Necessity Still Breeds Ingenuity - Archive of SQUALL MAGAZINE 1992-2006

News and Other Busyness

British Aerospace Brainwashing

Squall 13, Summer 1996, pg. 7.

A PLAN by Britain’s largest arms manufacturer and exporter to establish its own education system has been described as “insidious” by peace campaigners.

British Aerospace, who turn over £4 billion a year making fighter aircraft and missiles, are planning a global network of universities in their key export markets - beginning in Malaysia, South Africa, Australia and the United Arab Emirates. A deal for £150 million with the University of Industry in Malaysia is already under discussion.

The move is designed to answer BAe’s need for a highly-skilled technological workforce in the next century. But the company do not deny that it will also provide an incentive for countries to buy military hardware from the company. “I don’t think there is anything wrong in making the connection between provision of education and commercial contracts,” said Professor Stephen Grigg, BAe’s director of education who came up with the idea.

The plan will also entail joint ventures with schools - beginning at primary school age - to identify promising pupils and steer them through to graduation. Initially, young children would be encouraged to take an interest in technology and then, as teenagers, they would take the decision to make technology their main area of study. Almost 500 schools already have some involvement in the nascent British Aerospace Schools Network.

Educationalists have expressed concern over the intellectual development of pupils and the independence of a BAe classroom.

But both the Labour and Conservative Parties have welcomed the idea. Tony Blair is reported to have said: ‘This is just the blueprint I’m looking for my University of Industry idea.”

But a spokesman for the Campaign Against Arms Trade called the idea “insidious”. “There is a growing tendency for arms companies to win deals by promoting social spending,” he told Squall. “This is insidious because many of these countries do need economic and social development. But the very companies that are providing it are most likely to lead to their economic ruin.”