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THE Ministry of Defence (MoD) has taught young children science subjects at a primary school in Plymouth, the Morning Star has found.
Anti-war activists have criticised the scheme as a “military assault on young people’s minds” and warned that it raised “ethical issues.”
Thirteen apprentices from Defence Equipment and Support, the MoD’s procurement agency, spent a week teaching kids at Riverside Primary School in Plymouth.
The school is located next to the Royal Navy dockyard at Devonport, the largest naval base in Western Europe.
Devonport is one of the most deprived places in the country, according to statistics from the Index of Multiple Deprivation.
The MoD team held a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) week at the school “in a bid to excite youngsters about the subjects.”
There were lessons on “making balloon rockets, designing and making winches, boat building and building bridges,” according to the MoD’s “Desider” magazine which was published yesterday.
The monthly magazine is aimed at weapons manufacturers and arms trade insiders. The revelation has caused concern among peace campaigners.
Symon Hill from the Peace Pledge Union (PPU) said: “The UK government is putting millions into military projects in schools just as other youth and education services are being cut. Militarism is a class issue.
“This is the latest example of militarism in education. Sadly, it is not the only one.”
He said the Royal Air Force and arms manufacturer BAE Systems “have been going into schools for some years under the guise of promoting STEM subjects.”
Mr Hill said his organisation was “hearing increasingly often from parents, young people and teachers who are alarmed about militarism in schools. Initiatives such as this are nothing less than a military assault on young people’s minds.”
Although STEM subjects are important, Mr Hill said that “these initiatives give children the impression that the use of science and technology for warfare is legitimate and uncontroversial.”
“Young people should be able to hear a range of views and perspectives and make up their own minds as they grow up,” he added.
Campaign group ForcesWatch said it was also concerned about the MoD’s involvement in schools such as Riverside.
“While these activities may have a short-term learning benefit, the real benefits are to long-term recruitment into armed forces careers and in promoting military activities more generally.”
Their coordinator, Emma Sangster, told the Star that “arms companies also run similar activities. Both they and the military can afford to offer these activities for free.
“Other organisations, including those seeking more sustainable and ethical approaches to current issues facing society, are not able to compete with this.
“As a result, we see companies like BAE Systems, which make almost all of their profit from the production of arms, teaming up with the Royal Navy and RAF to deliver STEM workshops to hundreds of schools each year.
“There are clear ethical issues that need to be considered here, including should military interests be allowed to drip feed their promotion to a captive audience of young people in primary and secondary schools, under the guise of curriculum activities.”
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