Sunday, 13 February 2011

UK DfID rethinks Global School Partnerships

The 3 Scottish schools with UK DfID Global School Partnerships with Burmese migrant/refugee schools in Mae Sot, Thailand have learnt that UK DfID have frozen all DfID projects until the end of March 2011 to evaluate their worth. You can read about the REVIEW OF USING AID FUNDS IN THE UK TO PROMOTE AWARENESS OF GLOBAL POVERTY via this link;

Andrew Mitchell, MP, is UK Secretary of State for International Development and is leading this review. Andrew Mitchell visited the Thai Burma border in 2007 so some Campie children, parents and staff have written to explain the impact our Global School Partnership has had on both communities in Mae Sot and in Musselburgh. How sad it will be if Global Schools Partnerships are ended by the UK government.
You can email or write to Andrew Mitchell about the review of Global School Partnerships at
This is my letter.....

Dear Mr Mitchell

Mae Sot, Thailand, as you know, is the home of a vast number of Burmese people feeling poverty and fear in their homeland of Burma/Myanmar. I believe you have visited the Thai Burma border so are uniquely placed as a UK minister to understand the plight of the Burmese.
As headteacher of Campie Primary School, Musselburgh, East Lothian, Scotland, I have led 3 Lothian schools to link with Burmese migrant schools in Mae Sot through DfID Global Schools Partnerships scheme over the last 5 years.

Our Global School Partnership is unique in that we are establishing links with stateless people, living in Thailand illegally, working in learning centres with no support from the Thai government. This has made the establishment of these partnerships more challenging than normal GSPs.

However, the benefit and worth of these partnerships over 5 years to both their Scottish and Burmese communities has consistently outweighed the challenges.

Children, staff, parents in The 6 communities involved in our Scottish Burmese Global School Partnerships have

1. established friendships which has given support and status to the stateless Burmese people and has given the Scottish people an understanding of a people facing greater challenges than we have ever known.
2. grown to understand the similarities and differences of our very diverse communities

3. engaged in learning projects which have taught us all about the global education themes of peace/conflict, diversity, social justice, sustainability, interdependence from the 3 year olds in our nursery to the grandparents of the families we serve.

4. allowed a total of 16 teachers to spend time in each other's schools learning about different ways of teaching, which has improved teaching and learning in all 6 schools. Staff have developed our understanding of critical thinking and emotional literacy in both communities, using skills from both communities.

If you ask the children in both communities what this means to them. (And some of our children and parents are writing to you so you will hear their voice.) The Scottish children will tell you that they never knew what life was like for refugees and that they didn't realise how lucky they are. The Burmese children are so happy to know that somebody in the wider world recognises their dreadful situation, their invisibility.

All this has been made possible through the UK DfID Global Schools Partnership Scheme.
The scheme has now frozen while you evaluate all DfID projects. On behalf of the 6 school communities involved in our Scottish Burmese Global School Partnerships, I urge you to see the bilateral value of these partnerships and continue UK Government support for them. It's an initiative the UK government should be proud of.

Yours truly

Sheila Laing,
Campie Primary School


  1. Interestingly, this was posted on the Irrawaddy site today 14/2/11.

    UK to Increase Aid to Burma
    British aid to Burma is to be sharply increased in an effort to help the country's most beleaguered and to support the struggle for democracy. According to the British daily The Independent, a review carried out at the behest of Andrew Mitchell, the international development secretary, has concluded the £32 million currently spent in Burma should increase to a total of £185 million over the next four years. Officials say the money will target grass roots organizations and other partners working there and not to the military junta. For more details:
    Published Monday, Feb. 14, 2011

    Sheila Laing

  2. The UK government have granted one further year of funding to all projects approved by GSP team. So we are OK for one more year. After that, who knows? But that is great for this year ahead. :)