South Shields school pupils get Fairtrade lessons

Youngsters at St Oswald's RC Primary get a lesson in Fairtrade
Youngsters at St Oswald's RC Primary get a lesson in Fairtrade

Pupils at a South Tyneside school have gone bananas – for Fairtrade.

A visit by experts to St Oswald’s RC Primary, taught them how South American farmers of the fruit are paid for their produce.

“The children were fascinated to hear about banana farmers in South America”

Mary Lightfoot

The session at the Nash Avenue school, in South Shields, was delivered by Newcastle ethical investment organisation Shared Interest.

It operates as a link between UK social investors and fair trade organisations needing finance to improve their livelihoods.

Shared Interest uses investment from people living in the UK to lend to fair trade businesses across the globe.

St Oswald’s headteacher Mary Lightfoot said: “We invited Shared Interest into the school to hold a Fairtrade assembly. The children were fascinated to hear about banana farmers in South America.

“Our Year 4 and Year 5 children learnt about the supply chain of a banana, and how much workers earn at each level of the chain – from shipping company to shopkeepers.”

As part of the visit, children watched a film about Foncho Cantillo, a 46-year-old Colombian banana farmer.

He suffered the tragedy of seeing his farm destroyed by hurricanes earlier this year.

He is now back on his feet with the support of his fair trade co-operative.

St Oswald’s is now on its way to achieving Fairtrade status, part of the process being that it also holds an assembly on the topic.

Patricia Alexander, managing director of Shared Interest, said: “It is a joy to see pupils so engaged in learning about fair trade and how it helps farmers secure a sustainable livelihood.

“We work with several schools in the North East and produced a booklet last year to introduce pupils to some of the farmers and handcraft makers supported by Shared Interest throughout the world.”