology which can work so well. In this case a little money does go a long way.
The noble Viscount, Lord Craigavon, spoke about the need for a national debate, not a party political one. I agree with him very much in this, and one of the welcome things is that the climate of opinion about development education has changed since the late Lord Hatch of Lusby first started his campaigning. It is a much more positive and much more co-operative campaigning that is going on. What is most important is that we should ensure that we pick up all those instances where something is said about development, examine them, and put them right. It therefore often falls to me to try to correct some of the myths that arise and I have to say that there are an increasing number of people on the ground in Africa who really do know what is going on and I do not think we should be misled by what the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, said. When he rereads his speech he will see what I mean.
May I say of the noble Viscount, Lord Craigavon, that I was grateful to him for his comments on ODA's good record and also for his underlining of the need for informed support. I well remember a school conference run by Population Concern in Harrogate way back in 1990. I hope they will go on doing their very valuable education work about family planning and sustainable development. Such work is absolutely vital. I thank the noble Viscount for his kind words about the Rafael Salas Memorial Lecture. I shall of course be talking partly about the whole question of development.
We are changing for the better; we are learning from the past and we are involving business in backing the development education that we are doing. We spend 385 over £2.2 billion of the public's money. We believe the public have a right to know how we spend it. That is why we are increasing our information effort and I am greatly encouraged by the interest taken in today's debate. I can assure your Lordships that we will continue to work to raise people's awareness of the reality of life in developing countries and will use every possible means at our disposal to do so.
§ 8.46 p.m.
§ The Earl of Sandwich
My Lords, it has been a great pleasure to introduce this debate and to hear so many supportive statements from noble Lords and finally by the Minister herself for a subject which I know she has well under control. I was very moved particularly by Lady Willoughby de Eresby's reference to the loss of contact around the world; and to the noble Lord, Lord Northbourne, I have nothing disparaging to say about colonial administrators, but I wish they had known about the appropriate technology in those days as well. I also wish there were more colonial administrators in this debate because the line of Benches before me is full of people who have extraordinary experience of development education. My Lords, where are they? I am sad that there is so little understanding of the nature of this debate on the Conservative Benches, and I hope that will be part of the Minister's development education campaign, perhaps through Central Office.
I am delighted to see the noble Lord, Lord Henley, in his place. Having watched him facing a phalanx of university chancellors and professors single handed on the Benches opposite I have nothing but admiration for him and I wish he were able to answer this debate because I know it particularly concerns him and it has not been quite fair that the task has fallen between two Ministers. However, I have seen the Ministers having conversations and I am ever hopeful that we shall see a joint approach with DFEE and ODA together. I am not certain that I have had enough encouragement from the Minister in the direction of the curriculum. It is true to say that teachers do not want to be interfered with and the curriculum has been established for a number of years, but we are now having to think forward about how we shall approach the curriculum in, let us say, three years. It may be less. Who knows what is going to happen next year after the general election? There may be a shake-up and we now need to think what is the joint approach that could be made. I urge the Minister to join with voluntary organisations.
I welcome the noble Lord, Lord Eames, for giving us a reminder of the moral responsibility and I know that he, perhaps alone in this debate, has experience of bringing people together in the most remarkable way. This is a talent which he has established and which I hope we shall follow in thinking about the value of other cultures together and their influence.
I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord St. John, and the noble Viscount, Lord Craigavon, for raising important questions, and to the right reverend Prelate for reminding us of the Church's involvement in his diocese.
386 I thank all those who have joined in the debate, and I am most grateful for the Minister's positive response. I beg leave to withdraw the Motion for Papers.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.