THE National Union of Teachers Conference in Manchester yesterday voted overwhelmingly to oppose military recruitment activities in schools.
Motion 48 on War, accused the Ministry of Defence of using ‘sophisticated’ methods to lure youngsters, often in deprived areas, into the armed forces.
It stated: ‘Conference congratulates colleagues in the Educational Institute of Scotland for their decision in 2007 to oppose military recruitment in Scottish schools.’
It was overwhelmingly passed, with two amendments.
The original motion had read: ‘Conference agrees to actively oppose military recruitment activities in schools across England and Wales.’
An amendment moved by the Executive changed the wording to: ‘Conference agrees to support teachers and schools in opposing Ministry of Defence recruitment activities that are based on misleading propaganda’.
The amendment moved by the NUT Executive, sought to take the pressure off the leadership of the union, but most delegates were agreed that all MOD recruitment activities at schools are based on ‘misleading propaganda’.
In the debate Paul McGarr, a teacher from east London, said that only when recruiting materials said: ‘Join the Army and we will send you to carry out the imperialist occupation of other people’s countries,’ would he welcome them into his school.
‘Join the Army and we will send you to bomb, shoot and possibly torture fellow human beings in other countries,’ he continued.
‘Join the Army and we will send you probably poorly equipped into situations where people will try to shoot or kill you because you are occupying other people’s countries.
‘Join the Army, and if you survive and come home, possibly injured or mentally damaged, you and your family will be shabbily treated,’ he concluded.
Moving the motion, Catherine Brennan, from Croydon, south London, said: ‘They are too young to vote, too young to drink, too young to drive, but they are considered old enough to sign up for years in the armed forces without being fully aware of what they are signing themselves up for in their lives.’
Seconding the motion, Chris Kelly, from Lambeth, south London, said he had been offered free teaching materials, which he had only later discovered were from the MoD.
He said: ‘The Ministry of Defence has got a programme for distributing information to every secondary school.
‘They run programmes across the country and send army personnel to talk to young people in schools.
‘These are often in areas of high levels of unemployment.’
NUT General Secretary Steve Sinnott said he was concerned youngsters from poorer backgrounds were being targeted.
‘Youngsters from the most disadvantaged backgrounds have more limited opportunities in life than youngsters from better off backgrounds.’
The NUT will now convene a summit of teachers, educationalists and others to consider the issue of military recruitment in schools.
The resolution also called for ‘the immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq’, and pledged the NUT to ‘oppose military action or intervention in Iran’.
The motion ‘notes that this year marks the 60th anniversary of the banishment of 750,000 Palestinians from their homelands’.