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Montevideo, May 26th 2024 - 15:24 UTC

 

 

Improving education in Britain’s Overseas Territories

Wednesday, March 27th 2024 - 11:06 UTC
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Falkland Islands Community School in Stanley was established in 1992 Falkland Islands Community School in Stanley was established in 1992

By Alicia Kearns

When we talk about education in the UK it’s easy to forget that around the world there are numerous British Overseas Territories (OT) that are also busy educating young people for the future.

Yet education is consistently raised as a priority by representatives and people from the OTs, and, as such, I wanted to make it a core focus of the Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee’s sub-committee on the UK government’s relationship with OTs.

Every OT has its own set of unique opportunities and challenges and the UK government and Parliament have a responsibility to help maximise opportunity, be it in The Falkland Islands, Monserrat, Gibraltar or any other OT.

I believe that education is vital and more can be done to support OT students, both at home and when studying in the UK.

In a 2012 White Paper on the OTs, the Foreign Office identified education - “raising standards of educational achievement and closing the achievement gap between rich and poor” - as a key priority.

Education has consistently been flagged up as a key area for further UK assistance in public consultations.

Education of Overseas Territories is a complex area of policy though.

The Department for Education is responsible for supporting and working with the OTs on primary and secondary education, while the Department for Business and Trade takes the lead on tertiary education and skills.

It’s been over a decade since the government called for education to be a priority in its White Paper. Yet what progress has been made in supporting education in the OTs, and what more can be done?

The Foreign Affairs Select Committee is responsible for scrutinizing government policy - particularly that of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office - and holding the government to account on its promises.

As chair of the committee, I am determined to improve the lives of British citizens across the globe, wherever they live.

The Overseas Territories Sub-Committee will allow Parliament to scrutinize in detail where the UK government is doing well and where it can do better, making concrete policy suggestions and, we hope, improving lives.

If we are to be able to make the best suggestions to the government, we need to hear from you - the students, educators and experts who know first-hand what works and what doesn’t. Any views and suggestions you have will shape our final recommendations, so please submit evidence.

What are your experiences, as an educator, of supporting OT students, and what could the government do to enhance the experience of OT students?

Specifically, we also want to hear how responsive the UK government is when concerns are raised by the OTs and OT students, and how well UK government departments collaborate with local authorities to support education.

We also want to determine to what extent the UK government is achieving its aim of prioritizing educational aid to OTs eligible for official development assistance.

Education is a vital building block of any society.

Every child and young person deserves the same educational opportunities, regardless of background.

Every level of the education system - from primary school to university - matters. It not only allows young people to prosper but also empowers them to become responsible, committed citizens and to play an active role in our shared future.

The Overseas Territories are an integral part of British life and history. We have commitments and responsibilities to them. The UK government has acknowledged this and has made supporting education a priority, but it is our job to scrutinize its efforts and ensure that policy matches rhetoric.

If you have experience in education in the British Overseas Territories or as a student from an OT studying in the UK, then please do consider submitting evidence to our sub-committee. The process for doing so can be found on the Foreign Affairs Select Committee website.

 

Ms Kearns is chair of the Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee, and Conservative MP for Rutland and Melton, and wants to hear from those with experience of education in the 14 British Overseas Territories, including Gibraltar and the Falkland Island

 

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