TEACHERS vowed yesterday to stop
military recruitment campaigns in schools that promote pro-war
The National Union of Teachers voted to back staff
who resist armed forces publicity drives and urged “education for peace”
to be embedded in the curriculum.
Delegates at the NUT’s annual conference in Manchester called for a
campaign to undermine efforts to enlist teenage recruits.
The union backed a motion committing the NUT to “support teachers and
schools in opposing Ministry of Defence recruitment activities that are
based upon misleading propaganda.”
Paul McGarr, a delegate from east London, said: “Personally, I find it
difficult to imagine any recruitment material that is not misleading.
“We would have material from the MoD saying ‘Join the Army and we will
send you to carry out the imperialist occupation of other people’s
Join the Army and we will send you to bomb, shoot and possibly torture
fellow human beings in other countries. Join the Army and be sent –
probably poorly equipped – into situations where people try and shoot
you and kill you because you are occupying their countries’.
“When I see the MoD putting out recruitment material saying that, then
maybe I won’t have a problem with using it in school.
“Until then, I think that all recruitment material is misleading and
should be opposed.”
He continued: “They want to recruit in our schools because they have got
a problem. Young people, who have been at the forefront of campaigning
against these illegal and immoral wars, are not signing up.”
The NUT will campaign for pupils to hear from
speakers “promoting alternative points of view” and to have “education
for peace embedded in the curriculum”. Stefan Simms, a delegate from
Ealing, west London, said young troops were being used as “cannon fodder
for the profits of oil companies.
“I would be personally gutted after years of putting time and
professional effort into the students I teach, helping their education
and preparing them for adult life, to find out that some of them have
said ‘I decided to join the Army’.”
The MoD hit back at the delegates’ vote, denying that it actively ran
recruitment campaigns in schools.
Brigadier Andrew Jackson, Commander of the Army Recruiting Group, said:
“The single-Service schools teams visit about 1,000 schools a year, only
at the invitation of the school.
“Their aim is to raise the general awareness of the armed forces in
society, not to recruit.
“We are proud of the work we do with schools and colleges to inform
young people about the tremendous work and careers on offer, which can
provide fantastic and unique opportunities to a wide range of people
from all sectors of society.”
An MoD spokesman said: “Our recruitment practices avoid ‘glamourising
war’ and ‘propaganda’.
“Anyone considering a career in the armed forces is presented with clear
information and all aspects of service life are discussed in detail,
following a sensitive recruitment process.
“A career in the armed forces provides amazing and unique opportunities.
Armed forces careers must compete against other potential employers.
“It is fair that they have the opportunity to recruit people when they
are legally able to leave school.
“The recruiting process is designed to protect the interests of the
applicants at every stage, regardless of age.”