The General Secretary (GS) of the Celtic League has written to the Welsh government’s Education Minister to express his concerns about the creation of an army cadet unit at a school in South Wales.
In his letter, the GS points out that the Celtic League has campaigned against the military from deliberately targeting children in schools with the aim of recruiting them into the army, for decades. He urges the Minister to put a stop to this practice in general in Wales. In particular the letter asks the Minister to over-rule the decision to base the army cadet unit at Fitzalan High School in Cardiff, because of its potential to lead to the militarisation of the education system, which is not in the spirit of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The full text of the letter is below.
Dear Kirsty Williams
Fitzalan High School Army Cadet Unit
I am writing to you to express my concern about the creation of an army cadet unit at Fitzalan High School in Cardiff.
It is common knowledge that the military have traditionally been actively targeting school children in areas of high deprivation for decades, as part of their recruitment drive. The military have often been given unique access to children through being allowed to visit schools in a way that other organisations have not been permitted to do.
However, this new initiative of establishing army cadet units in schools, is underhand in the extreme, because it forces children to be in daily contact with the military as part of their education, whether they want it or not. To permit the Ministry of Defence to establish a presence for themselves in mainstream schools is to allow the militarisation of the education system and this is not acceptable.
The Celtic League has consistently condemned the practice of targeting school children with the aim of recruiting them into the military and we have campaigned on this issue for decades. A number of resolutions have been passed to this end at our annual general meetings. In 2007 for example following an outcry in Wales over the targeting by the MoD of children in schools in South Wales, the the Director of Information of the Celtic League said:
“It is not simply in Wales that questions should be asked about recruitment policy. The Army in particular targets Scotland, Mann and N. Ireland in its drive attract impressionable young people. The tragedy of the four (still not properly explained) deaths at Deepcut training centre also shows the Army pays scant regard to its ‘duty of care’ to these young people”
We would like the Welsh Government to stop the practice of military partnerships with schools, because it the main purpose of the military to target these impressionable young people with the aim of recruiting them into the military.
As the Committee on the Rights of the Child states, as part of the General Comment on ‘The Aims of Education’ 2001: “Children do not lose their human rights by virtue of passing through the school gates.” As I stated in a letter to First Minister Carwyn Jones, dated 20/09/15, about
‘Armed Forces School Recruitment’:
“It is clear that school children in [the] Celtic nations are being deliberately, unfairly and purposefully targeted for recruitment by the military, contrary to the spirit behind which the United Nations Convention (UNCRC) on the Rights of the Child is based and in contravention of a number of articles in the Convention.”
We hope that the Welsh Government review their position and stop the imposition of the military onto the education system in Wales with immediate effect.