US peace activist to speak in UK on challenging military activities in schools

08/07/2011ForcesWatch press release

Oskar Castro, a prominent peace activist from the U.S. and Director of the organisation Military Families Speak Out, will be speaking in London, Coventry and Edinburgh from 9 to 14 July.

Oskar Castro, a prominent peace activist from the U.S. and Director of the organisation Military Families Speak Out, will be speaking in London, Coventry and Edinburgh from 9 to 14 July.

Castro was previously Coordinator of the American Friends Service Committee’s Youth and Militarism Program, which seeks to reduce the influence of the military in schools, to provide young people with alternatives to military service and to empower them to become peacemakers within their communities. He has also worked with young people of color and within public education.

The speaking tour has been organised by ForcesWatch, a UK organisation that raises awareness, and campaigns on, issues of ethical concern and the armed forces. The events will launch the Military Out of Schools campaign.

The meetings will look at initiatives to tackle military involvement in public education in the U.S. and what can be learned for challenging the presence of the armed forces in U.K. schools and colleges.

Also speaking at the events will be Ben Griffin, ex SAS, who left the UK armed forces in 2005; David Gee, author of ‘Informed Choice: Armed forces recruitment practice in the UK’; and, School Students Against War have been active, and successful, in challenging the military in their schools and colleges.

ForcesWatch Coordinator, Emma Sangster, said:

“The UK armed forces visit thousands of schools each year. They offer school presentation teams, youth teams, ‘careers advisors’ and lessons plans. The Government is suggesting the expansion of cadet forces within state schools to encourage the military ‘spirit’ and that ex-soldiers mentor youngsters in schools.

“While there are claims that school involvement is not about recruiting young people, the Ministry of Defence has itself stated that visits to educational establishments are a ‘powerful tool for facilitating recruitment’.

“We want to raise the level of debate and question whether the armed forces should be given access to children within education? There are parents, teachers and children who are not happy with it and the influence it gives to militaristic approaches. We will be exploring how military activities in schools and colleges can be challenged and how a more balanced view of what life in the armed forces involves can be given to young people”.

Interviews:
Oskar Castro is available for press interviews.

Oskar Castro was the Coordinator of the American Friends Service Committee?s National Youth & Militarism Program for 8 years and then served as a Senior Program Analyst for 1 year before joining with Military Families Speak Out. He also served with INROADS/Philadelphia, Inc., an international non-profit career development organization working with youth of color. Prior to working with INROADS Oskar served in the realm of higher education as a community college recruiter and student adviser. 

Event details:
LONDON Saturday 9 July 2011, 7pm, Housmans Bookshop. 5 Caledonian Road, London N1 9DY

COVENTRY  Tuesday 12 July 2011, 7pm, Peace House, 311 Stoney Stanton Road, CV6 5DS

LONDON  Wednesday 13 July 2011, 7pm, Friends House, Euston Road, NW1 2BJ

EDINBURGH   Thursday 14 July 2011, 7pm, Quaker Meeting House, 7 Victoria Terrace, EH1 2JL