Trocaire and Development Education
Presentation to Joint Oireachtas Committee on Development Cooperation
Trocaire - the Catholic Agency for World Development - was founded by the Bishops of Ireland in 1973 in response to the poverty and injustice affecting the people of the Third World. In their founding statement the Bishops stated:
“The aim of Trocaire will be two-fold. Abroad it will give whatever help lies within its resources to the areas of greatest need among the developing countries. AT HOME, IT WILL TRY TO MAKE US ALL MORE AWARE OF THE NEEDS OF THESE COUNTRIES AND OF OUR DUTIES TOWARDS THEM. THESE DUTIES ARE NO LONGER A MATTER OF CHARITY BUT OF SIMPLE JUSTICE.”
Since its foundation Trocaire has allocated 20% of its total income to development education activities. This was done in response to the request of the international community, following the second World Food Congress, that non-governmental organisations (NGO’s) allocate 25% of their income to development education work. It was recognised that the political will to implement necessary changes in the structure of world economics and politics did not exist. Extensive educational programmes were required in order to sensitise public opinion and to create the climate in which governments would, at least, meet the agreed UN aid target of 0.7% of GNP.
Trocaire also recognised that development cooperation work in itself would never achieve justice and development. This would require a more fundamental change in attitudes and actions in the developed world - thus development education assumed a key role.
Trocaire not only administers its own information, campaigning, research and education programmes but also supports other groups involved in educational projects.
In 1985 Trocaire spent a total of £615,481 on education and the figure for the year ending February 1986 was £883,899.
Through its education programme in Ireland, Trocaire works to promote debate and discussion about world development and justice issues and understanding and solidarity between Irish people and the people of the Third World. Trocaire believes that only through an open, flexible and informed discussion can we as a nation come to play a more positive role in relation to world issues.
Trocaire’s development education programme is concerned with bringing about a global perspective based on justice into all aspects of Irish life.
For a further discussion of development education see the introductory sections of the enclosed Dialogue for Development Teachers’ Handbook.
Trocaire’s Own Programme
By mass communications we mean the approach Trocaire makes to the public at large through the media of press, radio, and television. Through these media, over the past 10 years, Trocaire has acted as an important source of information on Third World issues. As an example of the effect of this, Irish awareness of the situation in Central America owes much to Trocaire’s involvement in El Salvador. In addition to this general media approach, Trocaire publishes on a bi-monthly basis a general information bulletin entitled One World which now has a circulation of 22,000 per issue. Those who receive it include our donors, all clergy in Ireland, teachers, and other interested groups. The material included covers topics of concern as they arise, regular features and book reviews.
Over the past decade Trocaire has highlighted a number of particular issues and countries. As part of its general information services, specialised publications and information packs on regions and issues have been produced. The first of these, on the Sahel drought, was published as early as 1973. Others include a report on the abuse of human rights in Rhodesia and on repression in Argentina. More recently a bulletin was produced on the situation in Kampuchea and on Central America and South Africa. Seminars and meetings with various groups (community groups, trade unions, students, etc.) have been organised around these issues.
Trocaire has stated that one of the aims of its education policy is to mobilise public opinion as a means of creating the political will necessary if the government of our country is to meet its international commitments towards the Third World, both in terms of the level of aid it should be giving and the political positions it adopts. The Irish Bishops in their pastoral letter on development recognised this when they said:
“the duty of helping these nations does not fall only on individuals and organisations; it is a duty which falls on the richer nations themselves and on their governments…it is our Christian duty as individuals to share our wealth and to help our needy brothers. It is equally our Christian duty to demand that the political authorities representing us act always with justice and responsibility towards less fortunate countries and be prepared to use all means necessary for this end.”
Opinion formers and policy makers, therefore, make up a crucial sector in our society. For this reason Trocaire had tried to familiarize them with both the issues and the reality of the Third World situation, both through facilitating delegations to the Third World, such as the interparty Third World debt, UNCTAD VI, and on the Lome re-negotiations. A number of papers on individual countries have also been produced, such as the Philippines, Zimbabwe, Namibia, East-Timor, to mention but a few.
THE LENTEN CAMPAIGN, which involves almost every home in the country, is an important component of our development education programme. From the beginning, Trocaire has-insured that the materials used in the Campaign contain as much information and analysis as possible. The Lenten Campaign has never been seen as merely a fund-raising vehicle. Trocaire has always used the Lenten material to present the facts on world poverty, the causes of it, and the Christian responsibility in relation to them. Trocaire has always insured that fund-raising not be an end in itself and that the fund-raising methods are consistent with its educational approach.
By sectoral education is meant the approach which Trocaire makes to different sectors of the Irish public. While it is important to have a consistent and continuous education approach to the public at large, it is equally important to have a specific approach to those different sectors of society which play an important role in the formation of our national attitudes and policies to the Third World. This we have defined as our sectoral education programme.
Over the years Trocaire has developed links with the trade union sector. The objects of these links are two-fold: to secure an understanding on the part of Irish trades unionists of the situation of workers in the Third World and to assist in the establishment of solidarity connections between both groups of workers. Trocaire has established a close working relationship with the Third World Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and has supported them in the organisation of various conferences on Third World issues.
Meeting Point is a bulletin focussed directly on the trade union movement and it features news and information of direct relevance to this group. Trocaire feels that any major change in the position of the developed world towards the developing world will depend heavily on support and initiatives from the trade unions. Meeting Point is intended to help foster and inform such initiatives.
School Based Curriculum Work
Trocaire has given priority to this area for the past 5 years in response to growing demands from both teachers and pupils. It will remain a priority area given this demand and the proposed changes within the curriculum such as the introduction of social, political and environmental education.
Trocaire has established a number of important partnerships with organisations such as the Curriculum Units in the Department of Education, Trinity College, Dublin and Shannon Comprehensive.
Seminars, in-service and pre-service courses have been organised with these units, with subject associations, with Teachers’ Centres and with local teachers and student groups.
Current projects include:
•one for primary school teachers in association with the Development Unit of Mary Immaculate College, Limerick.
•a post-primary junior cycle project on food in the world involving a core group of 10 teachers, 3 curriculum specialists, a departmental inspector plus support staff. This project is aimed at the new junior cycle curriculum.
•a set of publications Dialogue for Development to supplement current textbooks weak on global issues.
•ongoing in-service and pre-service work plus general support services provision.
•a project on history and development education in partnership with Birmingham Development Education Centre, England.
Trocaire has recently initiated a joint adult education programme in association with Macra na Feirme. The project will involve the training and support of some 60 Macra personnel in development issues and then the initiation, with them, of a series of locally based events focussing on world justice and development.
Various seminars/programmes have been financed and supported in association with the National Federation of Youth Clubs, National Youth Council of Ireland and the Catholic Youth Council. Trocaire designed an exhibition Challenge 2000 for the NFYC roadshow for International Year of Youth and published, in association with Christian Aid, an Irish version of the activities handbook Its Not Fair.
Given the importance of this sector in Ireland’s population structure, it will remain an important priority area in the future.
For years now Trocaire has worked with various church groups, religious orders and parish groups in designing, supporting and producing materials for local projects. Parish programmes have been initiated and staffed; diocesan youth leadership training courses have been held and special church publications issued.
Within the religious education syllabus, Trocaire has worked with those producing, for example, the Christian Way texts which have included global justice and development themes. School programmes have been organised and staffed also.
Effective action on development and justice issues must be based on sound research and analysis. Trocaire has appreciated this for some years now and has established a research programme and a set of priority projects. These include:
•a project, recently published on the impact of the Common Agricultural Policy on LDC’s by Alan Matthews.
•the publication of a journal Development Review and a series of detailed North-South Issues briefing papers on themes such as Africa’s current crisis, the World Bank, protectionism etc.
•a newly started project on Ireland’s commercial relations with developing countries.
•a study of Free Trade Zones recently published by the Asian Partnership for Human Development.
•Documentation and Resource Centres
From the beginning a fully stocked and staffed Documentation Centre was established at Booterstown Avenue. From the outset it has been widely used by all sectors/groups as a ready reference and documentation centre. A wide range of journals, magazines and teaching aids are stocked as well as general and specialised books on development topics.
A Resource Centre is also located in Cathedral St. Dublin and staffed by, amongst others, an education officer. A wide variety of teaching and resource aids are stocked including audio-visual aids such as videos and slide kits. Exhibitions, seminars and discussion groups also take place at the Centre.
All of Trocaire’s education work is overseen by the Development Education Sub-Committee and is advised by specialists from its Research, Catechetics and Formal Education Advisory Groups.
Relations with other bodies
Since its foundation Trocaire has argued strongly in favour of development education and through Congood, the ACDC and in various seminars and meetings has argued for the involvement of a wide range of bodies and institutions and for the establishment of a representative National Council for Development Education. This call, from the NGO’s as a group, was first put forward at a seminar organised by the Advisory Council on Development Cooperation in 1982.
Through its work in information, lobbying and education Trocaire has developed close working relations with a number of organisations such as those listed above. One of the most important has been the Department of Foreign Affairs. Not only has the Department co-financed a number of projects but it also sits on various steering committees for those projects and often takes part in general seminars and meetings. While this has obviously been of considerable benefit to Trocaire it has also benefitted the Department especially at a time when very few organisations were involved in education work. It has given the Department a role in development education and has created a valuable and practical line of communication and discussion.
Recent events: a matter for concern
Given its own commitment to development education, Trocaire has also consistently lobbied for an increased government commitment to the area. It has welcomed in particular the support for development education funding by the ex-Minister Jim O’Keeffe and the expanded programme now under way with the support of Minister George Birmingham.
Late last year Trocaire was informed by the Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs that his Department, in association with HEDCO, was to establish a Development Education Support Centre (DESC) at St. Patrick’s College, Drumcondra. Trocaire welcomed this important initiative in development education and offered the Minister its full cooperation and support in the establishment of the Centre. The Minister also indicated that, prior to the setting up of the Centre, it would be appropriate to have consultations and discussions with organisations, like Trocaire, who had experience in development education matters.
Trocaire, through its Director Mr. Brian McKeown, also expressed a number of concerns about DESC, in particular the lack of consultation on its structure and functioning. These concerns were expressed to the Minister in the attached letter.
It is therefore a matter of some surpise and concern to Trocaire that to date, despite considerable progress on the setting up of DESC, there have been no meaningful consultations and there has been no attempt to involve experienced people from development education. This is all the more regrettable given the importance of this initiative and given the lack of experience or previous involvement in the area by those currently engaged in DESC. Trocaire feels that it is particularly important that the conclusions of recent successes and failures in relation to the setting up of Development Education Centres in both Ireland and other European countries be taken into account at this stage in order to secure the success of DESC.
There is now considerable confusion as to the role and structure of DESC; its relationship to its institutional partners - DFA and HEDCO; its relationship with the NGO community and the current status of relations between that community and DFA and HEDCO. The Department has recently abrogated a funding role to HEDCO which in turn has described its initiatives as being in association with DESC. These initiatives, in its own documents, are seen to involve all levels of the education system, informal education programmes and NGO activities. While we would recognise that HEDCO has a special competence in relation to third level institutions we cannot understand how such a broad range of activities such as those mentioned above can be effectively administered by an organisation with such a limited base and no previous experience in the area.
Trocaire is particularly anxious that the relationship developed directly with the Department of Foreign Affairs is not now mediated by a third party.
As regards DESC directly Trocaire believes that it is imperative that its terms of reference be clearly established now and that it not have its hands tied in advance by decisions taken by non-representative bodies. If DESC is to obtain the support of those currently so involved in development education and is to be able to play the role envisaged for it then there must be a structural link between NGO’s and DESC. Trocaire feels that this could best be achieved by establishing a board of management for DESC with involvement from representatives and qualified organisations such as Congood.
Trocaire will continue to be fully active in support of development education in the coming years. We welcome the increasing involvement of other bodies and institutions and we look forward to establishing an increasing range of partnerships in this area. We trust the government and all political parties will continue to support development education activities and we trust that this will continue to be done in direct consultation with those directly involved.