The power of education is no more a mystery. It is perhaps the biggest tool currently available for the successful running of the nation or if I can take a leaf out of Thomas Friedman’s “The world is Flat”, then perhaps the whole world. The “Jasmine Revolution” that led to the ousting of the Tunisian President followed by the “Great Uprising of Egypt” that saw the end of the 30 year rule by President Hosni Mubarak was invincible. An effortless gaze at these demonstrations would tell you that this is a movement of the youth who have been fed up with the government for its failure to accomplish socio-economic development of the country.
An excess of adult young male population sometimes leads to social unrest & possibly war. A term “Youth bulge” has been coined to define this concept. Looking at the median age across the world, African continent & the Middle East have the least amongst all the other countries. There is a serious necessity to equip the young generation with adequate education that will help them in finding jobs and making a life for themselves. As per Gordon Brown–“The consequences of this profound social failure will make this year’s youth uprising in Egypt and Tunisia look like the opening salvo of a wider generational battle for justice for the world’s young people. Our failure to meet our promise on education is an immoral neglect of our most vulnerable citizens.”
The UNESCO’s Millennium development goal which promised to get every child into basic education by 2015 remains a far fledged dream as the number of out of school children is increasing year after year. Let’s take a close look at the spending on education for few countries. Cuba & Uzbekistan top the world table in terms of the spending on education as a percentage of their GDP. The literacy levels in Cuba are above 96% and that in Uzbekistan hovers around a phenomenal 99%.African countries such as Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger & the newly formed country of South Sudan have the least literacy levels in the world( around 26%).These 4 African countries spend roughly 4% of their GDP on education. The overall literacy level in the African Continent is less than 60% with roughly 40 million children out of school. There is an ever increasing intervention of NGOs in the Africa region over the years trying to supplement the works by African governments but the need is for more. 3 days ago UN declared famine in parts of Somalia. An armed movement called Al-Shabaab( which translates in English as “The Youths”) rejected the UN statement as baseless & called for a war against the current government in Somalia. We are talking about these youths who should be our focal point for development and all other out of school children who are in danger of joining or forming such organisations.
I was reading an article on a website (http://www.campaignforeducation.org) which put an estimate of $16 billion that is required to get everyone enrolled in a school for a basic education. Let’s not forget that education is a basic human right of every child. As far as India is concerned, I am happy that the Right to Education Act is finally operational. A recent article in Times of India newspaper titled “Escape from Ajamgarh”( http://tinyurl.com/3vdwjzh) again talks about such kids who somehow wants to escape from this misery that has overpowered this sleepy town of Ajamgarh in eastern Uttar Pradesh.
Things have to change and change for the good of all. Each one of us has an equal stake here.