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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Mortenson, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. The Education Fraud

Today I was really riled up by Global Citizen's post : 'If girls would complete their primary education, maternal deaths would decrease by 70%'.
Someone please explain this daft statement to me because I cannot see how having completed high school will help a woman who has no access to a clean, well-equipped medical facility!
I think that is the stupidest oversimplification of a very serious social problem. What expectant mothers need is proper nutrition and support. They need medical care during and after the pregnancy, and during the birthing process. 
And that brings me to what I call the 'Education Fraud.' There has been this concerted effort by everyone in the 'do-good' field to make us believe that setting up schools is the answer to everything. From Malala's claims of how important education is to her country (it is, but so much more needs to be addressed before setting up schools) to people signing off parts of their paychecks to help some child learn his abcd's in a remote corner of the world, we all have bought into the concept of investing in schooling. It is great, but it is pointless if it is not predicated on more pressing priorities. And especially when we are already rethinking our entire learning system!
I was always irritated with Greg Mortenson's idea. It bothered me that he thought kids who were covering their frost-bitten feet with straw should be thrilled with the pencils he provided. The deprivation those children were experiencing, they would be thrilled with anything. Electricity, plumbing, water, maybe even chocolates.....? I will not accept that that the joy of learning something new (for it is a joy) is more important that basic human needs. And incomprehensible soundbites like the one that leads this write-up do not convince me. My cook's son goes to a school where where most of the students come from well-to-do families. Along with the theorems and grammar, he learns how disadvantaged he is and how different from his friends. He is a very unhappy child.
I work for an organization that sets up schools in under-resourced communities in Punjab. It is a unique model. All the children come from one community. Besides the basic food and clothing, we ensure that the children learn to express their hopes and fears. There is no set curriculum; the aim is to provide a safe nurturing environment for them to develop their potential. It is not schooling as much as it is nurturing and support. the concentration remains on what they need, not what we would like them to have.
Poverty is a much more insidious evil than a simple lack of opportunity for the affected community. It affects the mindset of a people, it affects the spirit, it affects their thinking. Recent research proves it affects both mind and brain. More pertinently, it results in markedly uncomfortable living situations and limits people's access to facilities that everyone has a right to. Poverty is a disease, and it, like any other disease, has to be given the proper antidote. I can assure you that that antidote is not a pencil or a blackboard. 
About 805 million people of the 7.3 billion people in the world are suffering from chronic undernourishment. This is a 2015 UN statistic. Each one of these individuals, children and the mothers-to-be included, are hungry and afraid. Their main worry is how to fend off hunger pangs, where to get clean water from, and what livelihood to find that will sustain them. It is our collective responsibility to make food and stability a priority, for all people everywhere in the world. Education is only the next step. We should move to that step only after we have lived up to our humanity; after every individual in our race is safe from hunger and strife. it is not education but the freedom from hunger and oppression is the most basic human right that we absolutely must address. 

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2. The non-fiction class action

By Andrew Trask The non-fiction author has all kinds of worries. He may get his facts seriously wrong, in a very public forum. His books may not sell. Even if his books do sell, he may be sued for libel (the print version of slander), especially in Europe. And, in the past few years, a new threat

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