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