North and South

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Aim: To look at the basic idea of aid and relate it to your own experience.
You will need: Paper, crayons/coloured pencils, a map or globe (optional), a dictionary (optional).
Duration: 30 minutes

Start a discussion about aid, using the following questions as prompts:

  • What does the word 'aid' mean? Explain that it is a word meaning 'to help'. You could look it up in a dictionary. You can also use other terms such as 'first aid' to help with understanding of the word.
  • Can you think of a time when you needed help for something? What did you need help for? How did you feel needing that help? (encourage discussion around good and bad feelings).
  • What kind of 'aid' is available to people in your country? To people who are unemployed, ill, cannot pay rent, want to study, have children, are getting old...? At different times in our lives and for people in different situations, 'aid' or 'assistance' is needed.
  • Some countries also need help like this. 'Aid' can be money given to poorer countries by rich countries. This is sometimes called 'Official Development Assistance'.

Ask: Why do you think rich countries give money to poorer countries?

After some brief responses, introduce the fact that rich countries also 'take' from poorer countries. Explain some examples:

  • Through history (use 'colonialism' if this will help), where rich countries take the resources of poor countries while controlling them.
  • Trade - where poor countries are made to trade in a way that keeps them poorer, selling their goods for a very low price.
  • 'Tied' aid - where a country gives, say 100 million but then 70 million of that has to be spent on things that are sold by the donor country, often including weapons.
  • Repaying debts - rich countries make money from loans to poor countries by charging interest on repayments. (The concept of interest can be easily explained - if you want to borrow ten pounds because you need it now, I might ask you to pay me £13 next month, so that I can 'make' 3 pounds. That is my payment for lending you the money)

Ask if this information surprises the group. Did they realise that rich countries also gained things from poorer countries? Do they think this is fair?

Explain that countries that are richer tend to be on the top half of the globe (the North) and that poorer countries are often in the South. Ask the children to draw a picture to represent the differences between rich and poor. One way is to use a large piece of paper, the top representing a rich country and the bottom representing a poor country. Then draw arrows from North to South, one up and one down. On the arrow 'down' you can put 'aid' and on the arrow 'up' where the South is giving to the North you can include 'tied' aid (eg money for products and services from the country giving aid), debt repayments, low prices for sales of goods to the rich country. Draw pictures to illustrate these things.