A Nobel Prize for Education

When education probably holds the key to solving most of the emerging critical issues of our time, you have to wonder why society is so complacent about its quality. Governments appear to be aware of how important education is (and how much it matters to voters) which is why they make such positive noises about it. Who can remember, without shuddering the pledge from new British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, soon after his first election victory when he announced “Ask me my three priorities for government and I say – Education, education and education”. Strange, no mention of WMD’s, Sadam Hossain, Afghanistan. Somewhere, when it comes down to it it seems that for most politicians it’s way easier to talk about education than it is to really Do something about it.

So, I’m always pleased to say anything happening that brings education to front of stage, in the full glare of the lights where it belongs. This article highlights a new award from the ‘World Innovation Summit of Education (WISE)’ held in Qatar. The first recipient of the award is the man responsible for BRAC, an NGO that I know well from my time working and living in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Vast numbers of people worldwide are aware of the name and fame of Grameen, the NGO started by Dr Mohammed Younis. BRAC is perhaps less known outside that country, but has built its work to a vast scale.

BBC Article on World Innovation Summit for Education

It was fascinating to read about the experiences that motivated Mr Fazle Hasan Abed, though not at all surprising that his number one concern remains inequity in education – access throughout the world still depends almost entirely upon economic status at birth.

The contribution of the former British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown is depressing, but completely unsurprising. He is the first of many who are going to start telling the world, over the next 3-4 years that the world has failed to live up to the promises and commitments of the Millennium Development Goals. These were a set of goals drawn up under the auspices of the United Nations, to be achieved by every signatory country by 2015. As Brown made clear, there’s been too little achieved to have any hope now that some of those goals are going to be achieved.

Goal number 2 is ‘universal primary education’, but unfortunately in some places it’s doing more damage than good. Here in India, as highlighted in the other article I put on this blog today (taken from Indian Express newspaper) on the current state of the Indian education system, makes very clear that the emphasis has been on ‘right to school’ rather than any kind of right to quality education. I fear that in India, as in many other countries, those in power will feel the need to focus on access to school, leaving the nature of the education provided unattended and wanting.

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One Response

  1. I would say, access to school is still better than no access to school at all. How will you create first floor when there is no ground floor?

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