The Daily Mail has today run a critical report and leader on the UK aid funded Connecting Classrooms programme which helps children in the UK and developing countries to learn from each other via the internet.
Connecting Classrooms is training 60,000 teachers and other school staff around the world to give millions of children a valuable education opportunity.
It allows them to discuss issues such as tackling climate change and global poverty.
The Department for International Development has frequently talked openly and positively about the programme, which is referenced in our annual report published last week.
The Daily Mail report quotes MP Phillip Davies saying the programme is “school propaganda”.
But in a statement given to the paper and carried partially in their piece, the Department For International Development (DFID) spokesperson strongly rebuts this.
The statement says: “Connecting Classrooms is a positive programme that allows millions of children and young people in developing countries to share their experiences of tackling global challenges with UK pupils, and for both to learn from each other.
“To suggest that this is about spreading propaganda is ridiculous.”
A leader in the paper argues that aid money should be used to pay for medicines, mosquito nets, clinics and water purifiers.
DFID does of course do all this.
As our annual report published last week makes clear UK aid reached 32.6 million people, including 10 million women and girls, with humanitarian assistance between April 2015 and March this year.
It also supported the immunisation of around 56.4 million children, saving 990,000 lives, between January 2015 and December 2017.
The leader refers to the Connecting Classrooms programme as Soviet-style propaganda, a claim which again DFID finds “ridiculous”.
DFID shared some background on the programme with The Daily Mail.
We explained how the department has contributed £21 million to it over three years, while the British Council, which co-funds it, has given £17 million.
Previous development education programmes in the UK have supported over 5,000 schools around the world to form long-term partnerships.