UK military recruitment policy 'counter' to UN Rights of the Child

By agency reporter
November 10, 2015

ForcesWatch, the organisation which scrutinises armed forces recruitment practices and proposes changes in policy aimed at better serving the interests of young people, is “deeply concerned” that the UK Government is pursuing policies which run counter to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child by increasing the promotion of the military within schools.

Publishing a new report: Peace Education and the Promotion of the Armed Forces in Schools – ForcesWatch asks that ministers implement recommendations made by the Committee on the Rights of the Child dating back to 2002 and 2008. (2) (3)

The new report highlights the absence of a structure programme of peace and human rights teaching, while there has been an increase in the promotion of military approaches and the armed forces in education. One significant recent development is the Department for Education’s 'Military ethos' programme which structurally integrates a military presence within parts of the education system.

A wide variety of military-related curriculum materials are also available to schools, including The British Armed Forces Learning Resource which was produced by the Ministry of Defence and the Prime Minister's Office and promoted by the Department for Education in 2014, and was much criticised for its low educational standard and promotional emphasis.

The report also examines how the UK Government is failing to implement other recommendations made by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child on the recruitment of under 18 year olds. The UK is the only country in the EU to recruit 16 year olds and one of only a few to recruit 17 year olds. Armed forces access to young people in schools is an important part of the recruitment process.

ForcesWatch also strongly recommends that the UK government:

  • - Incorporate peace education into the curriculum at both primary and secondary school level.
  • - Refrain (along with the armed forces) from recruitment-related activities and promoting curriculum materials which present a one-sided view of military activity within education.
  • - Ensure that the education system is not used to target children from low-income areas for military recruitment and that parents are consulted about military-related activities in their children's schools.
  • - Instigate a thorough inquiry into 'Military ethos' in schools policies.

ForcesWatch Co-ordinator Emma Sangster, said: “The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is clear when it comes to education – schools must teach human rights, peace and tolerance in order to promote non-violence as a life skill and to develop an awareness of the importance of these values for society.

“Not only does the UK Government fail to ensure that schools educate for peace or about peace, they actively promote military approaches, through their military ethos programmes, free military-related learning resources and the ever expanding presence of the armed forces in our schools.”

* Read the report Peace Education and the Promotion of the Armed Forces in Schools herehttp://www.forceswatch.net/resources/peace-education-and-promotion-armed-forces-uk-schools

* Read A critical response to 'The British Armed Forces: Learning Resource 2014', ForcesWatch 2015. http://www.forceswatch.net/content/armed-forces-learning-resource

* Forces Watch http://www.forceswatch.net/

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