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8th January 2011
Comment from a grateful resident of Bo, Sierra Leone: “I just want to thank you for creating this window so that people can see and know the importance of Mr. Blair. We in Bo, Sierra Leone feel sad when we read on the net about all the bad things people are saying about such a very important man. Now we can enjoy freedom and our country can move forward, thanks to Mr Blair. Tony….. may you live a 1000 years. I only wish your children will come to Sierra Leone to see not only the school but the land of their grand[sic] ‘great?’ father. God bless you for your good work.”
With all this boasting by some about Academies in Britain, I thought you’d be interested to know that the grass doesn’t grow under the feet of the Academies’ political originator. Even out of domestic political office Tony Blair still stands by his education, education, education mantra.
This school in Bo, Sierra Leone, is for boys and girls from nursery right up to senior school.
While Michael Gove, a great admirer of Blair, celebrates that we now have 10% of secondary schools signed up as academies, Tony Blair’s academy project is spreading wider still and wider.
A school in Bo, Southern Sierra Leone was named in 2008 as Tony Blair International Academy (TBIA), as a sign of appreciation for the role Mr Blair and the British people played in ending the brutal civil war in their country.
To find out more about this school go to: http://www.tbia2008.jimdo.com
Believe it or not I didn’t know anything about this Academy in Sierra Leone until very recently, and I consider myself an avid Blair watcher. According to this comment it is possible that Mr Blair didn’t even know about it himself! If that was the case, he does now.
A quick google search for this school only came up with this on Fourah Bay College, the Sierra Leone University which became the first African University to join his Faith Foundation. I’ve already written about this here, of course. I suppose the mainstream British press reported on it too. I suppose. Perhaps one day they will as the number of universities teaching his Faith in a Global Community course increases. No breath-holding!
But in my google search there was nothing from the British press on this school in Bo. Not even at Tony Blair’s own website. So perhaps he really didn’t know, though I must admit even I find that hard to understand.
Wikipedia has this on Britain’s relationship with Sierra Leone. Still no TBIA mention. Perhaps it’s time someone updated Wikipedia, and Mr Blair’s website.
Odd how the mainstream press in Britain haven’t mentioned this, especially in the light of the present government’s wholesale fixation of, take-over of and extension in England of Blair’s Academies policy. Isn’t it just? When it comes to Tony Blair our ever-so-honest press are still only interested in talking about policies which they feel will hurt his reputation.
PROJECT STARTED IN 2008
But the project seems to have got going over two and a half years ago, starting in the summer of 2008, as can be seen from the comments at the Guestbook here.
That’s due to the efforts of the people of Bo, politicians, educationalists and business people, and above all to the influence of Tony Blair himself.
The video above is from this YouTube channel – tbia2008
THERE ARE MORE VIDEOS ABOUT THE TBIA HERE
Towards the end of the video above the children sing their school song with the chorus “Tony Blair International Academy” (words here). I do realise how this will upset some in Britain who will mutter all sorts of things about “vanity project”, “brainwashing” etc. Believe me that kind of cynicism tells us more about his small-minded critics than it does about Mr Blair. Their knee-jerk reaction – and I know it’s there, I can feel it – tells us all we need to know about them, and a lot more that we should understand about Tony Blair.
Not a bad comment in the video, eh? A school set up “which will immortalise Tony Blair and what he has done for Sierra Leone.”
Immortalising Blair? That’s it. The reason the press don’t mention it!
He is simply Sierra Leone’s Hero.
From “Why the name Tony Blair?” –
“England is Sierra Leone’s best friend,” said an observer. “Sierra Leoneans are very grateful to the support that the United Kingdom has given to the country to help them deal with the war and the aftermath of the war.” Britain has long had a close relationship with the West African nation founded with British help by freed slaves in the 1700s. According to sources in Freetown, Mr. Blair also has personal ties in the country. His father was an examiner at the Furrow Bay College, which was one of the earliest universities in West Africa, this mean, he has both the national and personal ties to Sierra Leone.”
This is what happened to children in Sierra Leone before Tony Blair engaged British troops, who put an end to it. The civil war started in 1991 and finished in 2002, following Tony Blair’s government’s involvement.
A SCHOOL NAMED AFTER A POLITICIAN. A FIRST? NOT QUITE.
I wondered for a while if this was a first for a British politician/(former) prime minister, within his/her lifetime? Off the top of my head I can’t think of a Thatcher Academy, although she was known as the milk-snatcher. Or a (Kenneth) Baker College, although he did have Baker Days (Inset Day) called after him for a bit. There are Churchill Schools, such as this one commemorating the wartime leader. Presumably it was set up after Churchill’s death. I couldn’t find a reference to its opening date.
In fact there was a precedent but some time ago – see below, Grey College, Durham.
How irritating for some that a former prime minister, retired but still with us, should have schools set up in his name. Especially when ‘luminaries’ in his own Labour party have already announced that being an MP should be the ‘pinnacle of their careers’.
Paul Flynn, Labour MP, on work after parliament: ‘People will assume there are strings he can pull and under the current system there is no way of proving what is really going on. Former ministers really should be stopped from doing this kind of work – they should see public service as the pinnacle of their careers.”
Generally speaking you’re right, Mr Flynn. But only generally. Tony Blair, your party’s most successful leader, ever, is not from the general mould. However you are more right, Mr Flynn, on the blogosphere. But that’s a whole other story.
For most MPs being an MP clearly is, or was the pinnacle. And tonight the former Labour MP David Chaytor, from inside his Wandsworth prison cell, will be mulling over how far he rose in public service and how far he has now fallen in the public eye. But that again is for another post.
NOT A BRITISH ‘THING’
From this list you can see that setting up an educational establishment in the name of a living individual is not a very ‘British thing’ to do. But Mr Blair is not shy at using his ‘brand’ name for this purpose. And rightly so. He has a Faith Foundation and a Sports Foundation as well as his Africa Governance Initiative and major involvement in the Breaking the Climate Deadlock project to fill his spare time. This, as we all know, is shared with his position as the Quartet’s Representative in the Middle East, as thankless a task as they come.
HERIOT-WATT & GREY COLLEGE
Without too much research I found two educational establishments, not too far from Tony Blair’s younger days, which might have contributed the germ of a thought towards some of his present projects. Neither of these establishments would have been rooted in “old” Labour collectivist instincts, needless to say. Financiers, engineers and privileged landed gentry were their forte.
Educated in Edinburgh he’d have been well aware of the Heriot-Watt University. Brought up in Durham, the University City which now subscribes to his Faith & Globalisation course, he would also have known about Grey College, Durham.
In fact Grey College was named after the then Prime Minister – Charles Grey. Grey was among those responsible for setting up the Reform Act of 1832. But to most of us his name is associated with Earl Grey tea. Rather mild for my liking, though good for a delicate stomach. Especially with honey.
If Tony Blair wants his name to live on after his days perhaps he needs to get his business head on and invent a new drink. He’ll need to keep one step ahead of this lot though. The Telegraph already has the scalp of one former Labour MP. I’m sure the’re happy. For Tories, there’s nothing like the success business. Unless it’s Labour success. In which case it becomes the Torygraph’s business.
- Over 10 % of secondary schools in Britain are now academies
Good news following the bad news of the Alexandria attack on Coptics: “Muslims protect christians at their Christmas Day mass. “Either we live together or we die together” said a woman, a Muslim human shield for the Copts. So right. Well said, and well done. I thank you and salute you.
Sign the Ban Blair-Baiting petition here
“All countries need a leader who isn’t afraid to fight terrorism. I believe Mr. Blair did a necessary job in helping his allies. Are we all just supposed to lie down and wait for them to come for us, I don’t think so.”
And – “Mr. Blair is one of the finest politicians to have had the privilege of serving the United Kingdom, and Britons are fortunate to have had him as their Prime Minister. Time will show that Mr. Blair’s approach to affairs in the Middle East were and remain correct. From a member of the Commonwealth, thank you, Mr. Blair, for your continued service to legitimate and lasting (and not convenient or politically expedient) freedom.”
AND – “Tony Blair was the greatest Prime Minister since Winston Churchill and the only regret I have he didn’t get my vote as I live in Canada.”
AND – “I am sick and tired of television and radio interviewers asking the same old questions over and over, regarding the decision to go to war in Iraq, presumably they hope Mr Blair will let slip some secret information which they would then use against him. History will show if the decision was the right one, (I believe it was) but people must accept that Tony Blair is an honourable man, and made his decision based on the known facts and not with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight.”
Tags: africa, Baker College, Bo, Bo Sierra Leone, Churchill, David Chaytor, education education education, Ernest Bai Koroma, Fourah Bay College, michael gove, prime minister, Sierra Leone, Sierra Leonean leone, Sierra Leoneans, TBIA, telegraph, Tony Blair, Tony Blair International Academy, West Africa