The UK armed forces visit thousands of schools each year. They offer school presentation teams, ‘careers advisors’, lessons plans, away days and more. While they claim that this is not recruiting, the Ministry of Defence itself states that the...
Teach Peace, a new resource from the Peace Education Network, is a set of eight assemblies, follow-up activities, resources, prayers and reflections on peace for primary schools.
From the UN peace day, 21 September, to the International Day for Children as Victims of War, 4 June, the school year is ﬁlled with opportunities to use the assemblies and activities in Teach Peace. This resource will help to ensure peace is a key theme in our children’s education and help you to celebrate peace and the peacemakers in your school.
Last summer the first Armed Forces Day was marked in the UK with over 200 nationwide public events including a military parade in Chatham, Kent attended by the Prime Minister. According to the official Armed Forces Day website the event “is an annual opportunity for the nation to show your support for the men and women who make up the armed forces community” who are “busy working around the world, promoting peace, delivering aid, tackling drug smugglers and providing security and fighting terrorism.”
Emma Sangster, from Forces Watch, on how the British military interacts with young people.
The Militarisation in Everyday Life in the UK conference was held in London in October 2013 and was organised by ForcesWatch. It brought together academics, writers, activists and campaigners who are researching, writing, campaigning on, or just concerned about the implications of the militarisation of everyday life in the UK.
Emma Sangster: Young people and the British military
Many areas of society in the UK have seen a growing involvement and/or visibility of the military and military approaches in recent years - from schools, to local communities, to ‘militainment’ (military-themed films, TV programmes, video games etc). This process of privileging and prioritising the military is often referred to as ‘militarisation’; Cynthia Enloe, one of the foremost thinkers on the subject, states that “To become militarised is to adopt militaristic values and priorities as one's own, to see military solutions as particularly effective, to see the world as a dangerous place best approached with militaristic attitudes.”
The minimum recruitment age for the British armed forces – 16 years – is one of the lowest in the world. The Ministry of Defence has traditionally justified recruiting from this age group by asserting that 16 years reflects the minimum statutory school leaving age.
However, as a result of successive governments’ policies to increase upper secondary education participation rates, over recent decades the number of young people leaving education and entering employment before the age of 18 has decreased significantly. Today, only a very small percentage of young people leave education at 16 (six per cent in 2009/2010). Apart from the Ministry of Defence, the only other institution which seeks to attract and retain this age group is the education system itself. It is with schools and colleges, not other employers, that the Ministry of Defence directly competes to recruit young people.
The incursion of the military into the British education system will mean that alternatives to war and peaceful ways of resolving conflict will be more difficult for young people to explore. In the long term we will all pay a heavy price, says Emma Sangster.
The UK government is on a drive to integrate 'military ethos and skills' into the structure of education, echoing developments in the US and founded on an ideology that says that everything military is good.
An independent report, published in 2007, highlighting the risks posed to young people through joining the military, how young people from disadvantaged communities are targeted, how information available to potential recruits is often misleading and how the terms of service are complicated, confusing and severely restricting. The research found that a large proportion join for negative reasons, including the lack of civilian career options.
Through articles, images, survey data and interviews, Sowing Seeds: The Militarisation of Youth and How to Counter It documents the seeds of war that are planted in the minds of young people in many different countries. However, it also explores the seeds of resistance to this militarisation that are being sown resiliently and creatively by numerous people. READ MORE