Promoting quality education for all.

Education: The Best Way to Wage War on Terror

August 5, 2010

Source: The Alexandria Times

By Jennifer Gillyard

To the editor:

Globally there are more than 72 million children ages 5 to 11 not in school and more than 250,000 youth engaged in conflict, some of which are recruited into violent extremist groups as early as 10 years old. In a 2004 report by United States Agency for International Development on youth in conflict, researchers found that “when young people are uprooted, jobless, intolerant, alienated, and with few opportunities for positive engagement, they represent a ready pool of recruits for groups seeking to mobilize violence.”

As a local social worker and life skills specialist, I have seen how the lack of a quality education leads to a hopeless worldview, lack of opportunities and often incites a violent lifestyle. I have taught children who fled their country for lack of educational opportunities and fear of becoming influenced by violent extremist groups. And as a resident of Alexandria and a citizen of this country, which has been affected by acts of terrorism, I believe in the security and innate value of each human being. Therefore, offering a better quality education in a conflict-free environment extends to our global partners.

The common denominator between youth who are forced into conflict and those who voluntarily join extremist groups is a lack of educational and economic opportunities, which in return changes an individual’s worldview from one of hope to despair. Research shows that an individual’s income level does not solely dictate whether they will join an extremist group; however, lack of a quality education coupled with extreme poverty is fertile ground for violence and exploitation.

In the Middle East, Central Asia and parts of Africa youth can receive a free education at unregistered madrasahs, some of which teach an extreme worldview of justice by violence. In Sub-Saharan Africa, not only can youth not afford an education, but when many return from being forced into conflict they are often denied the opportunity of continuing their education, which causes them to return to conflict and violence for survival. A report by Save the Children shows that every year of schooling a male receives decreases his chances of engaging in violent conflict by 20 percent. So what should our response be towards the lack of quality education for children in conflict?

Globally, a better quality education would include the elimination of school fees and establishing a community-based curriculum that includes teaching a worldview fostering respect and dignity, life skills, literacy and numeracy skills as well as entrepreneurship. This can be accomplished by supporting the Education for All Act of 2010 (H.R. 5117) that was recently introduced in the House of Representatives. Alexandria’s congressman, Rep. Jim Moran, an astute decision maker and champion of fighting crime with education reform, has co-sponsored this act and I encourage other representatives to follow his lead. By passing this act, America can become a global example of choosing education to nurture world peace.

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All the World’s Children Need Education

June 23, 2010

Source: Hartford Courant

By Erin DeRoy

The World Cup, including the ringing of the vuvuzela horns in our ears, is here. And, off the playing fields of South Africa, organizers of the the 2010 FIFA World Cup are trying to use the attention and energy their event has generated to help put children in school. They have joined the 1GOAL initiative, a critical global campaign to make sure all of the world's children get an education.

The idea is to bring together the influence of soccer players and fans, as well as charities and organizations, to call on world leaders to make education a reality for all children by 2015.

A bill before Congress, The Education for All Act of 2010, would add a significant boost to this international campaign. The legislation urges the United States to provide the resources and leadership needed to ensure a successful international effort in providing all children with a basic quality education. I urge my congressman, Rep. John Larson, D-East Hartford — a man who understands the power and potential of education — to co-sponsor this important legislation.

I am an avid volunteer and advocate for children, and I know we all have an impact on educating our world's children. Two summers ago, I traveled to Ecuador and worked in an underprivileged and impoverished community. As a volunteer, I focused on the betterment of children through education — educating some children who had never been to school.

The tremendous effort each child made to attend class was powerful evidence that they valued education and wanted to learn — regardless of the distance to school, exhaustion due to malnutrition or poor school quality. Sadly, children's longing will not always give them the education they dream of receiving. Children need resources, support and, this year, implementation of the Education for All Act to get the assistance they need to pursue their dream of learning.

Globally, there are 72 million children between the ages 5 and 11 who are not in school. These children are faced with a vast array of unfortunate obstacles that inhibit their ability to receive a quality education. Nevertheless, every child needs and deserves an education to see a brighter future for themselves and their families. All villages, communities and countries need educated citizens to ensure a prosperous, healthy and vibrant future.

Education is one of the best ways of helping children grow up safe, healthy and prepared to lift their communities out of poverty. A quality education expands employment opportunities and gives people a chance to earn higher wages. Education, particularly for girls, also leads to better health outcomes for children, adults and families. In addition, education can lower the risk of conflict for a country, which creates a safer world for us all.

In the words of 1GOAL's co-chairman, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, "Education is the engine through which development can be powered, both for the individual in opening up new opportunities as well as for countries seeking to move out of the fierce grip of poverty. This year's World Cup in South Africa provides a platform to deliver a lasting legacy that will last for generations."

Erin DeRoy, 21 of Cromwell, is a senior, majoring in international affairs at the George Washington University and is an intern at Global Action for Children in Washington.

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