The UK National Curriculum
I will conclude with some specific suggestions as to where in the current UK National Curriculum, these issues might be most obviously addressed. While my focus is the UK, the issues discussed are universally applicable.
The Global Gateway
The UK Government’s international strategy and the DfES Global Gateway (www.globalgateway.org) provides the opportunity to register schools and to link up with schools worldwide. Referring to its potentials, Olga Stanojlovic, director of communications for the British Council’s education and training group, which developed and maintains the ‘Global Gateway’, suggests that British schools might link up with schools in Africa ‘to learn more about sustainable development of different ideas of social justice and citizenship around the world’ (cited in the Education Guardian, 14 November, 2006, p. 1). This is a most worthwhile suggestion. However, if we are to be fully honest with the young people in our schools, we must link them up in addition with schools in Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia and elsewhere for a comprehensive analysis of ideas about social justice. We must initiate discussions about (world) socialist alternatives to imperialism and to neoliberal global capitalism. The British Venezuela Solidarity Campaign website (http://www.venezuelasolidarity. org.uk/) is a useful resource, as is Hands Off Venezuela (http://www. handsoffvenezuela.org/home/).
The Revised Citizenship Curriculum at KS3/4 According to the QAA:
The revised programme of study [at KS 3] recognises the importance of engaging pupils in thinking through, and responding to, real dilemmas, issues and problems facing individuals and communities. It encourages pupils to develop new ways of thinking and reflecting on a wide range of issues, ideas and concepts, including democracy and justice (QAA 2007a).
The QAA goes on to define ‘democracy and justice’ as involving ‘understanding the underpinning values and processes upon which our society is based, including freedom, fairness and equality before the law’ (my emphasis). However, it then states that, ‘[s]uch an understanding requires independent enquirers and effective participators who are able to make judgements about the extent to which decisions, action and opinions reflect these important values’ (QAA 2007b). Here there is space for comparing with British capitalist ‘democracy’ with socialist democracy.
At KS4, Citizenship Education, according to the QAA, should help ‘young people to develop their critical skills and to consider a wide range of political, social, ethical and moral problems and explore opinions other than their own’ (my emphasis) (QAA 2007c). This also more than lends itself to a consideration of the socialist alternative.