December 1999

No 212

MP at Centre for Citizenship Studies in Education, University of Leicester

George Foulkes, Minister in the Department for International Development, is to visit the University of Leicester Centre for Citizenship Studies on 13 December 1999.

The Centre plays a key role in advising Government on how the curriculum can be developed to help young people understand and feel able to influence the increasingly interdependent world in which we live. It is advising DfID on ways in which global perspectives might be introduced and strengthened within the national curriculum programmes of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The Department for International Development has allocated 5 million this year to the Development Awareness Fund, most of which is to be spent on supporting schools in bringing international development issues more centrally into their life and work. This money is being made available to non-governmental organisations, such as the network of development education centres across Britain, who can apply for support to fund projects in schools and in teacher education.

The Centre's Director, Professor Audrey Osler, together with a team of development education specialists from across the country, is making recommendations on how teachers and their students might consider questions of global interdependence, equality, justice and human rights. The team is also providing advice to DfID on bids to the Development Awareness Fund.

On his visit to the Centre for Citizenship Studies in Education George Foulkes will meet development education experts advising his Department and view work by children in local schools, where teachers are encouraging their pupils to see themselves as global citizens. The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Robert Burgess, will welcome the Minister to the University and stress the importance which the University attaches to DfID's work.

Primary and secondary schools will start teaching citizenship education as part of the national curriculum in England from September 2000. The Centre has a new course `Learning for Citizenship' which is currently attracting interest from local teachers.

It will be available nationally from the Autumn in a distance learning package. The course explores local, national and global aspects of citizenship and some of the barriers to participation, such as poverty or racism, which children from many communities may encounter. It examines how some schools have given pupils the chance to practise democracy, for example, through involving them in drawing up school rules and codes of conduct or by setting up class or school councils.

Until recently, development education has been carried out without Government support. Local organisations, usually serving their own cities or regions, have been left to produce teaching materials and training programmes, sometimes working in partnership with teachers, local education authorities and universities. These projects have generally been funded by aid agencies such as Christian Aid and Oxfam or by other local sponsors. Some schools have benefited from such initiatives but many teachers remain unaware of the materials available to them.

The Centre for Citizenship Studies in Education was set up in 1991 to promote citizenship education in schools and provide support to a network of schools across the country. Under its new Director, Professor Audrey Osler, the Centre is developing a number of research and evaluation programmes that address key questions of citizenship in education. These include a national study of school exclusions, how the OFSTED schools' inspection framework relates to racial equality, and an evaluation of the DfEE's new Ethnic Minority Achievement Grant.

Professor Audrey Osler said: "An effective citizenship education programme will enable all young people to feel confident in their own identities, give them skills and knowledge to participate in decision-making, and enable them to exercise their rights and responsibilities in an increasingly global and interdependent society. Such a programme is as critical to individual success and to the health of our democracy as the basic skills of literacy and numeracy".

A MORI Poll carried out in March 1998 showed that the vast majority of pupils believe that it is important to learn about global issues at school, and that young people need to understand global matters in order to make choices about how they want to lead their lives.

For further information, please contact:

Professor Audrey Osler, Director, Centre for Citizenship Studies in Education, Tel: 0116 252 3680/ 3688, Fax: 0116 252 3653, email: aho1@le.ac.uk or Susan Hemmings, telephone 0116 252 5794, email: seh11@le.ac.uk

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Last updated: 16 December 1999 12:17
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