Growing up around the World aims to develop cultural understanding in schools

 Teachers will soon have an engaging way of developing cultural awareness and understanding in their pupils, thanks to a new resource from the London Grid for Learning entitled ‘Growing up around the World’. Available for the autumn term, the resource features a series of videos which follow the lives of 11 children across the globe from birth to aged 20, and has been created in partnership with tve – a not-for-profit which produces documentaries on global development and sustainable futures.

Over the course of more than 20 years tve has followed the lives of 11 children in 10 different countries in a series of ground-breaking films which have been broadcast worldwide. The educational films especially produced for the London Grid for Learning, provide a unique insight into what it means to grow up in different parts of the world; the challenges, hopes and dreams of these children and the impact of the world around them. It aims to give UK children an understanding of the realities of their childhoods compared to others, by picking out similarities and differences. Strikingly, many of the struggles and challenges the featured children encounter are universal, from the UK to South Africa to India.

Designed for use in citizenship, PSHE or geography lessons, the videos encourage Key Stage 2, 3 and potentially KS4 pupils to gain an introduction to human rights, build an understanding of the issues facing people around the world, specifically education, and develop critical thinking skills. The issues involved are often sensitive, including stories of poverty, unemployment and death and therefore provide schools with a safe space in which to tactfully address these complicated issues, which may be relevant to pupils.

Particularly useful in a multi-cultural context, London classrooms for example, the resources come with a comprehensive pack detailing how they can be used in lessons. The pack includes plans for both full lessons and starter activities, sample worksheets, a dictionary of key terms and tips for expanding on the material provided in the resource. This also includes ideas to help pupils get involved with human rights and take action about issues they are passionate about through for example, social media campaigns, blogging, organising debates, petitions and writing to decision makers.

One child featured is Panjy. Born in 1992 in Tamil Nadu in Southern India, she is the youngest of five children. Her family is very poor and work at a fireworks factory, and despite Panjy’s love of school and desire to be a doctor, she ends up working there too by age 19 as her family needed her to earn money. At 19 she is also married, and the gifts her family had to give to her husband’s family have bankrupted them. Panjy hopes to pay off these debts by working in the factory, although she often wishes she had had the opportunity to stay in school.

Another video features Rosemary from Rocinha, a favela, or slum, in the centre of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Her uncle comments on the social inequality in Brazil saying that there are “a few who are very rich and many more who have nothing.” When the video returns to Rosemary aged 10, she is attending school and learning computer skills at a community radio station. Life is dangerous in the slums, which are rife with violent drug gangs and lots of shooting, but this has improved by the time Rosemary is 19 as the drug lord has been arrested and there is peace. Rosemary has an 18-month-old son, and is pregnant again by her new partner, although this pregnancy ends in a miscarriage. She has left school as she was not working hard, but she wishes to be independent and do her best for her son.

The London Grid for Learning has collaborated with tve to create this resource. For over 30 years tve has been making films about the environment and development, broadcasting to millions of viewers worldwide and distributing films through DVD, internet and community screenings to hundreds of thousands more every year. Find out more at


The resource will be available on


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