In the aftermath of the case of the boys from Edlington, who beat and tortured two other boys, a youngster, Ben (13) from Cheshire, wrote to the Daily Mail, suggesting that these youth offenders need to be taught self-respect, regard for others, respect for authority and a sense of responsibility for their actions.
He continued that he attends a school with good facilities and considers himself lucky. He wants to learn. However unruly behaviour by others can spoil the lessons and a significant minority of pupils do not take a proper interest and can contribute to indiscipline.
Ben then says that he has heard of African children who are clamouring for an education but have inadequate facilities. He asks what they would give for an opportunity to attend and benefit from facilities that he enjoys? So he suggests an educational exchange.
"Why not let the unruly pupils at schools like mine experience poor facilities in developing countries? They would become more appreciative and respectful. And why not open the vacant places created by the exchange to the children from poor countries, the ones intent on learning?"
In principal, I am with you, Ben. The unruly kids would find themselves without computers, mobile phones, game consoles, running warm water, safe drinking water from the tap and even electricity - it would be a severe culture shock. As for African children in UK schools, they may find themselves out of their depth, but I am sure they would jump at the chance to attend a well equipped school. But, how long would they be in the UK? They would be loathe to return to their tin hut schools with slates and chalks.
And why should an African country have to cope with Britain's feral children? If a child is capable of beating another child in the UK, he would still be capable in Africa, although he may find that retribution is swift and sure.
I would love to see British kids going to rural Kenya to "see how the other half lives", but I would prefer it to be an education, rather than a punishment. Dealing with a violent child who is on the defensive because he is out of his comfort zone could be disastrous.
However, showing a child that there is life beyond the TV, games console and cell phone, where they can learn that bacon does not come from sheep, and the chicken on the plate was running around the yard earlier in the day, the vegetables for dinner were grown in the back yard, would be an education indeed.
Ben, I agree with your Dad. The exchange could be a good idea, but it will never happen.