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Sunday, February 29, 2004

Hunger strike

A 34 year old Welshman called Neil ap Jones has gone on hunger strike. He is hoping to secure a radical change to the National Curriculum to include more about Welsh history and heroes. The Wales on Sunday reports that so far his protest has fallen on deaf ears - 'he says no-one from the National Assembly, his local Council or social services has been in touch.' They most probably think it is a joke. Either that or they believe he has a death wish and that he is best treated by a mental health worker.

Political principles fall into two categories. There are those that you are prepared to die for, such as freedom from tyranny and there are those where you have to win the argument, or at least a majority of votes, to put into practice. Changes to the National Curriculum fall firmly into the last category. This is, after all, about effective education for our children. Any changes need to be consulted on, debated and discussed. They need to happen for educational reasons not political ones. They take time to work through and cannot be implemented overnight. Above all we need to secure balance. That means not ramming propaganda into the minds of our children but encouraging them to question and think for themselves. It means teaching them key skills so that they can find the information they need and letting them make their own mind up on important political and social issues. Mr. Ap Jones' hunger strike may make good journalistic copy but it does not make any sense.

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