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ARMS companies are spending millions of pounds a year in an attempt to “normalise their appalling business” in the eyes of children at hundreds of schools, campaigners have warned.
Several of the world’s largest arms dealers sponsor school events and provide teaching materials promoting the military equipment sector, with one company even developing a missile simulator for children to “play with,” the Observer newspaper reported.
Staff from Europe’s largest arms company BAE Systems — whose fighter jets are currently being used in the Saudi-led bombardment of Yemen — visited 420 schools across Britain last year and the company even deployed CBeebies presenter Maddie Moate to promote the company at an event.
Raytheon, the fourth-largest arms firm in the world, runs an annual competition for pupils to build model drones, while the 10th-largest, Thales, uses cartoon mascots Raybot and Faybot to promote its education tools.
Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade said: “When these companies are promoting themselves to children, they are not talking about the deadly impact their weapons are having.
“Many of these companies have profited from war and fuelled atrocities around the world. Schools are vital to our society and should never be used as commercial vehicles for arms companies.
“It is time for arms companies to be kicked out of the classroom.”
Mr Smith added: “Arms companies aren’t targeting schools because they care about education. They are doing it because they want to improve their reputations and normalise their appalling business.”
A spokeswoman for BAE tried to justify its activities in schools by saying: “We invest in a diverse portfolio of programmes aimed at encouraging more young people to study stem [science, technology, engineering, maths] subjects, which is vital for the UK economy.”
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