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The International Writers Magazine: Comment

Education - Results
James Martin
Have you ever thought about the true value of an education?  Whether you did well at school, went on to college or university or not, became a lawyer, teacher, chef or joiner, the fact of the matter is that in the UK,  for the majority, some form of education, no matter how minimal, is considered to be an entitlement.


However, compulsory education is for too many of us living in the western world – a luxury, often never truly appreciated.  The same, however, can’t be said for the many thousands of children born into a life below basic sustenance. Those whose only true crime in life is be born in to societies where drought, famine and civil war determine the unlikelihood of a life away from day-to-day survival.  Putting it bluntly, many thousands of people living in fragile states have no such reason to verify the benefits of a university education, or an alternative such as learning a trade.  So count yourselves lucky, those of you who might have said to yourselves at some stage in life:  “Oh, I wish I’d stuck in at school more”, or words to that effect because second chances in life are largely unheard of in the developing world.   In fact, every time you drive to work in the morning you are probably spending more money in petrol consumption than a young orphan child living in war-torn Somalia will live off throughout an entire month!

The fight against international poverty has many facets.  Many of you will be aware of charities such as ‘Save the Children’ or the  ‘Red Cross’ and the good work that these organisations do in the bid to raise funds to target various forms of poverty across the globe.  However, although buying clothes or books from a charity shop is often the best way for anyone in the UK to help the developing world, more often than not it is ignorance and greed on an international political scale that prevents the west from financially supporting the real needs of the poor. 

‘Results – The power to end poverty’ is the UK based charity awareness group intent on changing western ignorance towards international poverty.  Making provision for education in the developing world is a prime concern for Results, and to do this western governments must be made aware of the responsibility that they have in financing education systems throughout Africa and Asia.  After all, there remains a strong correlation between former European empires and their manipulation of African and Asian resources which, I feel, is inextricably linked to the current plight of millions living below the thresholds of poverty. 

Debate regarding the validity of Britain and America’s participation in the Iraq war, or the continuation of the conflict in Afghanistan continues to provoke immense scepticism from the British public towards the government.  The one billion pounds that has been spent on Britain’s war machine in the middle-east since 2003 is a ridiculous sum of money to be wasted on a conflict that, for many, can only be described as unlawful, not to mention inhumane. Just think of the amount of books that could have been bought and the number of schools that could have been built with that some of the money!

Africa is yet another example of a continent where civil war is strife in several totalitarian states such as Somalia, Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).  Due to war in Africa, it has proved very difficult for the west to encourage African states to create a social infrastructure suited to children’s learning.  In the DRC, more than five million primary children are unable to attend school regularly, and due to the intensity of totalitarian government more than six million teenagers don’t attend school.  Conflict in the DRC has left many schools physically ravaged by the horrors of war with many teachers unpaid or not paid whatsoever.

The DRC is just one example of an underdeveloped state where state education has largely been forfeited. Unfortunately, throughout the developing world the implementation of a universal education system remains an unlikelihood that millions of children will never benefit from.  However, attempts have been made to try and solve this problem.

Think back ten years to the Dakar World Education Forum where commitments from both the developed and developing world were made towards improving the number of children attending schools.  Since the year 2000, statistics show that over forty million more children have entered the school system across the globe, so there is reason to be optimistic that more young lives can be enhanced in the developing world.  However, there are still more than seventy million children worldwide who have no access to education, mainly in conflict affected areas. 

‘RESULTS’ - is a charity that remains at the forefront of campaigns directed at the UK government to support initiatives bringing education to disadvantaged children across the globe.  You can help by joining your local group, meeting once per month to discuss poverty-related issues including education.  So don’t wait any longer, please get in touch with your local co-ordinator or check out details on website: http://www.results-uk.org/
© James Martin March 2010
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