Image: Development Education For All Ages


Julius Nyerere once said: "Take every penny you have set aside for aid for Tanzania and spend it in the UK, explaining to people the facts and causes of poverty.” In this week’s blog, Mark Booker, development officer for SCIAF, echoes the importance of the Tanzanian peace activist’s words.

Development education is vital in raising awareness and increasing understanding of how global issues affect our everyday lives. We make no apologies at SCIAF for the time, effort and resources that go into educating not only our young people in schools but the wider Catholic community too.

I think it is imperative that as individuals, and as a community, we are informed about global issues such as poverty, injustice, gender equality, climate change, human rights and more. We can’t afford to continue living in a world where people are ignorant and narrow-minded. It’s important to understand that Development Education is not about telling people the right answer. Rather it is about promoting and facilitating critical thinking about some of these vital issues. It should challenge global perceptions and lead us to take action for a fairer world.

I count it a privilege and also a huge responsibility, in my role as a Development Education Officer at SCIAF, to be part of delivering a significant part of the Bishops’ mandate - that of educating the Catholic Community in areas of global justice and international development.

The beauty of development education and its promotion of justice is that it complements Catholic Social Teaching so well. I believe that development education can help us achieve, in part, what the “Lord requires” when in Micah 6:8 it says “To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God”. I feel that a personal faith in God only enhances the actions we may take when we’re made more globally aware through development education.

SCIAF’s support in this area takes different forms, from school workshops and lessons (sometimes led by our amazing volunteers) to the provision of resources that are linked to the Curriculum for Excellence and the Catholic RE curriculum, ‘This is our Faith’.

In many ways, young people and schools are far more knowledgeable than the rest of society about the world we live in and that’s because there is dedicated time given over to learning. One of the challenges for my colleague Elaine, and I, is to look at how we can increase the number of workshops in parishes and produce resources that parishes will see as a valuable part of their faith formation. Your feedback and partnership with this venture is greatly appreciated and I welcome your thoughts.

You may think that the Bible has nothing to say about development education as it might be considered a more modern concept, but, the Bible does talk about educating and training, and of wisdom’s worth being far more important than gold. In the book of Proverbs 22:6 it says, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when they are old they will not depart from it”.

While this verse is not specifically about development education, it is certainly my hope that the work we do in schools to empower young people, and to raise awareness of global issues in their lives, will be long-lasting and impact their actions forever.
Mark Booker, Senior Development Education Officer - SCIAF

Image: Food, Glorious Food – or is it?


Food, fellowship, human rights and care for creation, they are all connected.  This week in our blog Grace Buckley tells us why she will never look at food the same way again.

I have to say that I am not a foodie, and cooking is not one of my favourite things, but this year, food has been a central issue in many situations I have been involved in. 

There’s food as a necessity for life.  I don’t have to worry where my next meal is coming from, but for so many people in our country, never mind our world, this is a real concern.   

They may have to skip a meal to ensure their children eat; or make the choice between heating and eating; or they may have to eat unhealthily because this is cheaper.  The causes are many: benefit delays or sanctions, low wages or zero-hours contracts to name a few, and the problem is increasing in this, one of the richest countries in the world.

In addition to practical steps such as community meals and foodbanks, faith and civil society organisations in Scotland are now challenging this situation through, for example, the Food Justice Declaration of the Interfaith Food Justice Network and the Campaign for a Good Food Nation, which organised responses to the Scottish government’s consultation on its proposals for a Good Food Nation Bill.  The bottom line of these challenges is that food – adequate, nourishing and accessible – should be a human right enshrined in legislation.

Then there is food as a means of bringing people together.  Christians should recognise the importance of this through the examples of table fellowship in the Gospels. This was brought to life for me when I arranged for our parish to host the Glasgow Weekend Club in our hall and experienced first hand how preparing and sharing a meal brought a very diverse group of people together and made it easier for them to talk.  I experienced a similar coming together when I was invited to an Iftaar meal at Ramadan and learned so much in the context of a very welcoming community.

The same idea is behind the One Big Picnic in Glasgow’s George Square where groups from both faith and non-faith communities work together to offer free food to anyone coming to the event: homeless, refugees, tourists and ‘ordinary’ Glaswegians.  Bonds were created both in the preparation for the day and in the serving of the food.

Then there is the negative side of food: its production, processing and disposal, which we are only beginning to think about.  Modern methods of food production can involve land theft, land or water degradation, ill treatment of animals, environmental pollution and even human slavery.  Its processing can lead to carbon emissions and waste. 

At the recent Glasgow Food Summit, a session was devoted to the environmental impact of food and one shocking statistic emerged that in Scotland alone, food waste amounts to one million tonnes a year and contributes 22% of our carbon emissions.  We have to find a solution.

I for one can never look at food again in the same casual way.  As someone at that summit said, we have forgotten how to treat food (and its producers) with respect.

Image: Rationing for Climate Change


Drastic situations call for drastic remedies, says Marian Pallister, vice chair of Justice & Peace Scotland.  Weekly blog.

They tell me that sweetie rationing was still in force when I was a toddler. It had been part of the wartime strategy to use less and beat shipping blockades aimed at preventing importation of 20 million tons of food that had hitherto kept the UK going. Sugar was rationed until 1953.
In the course of the Second World War, coal and petrol were also rationed, and in a war situation, people accepted restrictions because they were imposed for the common good. Better to put on another sweater than run out of coal. Better to restrict movement than bring the country to its knees because the armed forces didn’t have enough vehicle fuel. In the 1940s, the vehicle fuel restrictions became so tough that only the emergency services, bus companies and farmers were able to get supplies – and the petrol was dyed so that anyone who wasn’t an authorised user could be prosecuted.
The Suez crisis in the 1950s saw petrol rationing re-introduced for a few months when it looked as if the UK wouldn’t get supplies through the Suez Canal.
In the early 1970s, I lived in Perthshire. I was working as a journalist in Glasgow and the 28 miles journey seemed worth the effort – the rewards of evenings and weekends in a rural setting far outweighed paying £1 for three gallons of petrol (no good at maths, but Google tells me that’s 13.6 litres). There were great restaurants on the doorstep – Kippen and Thornhill became destination musts for Glasgow and Stirling folk looking for good food experiences.
Then in 1973, there was another oil crisis. We were given petrol coupons against the possibility of rationing. The restrictions didn’t happen – but petrol prices rocketed to £1 a gallon. The knock on effect was that few could afford to play at The Good Life (the TV comedy about a hand-knitted couple growing their own) and we all sold up. The posh restaurants closed. The next year we had Ted Heath’s three-day week when electricity was limited and we walked to work on those days we were allowed to operate, often working in the gloom of camping lights.
Why am I writing this? Who cares almost four decades later?
Because rationing may well be our only answer to beat climate chaos. Drastic situations call for drastic remedies and we are in a drastic situation. We have a decade to sort it.
Our reckless use of fossil fuels – oil, petrol, coal, gas – not only means we’re running out of these commodities, but we’re poisoning the very atmosphere that keeps us alive.
Four years ago, Pope Francis gave us some guidelines in his Laudato Si document. We were asked to act as individuals and as a voice to make governments act. I hope our Scottish Bishops’ Conference will add its collective voice as it did against nuclear weapons 40 years ago. We’re not facing wartime blockades or a nuclear holocaust. We are fighting self-destruction  - and it’s time to print the ration books.

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