On 30th June this year’s Armed Forces Day (AFD) takes place. The website for the day (http://www.armedforcesday.org.uk/) states that its purpose is to raise awareness of what is done by members of the armed forces and to show our support. It also encourages people to hold picnics … “there is no better way to celebrate the Armed Forces than a get together with family and friends.” and to buy “AFD goodies” of various sorts in the theme of red, white and blue. And last but not least, there is material for schools, including ready-made assembly text that “draws pupils’ attention to the work of our Armed Forces and to the choices that the men and women in the Armed Forces have made: to join, serve their country, and do the right thing to protect the UK and help people in need across the world.”
This leaves many people very uncomfortable; it is also part of a trend to promote the military in society and to allow or invite the armed forces to have a role in education. We are encouraged to learn of the work of Forces Watch, a relatively new campaigning network, in researching developing educational materials in connection with this.
Forces Watch are also gathering information through two online surveys – for teachers and other staff, parents and students – which they hope will help them shape their future campaigning work. We would encourage Friends to feed into this via http://www.forceswatch.net/survey .
Northern Friends Peace Board (NFPB) and Quaker Peace & Social Witness (QPSW) would also like to know how Friends and Attenders have experienced and/ or responded to military (including arms companies) activity in schools and education, either as pupils, parents or teachers. We are not at this stage committing ourselves to a piece of new work on this concern, but we do want to become more aware of how this is affecting Friends. Please send any responses to this to Philip at the address below.
Philip Austin (NFPB) and Izzy Cartwright (QPSW)
Philip Austin: NFPB, Victoria Hall, Knowsley St, Bolton BL1 2AS firstname.lastname@example.org
Izzy is QPSW’s new Mediation and Peace Education Project Manager and Philip is Co-ordinator for Northern Friends Peace Board.