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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 4, No. 10. September 18, 1941

Plan for Action

Plan for Action

With the exceptions perhaps of Frederick the Great and General Franco, if can be reckoned that throughout two thousand years of warfare the majority of successful armies have been created by communities relatively freer and more democratic than their opponents. The odds, to judge from from of the past, are about three to one in favour of a democracy (relative, limited, qualified, even monarchial) beating an autocracy. Modern war makes voluntary understood, and thinking discipline, and elastic tactics based on initiative and independence, more valuable than ever before. The realisation of these facts has induced the military and political authorities in Britain and Australia to include an educational scheme as part of normal army training.

Such schemes have as their deliberate objects "Education in a wider sense, tending to raise the level of general intelligence and to develop those qualities of mind and character which go to form an efficient disciplined force under modern conditions; practice in self-expression with a view to clear thinking and accurate statement; general reading and study for self-development; and the study of modern world problems." This is the kernel of the whole scheme.

The machinery for working it is something as follows. It is controlled by a civilian Director of Education Services. Each unit has an educational officer whose duties are:
1.To advise the commanding officer on educational matters.
2.By personal knowledge of officers and men to ascertain as fully as possible the educational needs of the unit, and to interest himself generally in the life and work of the station.
3.To make himself acquainted with local educational resources such as local teachers or personnel willing to undertake part time instruction, classes under local education authorities, and library facilities.
4.To prepare from time to time a programme to meet the needs of the unit.
5.To undertake personally as much as possible of the instructional work.
6.To be available to give advice on educational matters.
7.To be responsible for proper use and care of educational accommodation, to provide necessary supplies, and to maintain a reference library.

The above scheme is on a voluntary basis except that the C.O. may make attendance compulsory if necessary for service efficiency. It is also regarded as part and parcel of a man's training and not as entertainment.

Some similar plan is urgently needed in New Zealand, more especially for those units permanently mobilised and to a lesser degree during the three months' Territorial training.