The Community in a Sustainable World WEA Report report highlights how the WEA West Midlands has contributed to public policy priorities by finding new ways of promoting global issues. The report describes three examples of project work that the WEA has undertaken with the intention to inform and inspire other educational providers to understand the importance of development education in tackling global issues.
Groups of African Caribbean elders in inner city Birmingham (known locally as the Techno Elders) have learnt about social, political and economic issues of developing countries. The project, supported by the Department for International Development (DfID), piloted a learning programme using art, literacy and ICT to raise awareness of development issues through the study of African and Afro-Caribbean Heritage. Learners completed a series of study visits (including Birmingham Central Library) to carry out background research and worked on self defined projects, for example the history of Fair Trade Foundation. A summary of one group of learners’ work has been uploaded to the www.connectinghistories.org.uk/exhibitions.asp from the link please click on community exhibitions and look for WEA learner journeys.
Another group developed a textile collage to highlight poverty issues in African countries and what action the UK Government is taking to help reduce poverty. The collage has been exhibited at community venues across Birmingham to raise awareness of development issues among a wider audience and was formally opened by Michael Foster Minister for International Development (Department for International Development; DFID).
The Department of International Development (DfID)’s Development Awareness Fund supported a three-year (2007-2010) partnership between WEA and Banner Theatre to raise awareness of development issues for adults studying on WEA trade union education and community learning programmes. The Out of Africa project combined live performance, music and song with archive film and contemporary video interviews with refugees and asylum seekers to highlight social, economic and political developments in African and other developing countries.
Performances were followed by workshop discussions facilitated by WEA tutors to identify how company’s, trade unions and individuals can help effect change, for example reducing poverty within developing countries by participating in international development campaigns and related initiatives.
This was a two year scheme to integrate development education within Skills for Life provision in Birmingham. The main aim of the project, funded by the Department for International Development, was to promote awareness of social, political and economic issues experienced by developing countries within Africa, the Caribbean and the Middle East. A series of new modules around the theme of global interdependence were developed and delivered at local schools and community centres. During tasters, learners took part in a ‘trading game’ where they were put into groups representing a country with specific resources in the world trading system, and required to ‘visit’ other countries to buy and sell resources as part of a numeracy task. Development issues relating to the game were then explored by the tutor and learners. The tasters were well received. The Northside Welcome Centre manager said ‘It definitely was the best workshop I have ever seen delivered. Your methods of getting the message across, and keeping everyone’s attention and interest were excellent’. One learner remarked that he ‘was discussing the workshop with my thirteen year old daughter, and said to her why we should start buying Fair Trade products, she replied, “dad, I’ve been trying to tell you this, at last you understand the importance!”. Following the taster sessions, many learners have enrolled onto a longer programme of study with the WEA.
Please note that these projects have now finished, please click on the following link to read about our recent Community Education Projects.