||49 Practical Activities and Methods for Human
Rights Education > Money to spend
Money to spend
In the time of war, bread is better than
||Human security, Peace
and Violence, General human rights
|| Level 2
||This activity uses activity cards in small group discussions
to decide a family budget. There is an element of role-play.
The issues addressed include:
- The distinctions between "wants" and "needs"
- State expenditure and militarisation
- The opportunities that could come from the peace dividend
- Social and economic rights such as the right to health,
food and education
- The right to live in a healthy and clean environment
- The right to security of person
- To reflect on personal and family needs and how they
should be prioritised
- To develop democratic decision-making skills
- To promote responsibility and justice
- Copies of the "Item cards" (one set per group)
- Envelopes, one per group
- Tape or glue for sticking cards to wall charts (one
- Large sheets of paper (A3 size) or flipchart paper
to make wall charts (1 sheet per group)
- 1 copy of the Parent role card
- 1 copy of Box 3.
- Copy the items sheet. Cut it up to make the "item
cards" and put the cards in an envelope. You need
one set of cards per group.
- Copy the chart
on world military spending and its alternatives (in
chapter 5) onto a large sheet of paper or an overhead
transparency, or make one photocopy per participant
- Arrange the room so that people can work in small groups
- Prior to starting the activity, discretely choose one
participant to role- play a "special parent"
in one of the families. Tell them to keep their "special"
role secret from everyone else and give them the copy
of the "Parent role-play card". There should
be only 1 "special parent" in one family/group,
irrespective of the number of groups.
- Make copies or overhead transparencies of any of the
data boxes you may wish to use.
- Explain that people will be working in small groups, each
group representing a different family. The aim is for each family
to draw up a budget for their expenditure in the coming month.
- Divide the participants into small groups (preferably not
more than 5 participants per group). Each group should be composed
of a father, a mother and child(ren). Ask people to agree who
will play the different roles, and then to decide together on
a family name.
- Give one envelope containing item cards and one large sheet
of paper to each group,
- Explain that the items cards represent those items that are
to be discussed in relation to the next month's budget. Only
these items may be considered. The cost is written on each card
and cannot be altered.
- Their budget is 10 000 (ten thousand) so each family will
have to select what should be included, and what should be excluded
from the budget.
- Explain that the budget should preferably be agreed as the
result of democratic consultation and that they should stick
the item cards they have chosen onto the large sheet of paper
to make a wall-chart for display.
- Groups have 20 minutes to make their decisions and to prepare
- Allow 10 minutes for everyone to walk around and look at
the different budgets and to consider which family budget is
the most appropriate and which is the least appropriate.
- Come into plenary and begin the debriefing.
Debriefing and evaluation
Ask each group in turn for their general comments on the activity.
Then use the following questions as a guide for further discussion:
- How did the families decide the budget? Was it democratic?
- What criteria did they use to make the decisions?
- How did they balance their "needs" for food, shelter
and clothing with the need for security and with their "wants"
for leisure? What social and economic factors were important?
- How did people feel when an item, which they considered important,
was out-voted by the rest of the family and not included in
- Which budgets were the most appropriate and which the least
- Are there parallels between the family budgets and the budgets
of states worldwide? Can they be compared?
- Which lists most nearly reflect state budgets?
- Which lists should ideally reflect state budgets?
Now show the group the chart, "World military spending
and its alternatives".
- What do people think about the actual total state budget
in military equipment, armaments and other military-related
- Why do states worldwide spend so much on armaments?
- Has this spending been justified? Is the world a safer or
more peaceful place?
- What are the consequences of this kind of budget allocation
for people's enjoyment of their social and economic rights?
And for the environment?
- How can we change the situation? Has anyone heard of "military
conversion" or the "demilitarisation fund"? If
not, why do you think that there is so little information about
them in the news?
Tips for facilitators
The traditional family varies from country to country. Therefore,
allow participants to include grandparents or other relatives
in the families as appropriate.
The aim of having one "special parent" is twofold;
first to provoke discussion, especially in countries where there
are strong traditions of democracy and second to ensure that there
are a variety of budgets to compare and discuss. You should be
aware that the other "family members" in the role-playing
group might get upset and even angry at the parent's attitude.
They may also be confused because they do not know that it is
a role-play! You will have to be sensitive to the fact that "problems"
may arise within that group, which will require your intervention.
Try to ensure that the group continues with the activity without
discovering the role-played character! However, if you think the
role will create too many difficulties or will not work in your
situation, then omit it from the activity.
Feel free to adapt the list of items if it does not reflect
the reality of families in your locality, region or country. However,
be sure to include some "security" items and some very
luxurious items, so participants still have to make a choice as
to what are to be considered as needs and what are not.
An alternative to using cards is to simply use the sheet as
a list and ask the families/groups to tick their choices. In this
case, ask the families/groups to write down their budgets on a
large sheet of paper that can be put up for everyone to see.
Suggestions for follow-up
The group could do some research into positive changes, for
instance, into the proposal for a demilitarisation fund or into
the situation in countries that do not have any army or military
weapons (such as Costa Rica).
If you want to explore some of the consequences of war especially
on refugees, you may like to do activity "Can
I come in?".
Alternatively, you may like to look at other monetary issues,
for example at the unequal distribution of wealth and power in
the world and the consequences. "The
scramble for wealth and power" on page 231 is a simulation
that addresses these issues.
If people enjoyed 'Money to spend' because they like practising
their negotiation skills, then they may like to do the activity,
"In our block"
in the all different all equal education pack. In this
activity the focus is on resolving conflict between people from
different cultures and social background.
Ideas for action
Why not encourage discussion on the issue of demilitarisation?
The more people there are who are aware of the problem, the more
there will be who can bring pressure on governments to make changes.
Find out what proportion of your state budget is spent on military
and social needs. The group could write to their MP and ask for
There are also numerous opportunities to join the many demilitarisation
campaigns that are organised worldwide, such as Youth and Student
Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (http://youthstudentend.org.uk)
and Pax Christi International (www.paxchristi.net/).
Or start your own campaign in your group and you can use organisations
like these ones as resources.
The international arms industry
fundamentally undermines human security because it diverts priority
attention, and therefore resources, away from basic human needs.
The main argument forwarded for the allocation of resources for
the military is the need to protect the state's population and
territory. But are people truly protected if they do not receive
education, health and food? Does military spending reflect the
populations' needs or the states' interests?
An additional problem is that the state's investment in its
security (and arguably the security of its people) is a vicious
cycle; each state tries to have better and better weapons to overcome
the military power of other states. This is called the "arms
During the 10-year period following the end of the cold war
there was a reduction in military spending. As demilitarisation
took place state policies should have been developed to ensure
that the "peace dividend" - the money saved from the
military budget - was used to enhance human security, for instance,
by increased spending on education and health. In reality this
rarely happened because most of the "peace dividend"
was used to reduce national debts.
World military expenditure is now on the increase again. The
rise began in 1999 and continued in 2000. This would appear to
be a paradox because security is now much improved in many areas
of the world. The reason seems to be that several of the major
spenders have adopted or announced defence plans that include
Peace activists and campaigners have argued for decades that
a vigorous and creative programme of conversion from military
to civilian production is vital. They give a number of reasons
- the immorality of the arms industry itself and its destructive
- the dangers of the increasing proliferation in arms dealing
- the inability of the arms industry to police itself and the
use to which its products would be put
- the inherent wastefulness of the industry and scandalous
misuses of resources and human brain-power and
- the potential which conversion would unleash.
In chapter 5, in the background section on Peace and Violence,
there are statistics and
tables which are relevant to this activity.