News story

UK ministers meet Belfast school children

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Children from Belfast primary schools today took the chance to show ministers their work with their counterparts in the developing world.

Children from 2 Belfast primary schools today took the chance to show two government ministers their work with their counterparts in the developing world.

The pupils from Holy Family Primary School and Hazlewood Primary School showed International Development Minister Alan Duncan and Northern Ireland Minister of State Hugo Swire projects they have been working on as part of a school linking programme with children in Uganda and Sri Lanka.

They then took the chance to quiz Alan Duncan on the UK Government’s commitment to get 9 million primary age children from the world’s poorest countries into school over the next five years.

Alan Duncan, Minister of State for International Development, said:

I was extremely impressed with the hard work and commitment shown by the children of Holy Family and Hazlewood to their projects. Their knowledge and enthusiasm really stood out when we were discussing their friendships with their peers in Uganda and Sri Lanka.

We enjoyed a lively debate about how the UK Government can help some of the 67 million primary age children not in education in the developing world.

They were encouraged to learn that over the next five years the UK Government will help 9 million of the poorest children in the world into primary school - 50 times the entire primary school population of Northern Ireland.

Hugo Swire, Minister of State for Northern Ireland, said:

This is an enormously important project and the support we are seeing from across the UK is tremendous. I am delighted to see first hand what children in Belfast are doing to help us change the lives of so many children who, without our help, would never have the chance of simply going to school.

The Global Schools Partnership scheme is funded by the UK Government and managed by the British Council and supports twinning arrangements between schools in the UK and schools in developing countries.

These partnerships support teachers to better teach young people about poverty in developing countries and motivate their commitment to a fairer, more sustainable world.

On top of the commitment to get 5 million children into primary school by 2015, UK aid will also help train more than 190,000 teachers and increase the UK Government’s focus on educating girls in conflict and fragile states.

Later in the morning both Ministers’ visited the Spires Centre in Belfast where they met Ms Wilma Hazlett, Fairtrade shop owner and Rev Uel Marrs, BSc BD Overseas Secretary for the Presbyterian Church in Ireland.

Notes to Editors

Holy Family and Hazlewood Primary Schools are linked with schools in Uganda and Sri Lanka through the Department for International Development (DFID)’s Global Schools Partnership Programmes (GSP), which is managed by the British Council. GSP aims to motivate young people’s commitment to a fairer, more sustainable world by promoting active partnerships between schools in the UK and schools in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean.

GSP also offers support and guidance to teachers and grants to schools to make the most out of a partnership, including for visits between partner schools, both as a learning tool for students and to develop and embed a global dimension within their curriculum. GSP aims to support 5,000 school partnerships by the end of March 2011.

A recent assessment of GSP, carried out by the National Foundation for Education Research (NFER), concluding that GSP “has made a significant positive impact on the learning and attitudes of girls and boys in primary and secondary schools throughout the UK.” The full report is available on the NFER website.

Further information on GSP can be found the DFID website.

Getting kids in to school is just one way UK aid is changing the lives of the world’s poorest children by giving them an education.

Over the next four years, British aidwill help 11 million of the world’s poorest and most disadvantaged children to go to school. Find out more at