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Military in schools "very deliberate strategy" says Quakers

Sun 28 Jun 2015
By Aaron James

Quakers in Britain has said the government is purposely increasing the military's involvement in schools to boost support for unpopular wars and defence spending.

It released a short film called The Unseen March in the run up to yesterday's Armed Forces Day.

The Unseen March claims the government's spent £45m on school-based military activities in the last four years. The film says this and other efforts are celebrating warfare, removing barriers to killing others, and encouraging students to obey orders without questioning them.

It also accuses the government of covertly using the army in schools to make students and other people's opinions towards warfare and military spending more favourable.

Some support involving the military in education, because it instils good values such as discipline and hard work, encourages fitness and learning new skills, and can help people make friends.

Paul Parker, Recording Clerk for Quakers in Britain and a teacher for 16 years, told Premier: "It can't be escaped that the main reason that we have a military is to be able to be ready for war - war perhaps our greatest failing really as a human race.

"Quakers have been campaigning for peace for over 300 years, and really feel we should be looking at ways to promote peaceful solutions to conflicts rather than increasing militarisation in our society.

"There's a very deliberate strategy by the British government to increase military involvement with schools. There's been 45 million pounds spent in the last four years on military ethos projects, hundreds more cadet forces, we're even seeing armaments companies involved in the funding of academy chains.

"We're told in the Bible that it's wrong to kill. Ultimately military training is about obedience to orders and removing the tendency to question and removing the barriers to kill. I think we should be very alarmed by that.

"We want to see a big debate about this. We feel that we're almost sleepwalking into a more militarised education system. That can't be good for our society, it can't be good for our democracy, so we really want people engaging with this question, [and] watching our film The Unseen March."

A DfE spokesperson said: “Delivering the best schools and skills is essential when it comes to providing real social justice. As well as high academic standards, this means providing opportunities for all young people to develop the character and resilience they need to succeed in modern Britain.

“For pupils who may have faced challenges or difficulties in their personal life, initiatives run by former armed services personnel can offer a sense of greater aspiration and can help build the skills and confidence they need to go on to good jobs and successful futures.” 

You can watch The Unseen March here.

Listen to Premier's Aaron James speaking to Paul Parker here:

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