Millions of pounds of foreign aid had been spent on teaching children in British schools about global problems
- Scheme is designed to ‘invest in a new generation of Global Britain ambassadors’
- But it is controversial with those who want aid budget for humanitarian disasters
- Tory MP Philip Davies said that the lessons were little more than ‘propaganda’
Millions of pounds of the aid budget is spent teaching children in hundreds of British schools about global problems, it emerged last night.
The Department for International Development has ploughed £21million into a project to link up children in Britain with those in developing countries to discuss issues such as hunger and climate change.
The scheme is designed to ‘invest in a new generation of Global Britain ambassadors who are proud of the work the UK is doing to tackle global poverty’, the ministry’s annual report declared.
The Department for International Development has ploughed £21million into a project to link up children in Britain with those in developing countries to discuss issues such as hunger and climate change. Pictured: A Dfid handout for pupils and teachers
But the spending will be hugely controversial among those who believe the aid budget should be tackling humanitarian disasters abroad, not funding lessons in British schools.
One Tory MP said the lessons were little more than ‘propaganda’. The information was contained in Dfid’s annual report, which also revealed:
- An extra 450 staff were taken on by the department in 2018/19, pushing the wage bill up by 21 per cent in just one year to more than £200million;
- Officials took 5,743 domestic flights in the UK – up 22 per cent in a year;
- There was a large 8 per cent increase in the amount of aid cash lost through fraud to £1.1million last year.
Philip Davies, the Tory MP for Shipley in West Yorkshire, said: ‘It seems that Dfid have either lost sight of what they were set up to do or have so much money to spray around that they have to waste it in this way.
‘Spending money on school propaganda to justify their own existence is pretty outrageous even by Dfid’s wasteful standards.’
Dfid’s annual report reveals that it is spending money on ‘engaging UK citizens’ by helping the UK public ‘get involved in the worldwide fight against poverty by having a greater role and say in aid spending’.
Philip Davies (pictured), the Tory MP for Shipley in West Yorkshire, said: ‘It seems that Dfid have either lost sight of what they were set up to do or have so much money to spray around that they have to waste it in this way’
As part of this objective, the department and the British Council have launched a programme called Connecting Classrooms through Global Learning. It costs £38million over three years, with £21million coming from Dfid and the rest from the British Council.
The programme ‘provides opportunities for pupils in the UK and in developing countries to learn about, and take action on, global issues, while at the same time developing key transferable skills’, the annual report said.
Pupils in Britain work with those in developing countries to share their experiences of tackling global challenges such as hunger, providing clean water and affordable clean energy.
The children work on joint projects via the internet. The money pays for the funding of 60,000 teachers and ‘school leaders’.
‘The programme focuses on children aged between seven and 14 and supports partnerships between primary and secondary schools in the four nations of the UK and developing countries,’ the Dfid annual report said.
‘We are investing in a new generation of Global Britain ambassadors who are proud of the work the UK is doing to tackle global poverty.
‘The programme will also train teachers and school leaders … on topics such as the Global Goals, citizenship, skills for life and work and inclusive teaching practice.’
The Dfid report also shows that over the past year, the total number employed by the ministry has increased from 3,182 to 3,631 – a rise of 449 or 14 per cent. Most work in the UK rather than abroad.
The report said: ‘Staffing numbers have increased to ensure that we … effectively deliver on our commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of gross national income on international development.’
It said that across the ‘departmental group’ the staff bill soared 21 per cent to £224.3million.
Dfid admitted it had missed its target to reduce the number of flights staff take between its London headquarters and its other base, Abercrombie House near Glasgow.
The aim is to take 2,527 flights by next year. But last year the number taken soared by more than 1,000 to 5,743. The increase of 22 per cent takes the number of domestic flights to 16 a day.
The report admitted: ‘Dfid has increased its number of staff substantially since 2009/10… this has increased demand for travel between our headquarters.’
Last night a spokesman for DfID said it was ridiculous to suggest that Connecting Classrooms was about spreading propaganda.
On the staffing bill, the spokesman said: ‘We are always driving value for money to ensure aid cannot be better spent.’