A newly released report by UNESCO highlights that every day $1.3 billion is spent on equipping armies across the globe. The organisation has also determined that aid spending on education in support of poor countries has dropped by the same figure over the last four years. It is a worrying statistic, one that virtually flies in-the-face of the old adage "the pen is mightier than the sword". The report further makes the assertion that "the cuts are biting hardest in those countries furthest from reaching the education goals. In sub-Saharan Africa, which is home to over half the world’s out-of-school children, aid to basic education fell between 2010 and 2011, and stagnated between 2011 and 2012. Since 2010, 12 African countries have seen cuts in their aid to basic education of US$10 million or more. The two countries with the largest cuts in aid to basic education from 2010 to 2012 were India and Pakistan, even though both sit among the top five countries in the world with the most children out of school. Aid to basic education for low-income countries recovered slightly in 2012 compared to the decreases felt in 2011, but levels are still lower than they were in 2010. Twenty-two low-income countries received less aid for basic education than two years before".
Today, the various international news channels highlighted the steady retreat of Iraqi armed forces from various cities in the face of an insurgency by radical tribal-based militias. Some of the analysis invariably focussed on the cost of equipping and training the Iraqi army and how they simply abandoned their posts and equipment, in spite of the billions spent on training them and providing them with the tools to wage war. One military commentator lamented the fact that the army recruits are illiterate for the most part! What irony...placing sophisticated military hardware in the hands of illiterate soldiers and expecting them to defend themselves and innocents with any sense of purpose or plan. And even if they were handed a plan, what value would it have in the hands of soldiers who cannot read?
If we look at the root causes of the issues of gang rape in India, honor killings in Pakistan and the ongoing killings in the CAR and Mali, I'm sure the underlining reasons will also focus on the lack of basic education in many of the perpetrators. If we bring the issues of education lack to our backyards, I'm convinced many of the psycho-social challenges "lie-their-heads" on the pillows of illiteracy too.
We spend a lot of taxpayers' money on education. It is a sector that must succeed, because the cost of civil unrest, murder and mayhem, is too great a price to pay should we fail in our mandate to appropriately skill our future generation of adults!