Education: Word Of Mouth

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The Independent Culture
Children under fire

WHENEVER MATURE, well-educated adults start blowing each other up in so-called civilised parts of the world, who suffers most? The very old and the very young. Children have always been the innocent victims of wars, be they the senseless strife in Northern Ireland or the sickening "ethnic cleansing" of Eastern Europe. Now there's a new unit which will attempt to protect civilian children from armed conflict and carry on the good work of Graca Machel - yes, the new Mrs Nelson Mandela. She was a United Nations expert in this field before her marriage to the South African president, and two years ago compiled the UN report, The Impact of Armed Conflict on Children. The unit has been set up jointly by the Children's Legal Centre, a British charity, and the Human Rights Centre at the University of Essex and with Government funding. The university awarded Madame Machel an honorary doctorate for her work in the field of children's human rights, when she and President Mandela visited the campus a year ago and she has agreed to be the unit's patron. The unit will monitor all violations of legal standards and norms in relation to children, provide good-practice guidelines and disseminate information gathered to all interested parties. It will be led jointly by Carolyn Hamilton, director of the Children's Legal Centre, and Francoise Hampson, Professor of Law at Essex who has just been appointed as an expert on the UN sub-commission on the prevention of discrimination and the protection of minorities. I wish it luck, though I fear children will continue to suffer the sins of their fathers.

Churchill lives

WHEN SIR Winston Churchill died 33 years ago, many thousands of people gave generously to fund a memorial, which was not just another statue or bust, but more of a living tribute to the great man. The money collected helped set up a series of travelling fellowships for British citizens who have a burning desire to conduct a dream project abroad. Neither age nor sex is a bar. Nor is physical disability. And for once, academic study and attending courses are out. All that's required is the outline of a good project. There are 100 fellowships to be won. Last year's awards averaged pounds 5,750 a head and covered return air fares as well as day-to- day living and travel expenses. Closing date for applications, containing a simple outline of the project (detailed plans must be submitted once you have been shortlisted) is 23 October. Successful fellows will be announced in February 1999. For application forms and other info: The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, 15 Queen's Gate Terrace, London SW7 5PR (Tel: 0171-584 9315; Fax: 0171-581 0410; E-ml:office@wcmt.org.uk). And good luck.

Raw burger sounds

CONGREVE DEFINITELY had a point when he said that "music has charms to soothe a savage breast", so when a pupil not known for keeping cool at school told drama teacher Howard Raw that his behaviour would improve if he could listen to some music, Raw tried an experiment. Instead of switching on Radio One, he decided to let some of the lads, all aged 15, run their own radio station during the lunch breaks. Thus was Radio CPHS - Colne Primet High School in Lancashire - born.

"We had some old speakers, decks and microphones - all a bit dated, but it was a start," Raw told The Teacher, journal of the National Union of Teachers. Now every lunchtime reverberates to the sound of music, but when a female pupil, Jessica Morgan, 15, took her turn at running the prog, she introduced The Love Nest, "a sort of lonely hearts thing". Such has been the station's success that the PTA has bought some better equipment. And students are so busy enjoying music with their burgers, there's no time for playground skirmishes.

York makes amends

ONE HORRIFYING episode has left an 800-year-old bitter taste in the mouths of many York academics and clerics. I refer to the vile and gory massacre of the city's large Jewish community in 1190. Ever since, there has never been any significant Jewish community in this beautiful city.

In an attempt to help build a more substantial Jewish population, the University of York is to open a new campus centre specifically for Jewish students this month. With the help of the Hillel Foundation, the university has refurbished a house that will provide accommodation for four students and reception areas for groups of 30, plus a kosher kitchen.

Young and younger

In the recent special supplement I produced for The Independent on higher education in Scotland, I described Heriot-Watt as the youngest of Scottish universities. Of course it isn't. Its foundation dates back to 1821 when the Edinburgh School of Arts was opened, but it did not become a university until 1966.

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