Development education (DE) is a portmanteau for activities initiated and, to a large extent, sustained by the well-known international development agencies such as Oxfam, Christian Aid, Cafod and Actionaid. DE has gained increased funding in recent years from the Department for International Development (DFID) and some projects receive financial support from the European Commission Directorate-General for Development.
Clearly, DE concerns development issues, but in educational terms, it also conveys a methodology that is enquiry-based and participative. It is not necessarily a timetable slot but it occurs in many curriculum subject areas and part of the whole school management. The Development Education Association (DEA) sees DE as encompassing the following principles:
- enabling people to understand the links between their own lives and those of people through out the world;
- increasing understanding of the economic, social, political and environmental forces which shape our lives;
- developing the skills, attitudes and values which enable people to work together to bring about change and take control of their own lives;
- working towards achieving a more just and sustainable world in which power and resources are more equitably shared.
(The DEA works in the formal sector, youth services, adult education, and higher education. It has supports DE work in black and ethnic minority organisations.)
Much of this DE may now seen absorbed into education for citizenship, yet it is evident that citizenship with a global dimension will need to be understood and taught by teachers responsible for PSHE and other curriculum subjects.
In 1997 Oxfam Development Education Programme published 'A curriculum for global citizenship' giving a clear and authentic case for DE in the school curriculum. This influential document is worth re-visiting, and exploring further, on the Oxfam Cool Planet for Teachers website.
A very positive feature of DE is the range of activities and services offered by the local Development Education Centres (DECs). These can provide access to resources and opportunities to be involved in projects, often in collaboration with LEAs, universities and development agency personnel. For a complete list of DECs see the DEA website.
DE also provides an axis for other 'adjectival educations' such as peace education, human rights education, gender education and anti-racist education which have, to differing degrees, influenced education for citizenship.