The Eight Millennium Development Goals cont.
Step Two: Achieving universal primary education.
In most parts of Europe and America, education is taken for granted and, even worse, children often consider it a method adults have invented to torture them. And while getting education is considered the normal thing to do, one may go through college without fully appreciating how lucky he or she is. You hear college students say “I wonder what I’m still doing here! I can learn so much more in the real world, without writing papers and reading assignments.” Needless to say, that person does not have second thoughts about the millions of people who have never held a pen in their hand and cannot write their name or express themselves in an essay. Probably, we, the lucky ones, who got a diploma, are responsible for those who cannot write a letter to some social organization and cannot complain in writing to their government. Perhaps, education is supposed to help us better understand the suffering of these people. Perhaps, this is responsibility we have to admit and commit to. In complaining that the computer labs in one’s university are somewhat ‘out of date’ let us spare a thought for the people who will never have the chance to learn what a computer is and let us try to build some understanding. In the year 2001, 115 million children in developing countries were out of school. In sub-Saharan Africa only, the percent of children that do not receive education is 42%. Not surprisingly, children from poorer families are even less likely to ever go to school. This leaves us little place to wonder about what chances for success and progress these children have in this highly-competitive world.
In villages in Tanzania, children are suffering too heavy a burden to be concerned with writing homework assignments. From the age of 10, Joyce walked for about 10 hours every night in order to fetch water for her family’s needs, for the day to come. She leaves her village, Uhambingeto, at midnight and returns at about 10 a.m. on the following morning with her burden of 20 liters bucket of water (nearly 22 fluid quarts). Thus, Joyce covers more than 8000 km every year (about 4 970 miles). However, it is wrong to assume we are talking isolated cases. Villagers in Tanzania may not be representative for peoples all over the world, but they surely mean there is something wrong in the order established. The organization of the United Nations has addressed the same problem and has made schools in Tanzania a fact. A fact that gives children there a lot of joy and a way to escape the hard work of their days and feel a part of something greater than working on the fields, perhaps the only fact that will remind them they should have a childhood. At least Joyce’s children will be able to receive primary education.
Recently, in Venezuela, 1.2 million adults were the students of new schools that taught them how to read and write.
In many countries, Pakistan among them, children are important work force. The 14 year old Jabber is one of the child laborers in Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city. His job is making construction blocks. The boy who gets up at seven in the morning and works from 8 a.m. until 7 in the evening shares “I don’t like school. I went there once, but never again.” Enduring the hard work all their lives, these adults-to-be have no happy memories of careless childhood, no hopes, or opportunities, but only a few hours of sleep until the next working day.
In yet another part of the globe, Romanian orphans complain they have “nothing to do”. The children explain: “We were not allowed out – and most of the time we were not even allowed to play. It was really boring because there was nothing to do. The staff used to beat us a lot. I think they liked it. Sometimes they would get drunk and then they would hit us really hard. We had a shower once a week, but the carers didn’t want to touch us, so we washed each other. Often we didn’t have any hair (it was shaven off periodically to avoid head lice).” And while this may sound as the horrific description of a concentration camp back in World War II, it is part of Today’s reality.
(Pictures: National Geographic Magazine)