Educating for a Just and Sustainable World 

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Trump has dropped any pretence of the US as an ‘honest broker’ in the Middle-East

The Trump Administration in the United States has rocked the Middle-East with two devastating policy announcements in recent months that have created fear and instability for the five million Palestinians living in the region. 

In December, President Trump announced a plan to move the United States Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, thereby reversing a longstanding US commitment to have the status of the contested Holy City agreed as part of a negotiated Middle-East settlement. 

Western Complicity is Fuelling Yemen’s Humanitarian Crisis

On 26 December, a crowded market in the Al Hayma district in Yemen was hit by airstrikes from a Saudi-led coalition that left 54 civilians dead, including eight children with 32 others injured.  It was the latest bloody episode in a conflict that has been raging for a thousand days and claimed 10,000 victims with 20 million more (from a population of 28m) in ‘dire need of assistance’.  The United Nations Humanitarian Co-ordinator for Yemen, Jamie McGoldrick, has described the conflict as ‘absurd’ and ‘futile’, characterised by ‘the destruction of the country and the incommensurate suffering of its people’. 

The Saudi Coalition airstrikes began in March 2015 in response to Houthi rebels’ seizing control of much of Yemen in late 2014.  There was widespread disillusionment in Yemen with Saudi-backed president, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, whose transitional administration was dogged by corruption, unemployment and food insecurity. The Houthi uprising forced Mr Hadi to flee abroad in March 2015 which signalled the start of Saudi airstrikes.  On the larger canvass of Middle-East relations and current tensions, the Sunni Saudis accuse the Houthis of being proxies for Shia Iran, their main regional rival.

No Is Not Enough: Defeating the New Shock Politics - Review by Stephen McCloskey

Naomi Klein has served the development sector well with sharp insights and ground-breaking analysis that has helped us better understand how today’s increasingly de-regulated, corporate-driven global economy is ploughing the world toward record levels of social and economic inequality.  Earlier this year, Oxfam reported that eight billionaires own as much wealth as the bottom half of humanity (2017) and, last year, Credit Suisse estimated that the ‘the wealthiest top 10 percent own 89 percent of all global assets’ (2016).  So, we are witnessing grotesque levels of wealth concentration in fewer hands which makes the election of a celebrity billionaire vulgarian as president of the United States look less like an aberration and more like an inevitability.  Indeed, one of the strongest assets of this book is its clear-eyed analysis of how Trump came to be elected and Klein spares no criticism of the soft and hard left in the United States (US). 

The Poor Are Paying The Price

We keep hearing that if we let the free market do its thing, everybody would benefit. However, a closer look at India and its politics reveals that the 'partnership and commitment' promoted by the G20 are but symbolics. India's nature and the poorest of its people are being exploited to the benefit of, who would have guessed, multinational corporations. We need to realize that the free market is, against all expectations, not fixing things for everybody.

Israel’s Ten Year Economic Siege of Gaza has Created a Humanitarian Crisis

The tenth anniversary of Israel’s siege of the Gaza Strip has been marked by a glut of new reports from human rights organisations alerting the world to a deepening humanitarian crisis in the territory.  Perhaps the starkest warning has come from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in suggesting that ‘a systemic collapse of an already battered infrastructure and economy is impending’.  What distinguishes this crisis from the disasters and emergencies that normally push civilian populations to the edge of catastrophe is that it is not the result of a hurricane, flood, tsunami, drought or famine but the calculated policy of the Israeli government.

Moving Beyond Charity: How the Centre for Global Education’s Schools’ Programme is Challenging Traditional Attitudes to Development

The Global Learning Programme

Global Learning is taking root in schools in Northern Ireland and reaching new levels of classroom practice thanks to a four-year formal sector initiative called the Global Learning Programme (GLP).  Funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and managed by the Centre for Global Education, the GLP has the ambitious target of increasing and improving delivery of global learning in 50 per cent of grant aided primary, secondary and special schools in Northern Ireland at Key Stages 2 and 3.  More specifically, it seeks to support schools to embed global learning as regular practice across curriculum subjects and through a whole school approach.  Central to this embedded practice is ensuring that teachers have the relevant knowledge, skills and resources to integrate global learning into their classroom teaching in all subject areas and through whole school collaboration. To support this embedded practice, the Centre has designed a Continuing Professional Development (CPD) programme for teachers which has become the centre piece of the Global Learning Programme and main driver of its success.

Brexit, Trump and Development Education

Stephen McCloskey argues that the social and economic inequalities that have fed the growing popular disconnect with mainstream politics manifested by Brexit and Trump, demand more from education.  He suggests a wider adoption of the radical, participative, empowering and action-oriented educational approach of Paulo Freire.

The political systems on both sides of the Atlantic have been subjected to seismic quakes and perpetual uncertainty following Britain’s decision to leave the European Union (EU) by referendum in June 2016 and the election of Donal Trump as president of the United States (US) in November.  Political commentators have been left scratching their heads in determining how these events came to pass and what Brexit plus Trump actually means for us all.  Brexit and Trump have been bracketed together in this debate because similar factors seem to have played a part in their outcomes.  They include the mutually professed political affinity of Donald Trump and Nigel Farage, the dominant voice in the leave campaign during the referendum.  Both are popular nationalists who made political capital from platforms that sought a reclamation of a perceived lost sovereignty and promotion of protectionism to restore lost economic lustre.  They positioned themselves as outsiders shaking up the failed political establishment and appealed to communities in deindustrialised regions like Tyneside and Pennsylvania that felt abandoned by the political elite.  The economist Thomas Piketty found evidence of this decline in the United States (US) with new research showing ‘that over the last 30 years the growth in the incomes of the bottom 50% has been zero, whereas incomes of the top 1% have grown 300%’.  And in the UK, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation found in 2014-15 that 13.5 million people or 21 percent of the total population were living in low-income households; a proportion that has barely changed since 2002-03.

Brexit demands more Development Education: The International Development Sector should take heed

The international development sector met the news of the UK referendum vote to leave the European Union (EU) with a collective groan.  There had been dire warnings before the vote on what Brexit would mean for the sector and Britain’s influence on multilateral aid and development policy decisions made by its European partners.  These arguments failed to gather any real traction with the public and NGOs suggested that this was largely due to regulatory guidance published by the Charity Commission in England and Wales concerning their participation in the referendum which amounted to the gagging of an important constituency in a crucial debate.  

But would the free and full participation of the international development sector and wider network of NGOs have made any real difference in the Brexit debate? A Charity Commission research report published earlier this year suggests that overall public confidence and trust in charities has fallen to 5.7 (from 6.7 in 2015) out of ten. 

Global Inequality has reached its worst level in a Century: It’s time for an economy for the 99%

A startling picture of global inequality has been presented by Oxfam in a new report which finds that just 62 billionaires control as much wealth as ‘the bottom half of humanity’; a staggering 3.6 billion people.  In a trend pointing to accelerating economic polarisation, the one percent (62 people) has increased its wealth by a massive 44 percent since 2010 while the collective wealth of the bottom 50 percent dropped by a near identical 41 percent or $1 trillion.  This is largely due to a stagnation of incomes among the bottom half of the world’s people who have received a paltry one percent of the total increase in global wealth since 2000.  According to Oxfam, these trends point to a world ‘with levels of inequality we may not have seen for over a century’ and cast serious doubt on the outcomes of the 15 year international effort to cut global poverty by half; the Millennium Development Goals.  With the United Nations’ agreement last September on another 15 year development process to 2030 comprising 17 Sustainable Development Goal s (SDGs) backed up by 169 targets, development practitioners everywhere should seriously reflect on the SDGs’ capacity to ‘end poverty in all its forms everywhere’. 

One Year on from ‘Operation Protective Edge’ Gaza is Teetering on the Brink of Economic Collapse

Time has stood still in Gaza over the past year.  Since the end of Israel’s third war on the territory in six years – dubbed Operation ‘Protective Edge’ – the people of Gaza have seen precious little of the $3.5bn pledged in aid to rebuild Gaza’s civilian and commercial infrastructure.  Chris Gunness of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) said in April that eight months after the conflict ended ‘not a single home has been rebuilt’ (Global Research, 25 August 2015).  A total of 12,400 housing units were destroyed in the conflict and more than 100,000 people internally displaced.