The first responsibility of a newspaper and its columnists is to be factually correct and not mislead their readers.
Therefore, may I be allowed space to respond to Tony Willis and his lengthy, but inaccurate, attack on The Department for Overseas Development (DFID) on the basis of it allegedly wasting taxpayers’ money by funding dance classes in Brazil (Northumberland Gazette, June 7)?
A check of its website shows that DFID does not even work in Brazil.
It is a claim found in an eight-year-old newspaper report by The International Policy Network, a now defunct, extreme ‘think tank’.
It attacked DFID for spending 0.24 per cent of its budget in the UK; £80,000 per year of it in East London to teach youngsters empathy and understanding of the wider world by funding Brazilian dance classes.
Such initiatives actually sound like a perfectly reasonable use of tiny amounts of taxpayers’ money. They can broaden young peoples’ lives far beyond the tragic confines of social media, (un)reality TV, junk food and much of today’s bleak, ‘tick-box’ education by rote.
These sometimes seem to be aimed at turning youngsters from informed, idealistic, responsible citizens of their area, their country and the world to passive, unwell minions, consumers and customers.
Yes, a lot of the countries where DFID works have corrupt governments, but should all citizens of a nation, including our own, be lumped together with those who are supposed to be governing them?
I am confident that DFID goes to great lengths to use our tax money effectively.