New Internationalist

How the Global Village works

Issue 090

Change & Choice: Britain in an Interdependent World

Compiled by Neil Taylor and Robin Richardson
£6.00 (Sterling only) + 93p postage Available from Centre for World Development Education
128 Buckingham Road, London SW IW 9SH,UK

In the small village of Dorala, Sri Lanka, no-one has ever travelled beyond the island. Few people have been as far as the beach resort only ten miles away, where thousands of Western tourists gather. Yet the villagers’ lives are profoundly affected by decisions made in the tourists’ homelands. Forty-nine per cent of the labour force in Dorala work as farmers, handloom weavers, or on tea and rubber estates. As world commodity prices rise and fall, and import controls on textiles are lifted or imposed, so the chances of earning a living wage in Dorala fluctuate. How the world has changed ‘from a collection of separate places into a single system of interacting parts’ is the theme of Change & Choice, a resource pack for teachers produced by the Centre for World Development Education. It’s substantial, both in content and quantity. Five case studies (like the one on Dorala) provide concrete examples of global interdependence. Each is accompanied by a large, informative poster for the classroom wall. Visually this is the most attractive and accessible part of the pack. The five discussion papers - environment, trade, investment, food and health, and aid - are more densely argued and pitched to the teacher or group leader. So too are the 18 fact sheets - visually flat, with a glut of statistics and a dearth of imaginative graphics. But the information contained in the factsheets and discussion papers is too good to miss. A teacher willing to do a little extra could present the material more excitingly. The pack suggests practical ways that students could explore their own environment to discover links with the larger world. Detailed source lists of further booklets, visual aids and games are also helpful. Although the pack was written for British 15-16 year olds, the analyses of world issues would hold for any Western nation. However, the editors admit the material is more advanced than ‘virtually all’ textbooks for pupils of that age. Certainly older students, including adults, will find it concise and stimulating. For younger pupils it will need to be filtered through an enthusiastic teacher.

Photo:CWDE
Imported textiles on sale mean job loses for handloom workers in Sri Lanka Photo:CWDE

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