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Vince Cable backs value-based economy as UK school children get lessons on ethical capitalism

February 23 2012 - Children are to be urged to explore the ethics of capitalism, why the banks crashed in 2008 and the morality of taxation in a new teaching resource launched by Oasis UK, Christian Aid and London Connection.

‘Exploring Ethical Capitalism’, designed for GCSE students aged 15 and 16, will be rolled out in the academies run by Oasis UK and available free to every school in the country.

It invites teachers and learners to explore capitalism critically, asking questions that will help them determine what it is, how it works and how it influences and affects the world we live in.  Pointing to recent real-world examples such as the financial crash of 2008, the pack will help students examine the impacts on society of our economic system and ask who should take responsibility when it goes wrong.

At an ethical capitalism debate on Wednesday night in Oasis Church, Waterloo, Business Secretary Vince Cable was presented with a copy of the new pack.

He said: ‘This is a very old debate. It’s appropriate we’re in a church.  Go back 500 years to the reformation. Luther, Calvin, Zwingli and others were arguing as we do today about the compatibility of Christian values and commerce in its early stages; that was a large part of what the reformation was about.

He added: ‘I believe ethical capitalism isn’t an oxymoron. I think we have to have a capitalist system, that is the nature of the beast. It is right that we encourage business, we have to do that to get recovery and jobs but it can and should be done in an ethical way.’

Christian Aid’s Canon Geoff Daintree welcomed the opportunity for students to investigate the ethics of economic models.

He said: ‘Christians are called not to leave our values at the door. Ethical judgements affect all areas of life including our economic and business decisions.  Encouraging children to engage with the moral questions raised by our capitalist system can only be a good thing.  Jesus spoke often about issues of justice and poverty and it is important that poor people are not exploited by our pursuit for growth and prosperity.’

Former Chairman of Swiss bank UBS Europe and current Chairman of London Connection, Ken Costa, added: ‘When it comes to the ethics of how we do business, dialogue and discussion are two of the best ways of finding solutions.  By studying the content provided, students will have the chance to form their own views on how the world of tomorrow should trade both ethically and effectively.’

As well as facilitating discussion on issues that will have a profound impact on students’ future, the resource will contribute to the current national curriculum, in subjects such as Business Studies, Maths, Sociology and Religious Education.

Steve Chalke, Oasis founder and pastor of Oasis Church, said the Occupy London movement had brought capitalism under the microscope.  ‘Recent events, including the Occupy London movement have raised serious questions about the economic system we live in, but ultimately it will be for the next generation to determine the answers,’ he said.  ‘This educational resource will help students take a critical look at the ethical issues surrounding the debate and help them draw conclusions of their own.’

Subjects in which the new resource will contribute include:

· Business Studies – by actively engaging learners in the study of business and economics, allowing them to develop as effective and independent learners and as critical and reflective thinkers with enquiring minds

· Citizenship – by engaging with topical citizenship issues and contributing to debates on challenges facing society that involve a wide range of political, social and ethical ideas as well as both local and global problems

· English – by forming independent views and challenging what is heard or read on the grounds of reason, evidence or argument

· Information and Communications Technology – by developing their understanding of current and emerging technologies and their social and commercial impact

· Mathematics – by selecting and applying mathematical techniques and methods in every day and real world situations

· Religious Studies – by exploring religions and beliefs, reflecting on fundamental questions, engaging with them intellectually and responding personally

· Science – by developing their knowledge and understanding of the material, physical, and living worlds

· Sociology  - by recognising that their sociological knowledge, understanding and skills help them to develop an understanding of the interrelationships between individuals, groups, institutions and societies

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If you would like further information please contact Joe Ware on 0207 523 2418 or jware@christian-aid.org.

Notes to Editors:

1. London Connection is an organisation set up by The Diocese of London to liaise with the Occupy movement.

2. Running 14 Academies Oasis is one of the UK’s largest Academy providers, through its educational trust, Oasis Community Learning and aims to transform learning, lives and communities through the development of the Oasis Academies

3. Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in nearly 50 countries. We act where the need is greatest, regardless of religion, helping people build the lives they deserve.

4. Christian Aid has a vision, an end to global poverty, and we believe that vision can become a reality. Our report, Poverty Over, explains what we believe needs to be done – and can be done – to end poverty.  Details at http://www.christianaid.org.uk/Images/poverty-over-report.pdf

5. Christian Aid is a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of 100 churches and church-related organisations that work together inhumanitarian assistance and development.  Further details at http://www.actalliance.org

6. Follow Christian Aid's newswire on Twitter: http://twitter.com/caid_newswire

7. For more information about the work of Christian Aid visit www.christianaid.org.uk