Survey findings: Public discourse and Education

Public discourse

In many countries (twenty of the thirty-two), celebrities are used to promote the military. By contrast in Kenya, the military is almost secretive (although the Maroon Commandos, a band, are very popular). The military in half of the countries have a website aimed specifically at young people. Although Switzerland doesn't, its military does sponsor youth websites.

Approximately two-thirds use either Facebook or YouTube, and others have an 'unofficial' presence (content uploaded by current or ex-military personnel or others). Ten militaries produce a magazine targeted at young people. Potentially, this number will decrease as reliance on the internet increases. Similarly, eight countries have a military radio station; others have a television channel or dedicated programme. Twenty-two countries have memorial days for military personnel – Finland's is unusually named after a specific person. A majority – twenty-five of the thirty-two countries – heroise injured and dead military personnel, at least on a rhetorical level, and in the public discourse of twenty-three countries, military personnel in general are heroised. In some cases – like Finland and Kenya – this primarily applies to historical figures, whilst elsewhere it is a general trend. In eleven of countries surveyed, the idea that being in the military gives meaning to your life is prominent. In Austria, this is extended to mean that military service is seen as 'a necessity for learning social behaviour'. In Kenya, however, the military is perceived primarily as a source of employment, in a context where unemployment is high.

More rare in the survey results was the idea that the military's engagement in combat is only and always for 'defence' (including the defence of a society's values) - only in Turkish-administered Northern Cyprus, Turkey, Argentina and Paraguay. The military is regarded as apolitical in just six countries. In some countries where the military is seen as political, this is very explicit - for example in Mozambique the President is also commander-in-chief of Armed Forces, and his brother is Defence Minister, and in Turkish-administered Northern Cyprus where the military is directly involved in party politics. In Finland, the military is seen as representing the whole of the political spectrum, and this is actually used as an argument for conscription: a defence against coups. Again in all but six countries, there is the general belief that there are malevolent people or countries in the world from whom the public must be defended by military force.

In twenty-one of these countries, the enemy is a specific person or country. Some of these threats are common to several countries – such as 'Terrorists' and 'Al Queda' – whilst others are very specific to the country in question (for example Pakistan for India, Bolivia in Paraguay, Al Shabab - Somalian militant Islamists – in Kenya). In Macedonia, who or what the threat is depends on your ethnicity. In a different twenty-one countries there is a sense of fear among the general public about these threats. In twenty-two countries, there seems to have been a return of or increase in patriotic values over the last decade, though with some important intra-country regional variations, for example there has been this increase in the Basque Country, but not in the rest of the state of Spain.

Education

In eighteen of the countries surveyed there is an official collaboration between the military and the Ministry of Education. In eleven countries - all in Europe, the Middle East and North America - schools have to allow visits by military personnel. In nine countries schools are visited by military veterans. Armed forces (or other militaristic agencies) in the same number of countries – including six where there is no obligation to allow a military presence in schools - provide training for teachers. In Macedonia, Serbia, Republic of Ireland, Kenya, Mozambique, and Tunisia the military is not present in the education system. In fourteen countries the main purpose of military presence in the education system is to promote uncritical support of the military; in eleven it is recruitment. Less common reasons for their involvement are the commemoration of military history (Canada), promoting military schools (Greece) and providing cheap teachers (Israel).

In Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Russia, Sweden, UK, USA, and South Africa the military does overt recruitment in schools; in many other countries their recruitment activities are more subtle. In most cases where the armed forces are present in schools, they give lessons to the students (most notably History and Social Sciences). In the UK and in Israel the military also help individual pupils with their studies. In six countries they also provide lesson plans. In sixteen countries, the civil curriculum also includes textbooks and other resources with militaristic symbols, or which promote militarism in other ways - especially in History. In Russia, Ecuador and Israel there is compulsory pre-military training as part of the school curriculum, either at schools or military bases (in other countries this only occurs in military academies/colleges). In those countries where schools do not pass students' details onto the military systematically, there are other ways that this may occur. For example, in Switzerland, students have a day off school to attend an army information day.

The militarisation of education also exists outside of schools. In eight countries the armed forces have youth groups or movements; in Russia and Israel there are highly militarised non-military youth groups. In fifteen countries the military provides camps or summer camps for students, and in eight countries schools take students to these camps. General perceptions of whether the military's involvement in education is a positive thing, vary a lot. In Belgium, Finland, France, Canada, and India, it is not seen as a positive thing, but it is not seen as a negative thing either: most people just don't recognise the military as having much of a role. In the UK and Paraguay, many people appreciate the idea that the military can instil discipline among students.

Geographic terms: 

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