Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has made a call for a “rebuilding” of education systems in the UK following the pandemic, to address the difficulties of connectivity and digital access in different parts of the country and give better opportunities to future generations. Speaking during a parliamentary debate on the UN International Day for Education, Mr Carmichael highlighted the benefits of supporting education internationally, and programmes like the Global Classroom Partnership participated in by Anderson High School in Shetland.
Mr Carmichael said:
“Like others, I reflect on what education has meant for my family. It pains me to see that with 90% of our children out of school as a result of school closures, we risk taking away opportunities from our own coming generations.
“The pandemic has illustrated better than most things the full consequences of the digital divide, with which we have lived for too long; we see those areas of the country that have access to connectivity and those that do not, and the families who have broadband and sufficient devices for everybody to get home schooling opportunities, and those who do not. So when we come to the end of the restrictions and to rebuilding our economy, we must also look at rebuilding our own education system.”
Reflecting on the impact of Government plans to renege on the 0.7% Gross National Income target for international development, a Liberal Democrat policy while in Government, Mr Carmichael said:
“Giving opportunities to young people in the developing world is not some act of altruism; it is actually good for our own children and communities. I look at the work that has been done by Anderson High School in Lerwick for decades now through the Global Classroom Partnership, and I see what that has added to young people in Shetland.
“The money—in hard cash terms—that we would be required to put in to meet the 0.7% GNI target would already be much reduced; not actually to meet that 0.7% target is criminal. The Government must think about this again, not just for the benefit of people in the developing world, but for the benefit of our own children and their educational opportunities.”