Cuts to development education may increase public scepticism

Yesterday the first cuts at DfID were announced by the new Conservative administration.

Yesterday the first cuts at DfID were announced by the new Conservative administration, as new international development secretary Andrew Mitchell announced that projects designed to raise awareness of development issues amongst the UK public are to be scrapped.

He said:

“I’m surprised that Labour ministers thought these projects were the best use of British aid.”

Yet he has simply listed the projects to be cut without listing any explanation for their original rationale. In fact, development education in the UK has been an important part of DfID’s programme from it’s creation. As we have reported previously, DfID’s first White Paper in 1997 established the Building Support for Development programme (BSD) which addressed the need for an:

“Increased public understanding of our global mutual dependence and the need for international development.”

Stalls at music festivals may sound frivolous, but they are a tool many development NGOs use regularly in order to engage with the UK public to raise support for their work and their campaigns. Is training nursery school teachers so that they can make children aware of the world they live in from an early age such a bad idea?

This follows articles in The Times and by the right-wing think tank IPN criticising the spending of aid in the UK, reported here previously. In DfID’s first White Paper the then Secretary of State Clare Short stated in the foreword the need for:

“An informed public opinion [to] help ensure that the UK plays its full role in generating the international political will necessary to meet the international poverty eradication targets.”

In the current climate the public naturally wants to see value for money from all public spending – but that cannot be used an excuse to cut development education, a key tool in generating that political will amongst the public.

25 Responses to “Cuts to development education may increase public scepticism”

  1. House Of Twits

    RT @leftfootfwd Cuts to development education may increase public scepticism: http://bit.ly/9lClU4

  2. LCID

    RT @leftfootfwd: Cuts to development education may increase public scepticism: http://bit.ly/9lClU4

  3. Peter Ptashko

    RT @LabourCID: RT @leftfootfwd: Cuts to development education may increase public scepticism: http://bit.ly/9lClU4

  4. Shamik Das

    Gr8 article by @davidtaylor85 of @labourcid on @leftfootfwd Cuts to development education may increase public scepticism http://is.gd/ceGxo

  5. Tulip Siddiq

    RT @shamikdas: Gr8 article by @davidtaylor85 of @labourcid on @leftfootfwd Cuts to development education may increase public scepticism http://is.gd/ceGxo

  6. Tim Nicholls

    RT @DavidTaylor85 RT @leftfootfwd: Cuts to development education may increase public scepticism: http://bit.ly/9lClU4 <good article!

  7. steven III

    “a key tool in generating that political will amongst the public”

    you mean propaganda.

  8. Danny Carrington

    RT @leftfootfwd: Cuts to development education may increase public scepticism http://bit.ly/9lClU4

  9. David Taylor

    RT @leftfootfwd: Cuts to development education may increase public scepticism: http://bit.ly/9lClU4

  10. SadButMadLad

    Its a pity they had to ring fence the international aid budget. The Christian parable of taking the beam out of your own eye before helping a friend with the mote in their eye comes to mind.

  11. Matthew Sinclair

    This is an absolutely incredible post. DFID is spending money building support for its own budget – you don’t see a problem with that?

  12. Grassy Knollington

    The spirit of Gramsci is alive and well in the Labour movement, clearly.

  13. David Taylor

    @Matthew Sinclair – not when DfID’s budget results in 3 million a people being lifted out of absolute poverty every year – that can’t happen without public support.

  14. Mr. Sensible

    SadButMadLad, if we cannot help those who are literally starving oversees we are in a bad way.

    I don’t want my country looked on as being a selfish one; I want my country looked on as helping those in need.

  15. SadButMadLad

    @David Taylor
    Is the DfID money funding all 3 million or (more likely) is it helping along with money from loads of other countries?

    Also what is your definition of poverty. Poverty in the UK means not having something like a fridge or TV. In other countries, poverty might mean a lot less such as not having a basic roof over their heads. I suspect you are putting western definitions on other countries.

  16. Elaine Ong

    Cuts to development education may increase public scepticism … http://bit.ly/de1a6b

  17. Greg and Steve

    Cuts to development education may increase public scepticism … http://bit.ly/c4oWPH

  18. Derrick Love

    Cuts to development education may increase public scepticism …: Yesterday the first cuts at DfID were announced … http://bit.ly/c4oWPH

  19. SadButMadLad

    @Sensible
    We are in a bad way. Our debt is £2 TRILLION. The amount we pay just to service this debt is comparable with the whole defense budget.

    Yes I am hoping our country is selfish. Being selfish means that we can make our country better more quickly and get back to being able to give charity to other countries who need it.

  20. OJB

    Let’s take a look at some of those harsh Tory cuts:

    Those projects which have already been cancelled include a £146,000 grant to the Arcola Theatre Production Company in north London, a Brazilian-style dance group which uses percussion and martial arts.

    Well if that doesn’t scream front-line essential service, I don’t know what does.

  21. tomtiddler

    @OJB you are so right. we will know the public sector is facing a massacre when the dole queues are filled with ‘five a day enforcers’, ‘smoking cessation officers’, ‘LGBT outreach somethings’, ‘local council climate change officers’

  22. Owen Tudor

    MadButBad – lifting people out of absolute poverty means raising their income to above $1 a day. It means helping people who are really, really, really poor. The argument between politicians over DFID spending money on development education here isn’t about whether those people should be helped – anyone with half a brain knows that’s in their interest and ours, and is a moral imperative. The question is whether that objective is helped by development education. Only the selfish and the ignorant think development isn’t vitally important. I think development education in the UK helps promote accountability about overseas aid, and reduces the number of the ignorant.

  23. Oxford Kevin

    Education on International Development cut just as the public is expected to vote on how aid budget is spent. http://bit.ly/a5X87k

  24. Liam W

    The Queens speech committed the UK to spending 0.7% on ODA by 2013 – and about time too. While not all UK Aid helps the poor, the fact that DfID spent sensibly on development education means that the UK public are well informed and engaged in these issues. That can only help transparency, accountability, and heighten the possibility that the aid will end up being spent wisely. Cutting development education funding at a time when ODA funding is, rightly, increasing, is a mistake – it will lead to a democractic and information deficit. It begs the question – is the new UK government afraid of public knowledge, public engagement and public action in support of global poverty eradication? A recent IPSOS MORI poll (see DEA.org.uk)shows that 9 out of 10 of the UK public support spending on development education. The new government should read the poll, and reverse these cuts.

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