The world outside of the classroom is a lively place.
Over the course of many years my 5th class in Clonburris National School, Clondalkin, has always been interested in bringing this outside world filled with human rights and themes, issues and debates such as fairtrade in the context of the developing world into our class. As a result of this the chance to take part in Irish Aid Our World Awards on an annual basis has become a regular calendar fixture for my class.
The Fairtrade ethos of quality, sustainability and fairness in the Fairtrade minimum price and premium to workers and farmers and particularly as it related to notions of solidarity and standards setting appealed to us as a group.
Once Fairtrade status was conferred on the school our class took a decision to investigate the possibility of having Fairtrade status conferred on Clondalkin.
- Collecting signatures to gauge interest (1,500 collected)
- Raising awareness of Fairtrade in the community
- Setting up a Clondalkin Fairtrade Town committee (with students involved in committee work)
- Writing to Ministers, T.Ds, councillors and local community groups
- Gaining media attention, at local and national level
- Organising Art competitions, bake-offs, raffles during Fairtrade Fortnight
Facebook @Clondalkin Fairtrade Town events, photos, stories, documenting campaign progress and more.
- School communities: Clonburris N.S, St Bernadette`s J.N.S, Colaiste Bhride
- Organisations: Fairtrade Ireland, Irish Aid, Tidy Towns Clondalkin, The Echo
- Individuals: Sgt. Stephen Lydon (Community garda), Stephen Coughlan (Clondalkin P.O.), Minister Frances Fitzgerald, Eoin O Broin, T.D., Councillors Francis Timmons, Kenneth Egan, Breda Bonner, and the parents of Clonburris N.S and the wider community of Clondalkin, Liffey Sound, Global Village (Dil Wickramasinghe), W.D.A.R (Frank Phelan)
The campaign to have Fairtrade status conferred on Clondalkin began in February 2013. The process, once initiated, took 12 months. Fairtrade Town status was conferred in 2014
As an active Fairtrade Town we raise awareness of Fairtrade, encourage businesses and schools in the town to promote/use Fairtrade products, speak to local primary and secondary schools
- Lots of resources on Oxfam.org.uk/Fairtrade suitable for all age groups
- ubuntu.ie has games to explain inequality in the world. The Biscuit game is a particularly effective one.
- Fairtrade Ireland are great for information posters, flyers, stickers etc.
- They have a resource pack aimed particularly at secondary level but it can be modified for primary level too.
- Fairtrade U.K have a primary and post-primary pack in their schools website
Case study: the campaign to get Fairtrade status for Clondalkin
“People will not listen to us because we are young”
Our campaign to get Fairtrade status conferred on Clondalkin involved a range of activities. This included:
- A letter writing campaign with clear achievable results aimed at businesses and politicians involved in our local community
- Active student involvement
- Community involvement (inside the school and outside of the school)
- Petition/survey people in area/school to gauge interest
- Get local councillor/minister/TD on board
- Inform Fairtrade Ireland of your plan/campaign
- Liaise with other Fairtrade schools/towns
- Use social media
- Inform local press
- Ask local banks/businesses to sponsor you (corporate social responsibility)
- Get involved in advocacy e.g looking to get 100% Fairtrade bananas in local supermarkets
Involving students in the design, delivery and public engagement work of the project, including:
- Students feeling empowered
- Students acting as peer educators
- Students educating parents and family members
- Students developing confidence in engaging people
- Students developing skills and confidence in speaking on radio and to reporters
One student involved in the campaign went on to say, “Even though we are young, we can change the world”.
The learning curve
Successes and challenges of the campaign:
- Clondalkin became the 51st Fairtrade Town in 2014
- Children from primary schools continue to sit on Fairtrade Town Committee
- Children represent us at annual Fairtrade Towns and Supporters Conferences
- Getting people interested and maintaining their interest
- Staying motivated can be challenging, beyond the ‘fortnight’ drive of Fairtrade Fortnight
One of the great aspects of Fairtrade Fortnight is meeting with farmers from Fairtrade co-operatives and listening to their stories, the impact and “the power of you” can really be understood. It is very rewarding to welcome them into our communities.
There are many ways to tally success by measuring the impact of the campaign. For us, this included:
- Clondalkin is now a Fairtrade town
- Enthusiasm is contagious: more schools are going to become Fairtrade Schools in 2017
- Campaigns are ongoing to continue persuading local stores to stock more Fairtrade Bananas
- Supporting peers and sharing learning: invitations and requests to engage with other potential Fairtrade towns and liaison with others gets impact beyond Clondalkin
Activities and public engagement
The campaign continues as the Clondalkin Fairtrade Town Committee petitions to seek installation of permanent signage to be on public display recognising the Fairtrade Town status.
Newspaper articles and media reports:
Clondalkin receives Fairtrade status (March 20th, 2014) The Echo
— paula galvin (@scorpionovasix) October 16, 2014
Amnesty International ‘Wire’ article on human rights education and the Clondalkin campaign, ‘We did not think people would listen to us’:
Interview with Paula Galvin: Global view 100 years from 1916: Seeing ourselves as global citizens first, p.21 (issue 53, Spring Issue, 2016) Changing Ireland