“We invest in a diverse portfolio of programmes aimed at inspiring the next generation of engineers, engaging with students to raise awareness of the broad range of Stem-related career opportunities on offer.”
BAE’s website said its schools campaign was in part being conducted to “improve our corporate reputation at both a local and national level”.
BAE Systems says it produces the learning materials to raise awareness among children about career opportunities in engineering. Primary schools in northwest England were among those to make use of the materials. The fairy tales, produced specifically for children in years five and six, feature videos of BAE employees and armed forces personnel reading favourites like Cinderella and Jack and the Beanstalk and posing engineering questions. The fairy stories are just the latest example of a marketing blitz on schools by military contractors and suppliers, who collectively spend millions of pounds a year promoting their brands in schools. The company is also providing schools with branded learning materials for children as young as five years old to do at home during coronavirus lockdowns. Thales runs branded activities for children, including a missile simulator. Raytheon, manufacturer of the Paveway IV missiles runs a national dome-building competition for children in UK schools every year. MDBA, another major supplier of missiles runs a “robot rumble” for children aged 11 and up in the town of Stevenage where its factory is based.
Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade said: “The idea of allowing arms dealers to target young children through schools and home education is bizarre, dystopian and wrong. They are not doing this because of any love for education. It is because they want to build their reputations with children and parents, and sanitise the appalling things that they do.
“The weapons that BAE produces have been used in conflict zones around the world. It has armed and supported some of the most abusive regimes in the world, enabling them to inflict terrible atrocities and abuses against their own populations and those in other countries. None of these awful realities will be included in their lessons plans or propaganda.
“Right now, BAE’s fighter jets are playing a central role in the Saudi-led bombing of Yemen. This has created the worst humanitarian crisis in the world and has seen the destruction of schools and deaths of thousands of school-age children. This is not a fairy tale, this is real life and these are the consequences of its arms sales.”