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The Muse

September 06, 2006

Educating our Future

It is a fact that education is the key to solving tomorrow's problems, and it is the key to breaking the vicious "cycle of poverty" that is confronting millions across the world today.

Some sobering facts:

  • An estimated 110 million children -- 60 percent of them girls -- between the ages of six and 11 will not see the inside of a classroom this year. Another 150 million are likely to drop out before completing primary school.
  • Two 1999 World Bank studies found that closing the education gender gap in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa would have led to faster economic growth between 1960 and 1992.
  • Another 63-country study attributed 43 percent of the decline in malnutrition achieved between 1970 and 1995 to more productive farming as a result of increased female education.
  • An extra year of female education can reduce infant mortality by 5 percent to 10 percent.
  • In Africa, children of mothers who receive five years of primary education are 40 percent less likely to die before age five than are children of uneducated mothers
These observations are from a stunning piece on PBS - Back to School - that I caught recently. The show tracks seven children in seven different countries as they go to school. The programme reports that the cost for providing universal education has been estimated at perhaps $7.5 billion to $10 billion per year.

I'll leave you to check out the report yourself, but do look at this map that shows the current status of global literacy in the world. 36% of the world's out of school children are reported to live in South and West Asia.

People better than me are doing what they can to help spread education, and here are two instances that caught my attention recently:

  • The Ramanujam School of Mathematics is run free of charge by Anand Kumar, 33, a local mathematician, and Abhayanand, 52, a deputy director general of police. This school provides housing, coaching and free lessons to 30 underprivileged children from the state of Bihar. Over the past two years, 16 and 22 students, respectively, out of the 30 have graduated from this school and made it to the IIT's. They expect all 30 to get in this time [full article through Rediff here.]
  • At a cost of over $40 million [and counting] Oprah Winfrey, opened the doors to The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa. She interviewed more than 3000 applicants herself and decided on her first batch of 150 students. The academy will offer training in leadership skills as well as traditional academic subjects, and will prepare its students to attend the "best universities in the world". [Report on CNN. I know everyone is busy, but do watch this video on Youtube, and go to 2:30 if you want to skip the early parts. I'll tell you, I was jumping with those girls at the end!]


  • Ram,

    That was a real eye-opener..!
    That map, especially made me sit up and take notice. Education is a must to remedy the flaws in our community. In a way, there lies the solution for the problems of the next generation.

    Yes lots of people are doing a lot of things to see to it that education is made easily available for the less privileged. There must be more and more such schools, we can always provide monetary support for such efforts without a second thought. Another important thing is to spread awareness, which nobles souls like you are most aptly doing.

    You remember, recently I talked about the farmer in Maharashtra. Well!, after coming to know about his plight, some one has donated a free bull he had, to that poor farmer. So you see Awareness is very important, I guess.

    It is in their education, that lies the hope of an ideal society tomorrow.

    Thanks for sharing all these wonderful links and valuable info.

    With Best Regards,
    Srijith Unni.

    By Anonymous Srijith Unni, at 1:46 AM  

  • In reply to ur comment on my post - "You know what - PR aside, why does CSE target only multinationals. Why not HLL's drinks? Why not local drinks? Probably the PR is much deserved! What say?"
    PS: You have a good blog dude. I loved this post on education esp.

    By Blogger Aishwarya Rao, at 6:31 AM  

  • Public awreness and the need for education shud be implemented thru' social workers and students itself.
    A child labor with less money can only save the family. But with better education, he/she can bring good life to the family itslef.

    By Anonymous priya, at 8:21 AM  

  • Instead of freebies, the government has to strive to carry the children through highschool, not just elementary education, which it does through noon-meal schemes.

    By Blogger Jinguchakka, at 5:02 PM  

  • It was a wonderful sight seeing them all jump! Oprah herself is such a shining example of how determination can help to overcome trials & tribulations to reach any height one can.

    Thanx for the wonderful post!


    By Blogger RandomThoughts, at 2:11 AM  

  • Glad you found the post informative Srijith. I was quite taken aback by the map too. 10-15 billion a year does not seem to be a large amount of money in the context of things, so this is indeed a pity. You put it nicely, awareness is also very essential. That is fantastic news re: the farmer, I saw a lot of activity on the CNN-IBN notice board, so it is heartening to hear that something has been done to ease his burden. Let's spread awareness in whatever way we can, I guess that's the least we can do! Thanks and you keep it up too :)

    Welcome princess - great to see you here. Thanks, glad you liked it. Your post on gaana songs took me back to my college tours! ;)

    By Blogger Ram, at 3:04 AM  

  • Well said Priya, in the long run its education that is going to change lives. Let's hope that we are on the path.

    Welcome JC. Yes, I've longed thought that schools hold the key, and we continue to focus on reservations and quotas at the IIT's and colleges. Get everyone through high school and things will take care of themselves.

    By Blogger Ram, at 3:06 AM  

  • Wasn't that something Rashmi?! I was almost moved to tears when I saw the kids actually realize what Oprah had just said. The parents were all up and jumping too! Like the narrator said, "...and just like that, 150 young lives had been changed...forever". I can only imagine how tremendously gratified Oprah must have felt at that point. I admire her for her toughness and attitude, as well as for her pursuit of a cause.

    Glad you liked it!

    By Blogger Ram, at 3:09 AM  

  • Hm...Nice infos well written :)
    Thanku 4 sharing :)

    By Blogger Ponnarasi Kothandaraman, at 2:29 AM  

  • Glad you liked it Ponnarasi..you're very welcome.

    By Blogger Ram, at 5:47 PM  

  • this is really a difficult problem and i am also glad people like warren buffet, bill gates are tackling the health aspect in children which will improve the education level correcpondingly.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:32 AM  

  • Hi Amimu, welcome here. Yes, it is indeed heartening to see people like Buffet and Gates taking a leading role in improving serious problems in the world today. More power to them, and let's do what we can to help in these efforts!

    By Blogger Ram, at 5:42 PM  

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