By. Penelope Maclachlan
There’s many a slip between cup and lip summarises what can go wrong if richer countries try to help poorer ones through aid alone. Maladministration and corruption can occur anywhere along the supply line. If the recipient is torn apart by natural or manmade disasters – tsunamis or civil war, for example – the likelihood multiplies of thieves snatching for themselves what was meant for victims.
A more effective way of helping the world’s poorest people is to tax businesses operating in poor countries. Financial leaders must make clear the use that governments will make of revenue collected. Building a dictator’s seventh palace is misuse of tax. Appropriate use includes health, education and infrastructure. Every country should progress until it no longer needs foreign aid, but is self-sufficient. Bernard Shaw said that benevolent people loathe alms-giving; no one, individual or nation, should need charity.
The G8, comprising Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, USA and the UK, recognises this. Since 1 January 2013 the UK has been president of the G8. Earlier this year George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer, presented to the Group policies on tax evasion and ways to help poorer countries collect taxes due to them. Osborne said that the UK had helped Ethiopia increase tax collection, and he claimed the UK had also helped Kenya and Ghana. In February 2013, Group of 20 finance chiefs engaged in talks in Moscow with a pledge to stop multinational companies moving profits to low-tax countries.
Tax has acquired a bad name which it does not deserve. When citizens pay taxes they should feel confident that the revenue will go towards what they need for themselves and their families and friends, and the prosperity of their country. They should also understand that we must pay a fair price for imports such as chocolate and coffee. Without the growers in Africa, the UK would lack these commodities.
Aid does nothing towards preventing tax evasion, or recovering misappropriated funds. Tax reforms enshrined in international law are overdue. David Cameron at the World Economic Forum in Davos (The Guardian, 24 January 2013) took a swipe at Starbucks for paying £8.6m corporation tax in the UK over the past 14 years – a fraction of what it owed. Starbucks’ promise to pay £20m over two years is controversial. Paying tax is not a matter of promise but a legal obligation. Tax reforms may be the answer but as yet governments lack ways of enforcing them.
In 2010, the Education Secretary Michael Gove proposed to axe £162m in ring-fenced funding for a national network of School Sports Partnerships. In the wake of an outcry from athletes, pupils and opposition MPs Prime Minister David Cameron ordered a partial U-turn; however, the ring-fenced funding was still cut by 69 per cent and only guaranteed until 2013. So why is sports education the first to be cut?
As financial austerity measures begin to take their toll the balancing act of what to fund and what to cut becomes more challenging. UK school budgets are extremely tight and any required savings tend to come from deleting or reducing certain aspects of the curriculum. Due to the importance placed on more traditional subjects such as English, Maths, Science and History, subjects with less academic weight lose out on funds once budgets become tighter.
Sports education tends to fall in the latter category, and with these cuts heavily affecting schools it is feared that this will greatly impact on the amount of sport that is played by children both now and in the future. Adding to this concern is the drive towards selling off precious playing fields; to date 22 sport pitches across London have been approved for sale, which does not support the 2012 Olympic legacy.
Many studies highlight that the amount of hours children spend indoors on computer games is in keeping with their becoming less active. In addition high computer game usage does not allow children to envisage a realistic future career, which, as a result, could affect their school achievements. This is extremely unfortunate as sports education is critical to a child’s development. Sport provides young people with the opportunity to express themselves and provides important lessons in teamwork, discipline and motivation. It also allows young people to experience life to its fullest, encouraging self-belief, drive and enthusiasm. This far outweighs them spending too much time indoors watching video games, potentially exposing them to games of a violent nature and which do not teach children the proper meaning of life.
The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games swept Great Britain with sporting fever and shone a spotlight on the important role sport has to play. Team GB had 550 athletes competing in the Olympics and working with them were 450 accredited staff and 300 volunteers. This shows that sport not only creates sporting champions and brings people together around a common cause but truly harnesses a spirit and belief that through hard work and perseverance anything is possible. As public budgets for sports grow tighter it is critical that the UK looks to find new ways of working together across the public and private sectors to protect sports education for its children and secure the legacy for which the 2012 Olympics set the stage.
To find out more on what True Volunteer Foundation are doing to address this, please visit the Wimbledon Sporting Project page.
Burma, also known as Myanmar, has long been known for the beautiful Buddhist temples and for its political landscape. Being one of the least developed countries in Asia Burma has seen an adverse impact on its educational system. Many children in Burma did not have the option of attending school. On average, a Burmese adult only has 2.8 years’ worth of schooling behind them which is far below basic requirements in most countries across the globe. However, Burma is now beginning to see change at a swift pace. This has been aided by large investments from non-government organisations across the world, which have realized that a vision of a better Burma can only be guaranteed by giving every child access to education.
The international community is beginning to come together through forming key partnerships with local communities. By having greater access to schools Burmese children will have the resources to gain the skills they need to break out of the Cycle of Deprivation and achieve future success.
For the first time in many years there is now hope for Burmese children and a real opportunity for the international community to unite to support their future. But we must act now, and act together.
True Volunteer Foundation is proudly taking part in this new groundwork of creating new schools in Burma. If you would like to find out more on how True Volunteer Foundation is helping the Burmese children please click here to visit our campaign page.