Small Streams

Some Good News
January 1, 2007, 11:54 am
Filed under: education

Here’s some good news to start the year, an article in the New York Times about the increasing demand for education in sub-Saharan Africa.

Nearly 22 million more students flooded classrooms between 1999 and 2004, increasing the enrollment rate by 18 percent, more than any other region of the world, according to Unesco. More than 6 out of 10 primary school-age children are now enrolled — and that does not include older students, like 14-year-old second graders, who have also streamed into schools.

Not since the 1970s has sub-Saharan Africa made such strides.

I have no idea what effect it will have on whole, but I have to think it will be better than an oil boom, genetically modified rice, or a C.A.R.E. package.

As I reflect on those old Feed-the-World commercials from the ’60s and ’70s, I think what a horrible model of feeding the world they provided. What was it? Big trucks bringing gallons of gruel into a half-acre mass of people. What better way to show that these people were a inarticulate horde. What better way to show that Western wealth is a pipeline, and all we have to do is turn on a spigot. And that gruel, that white pasty stuff with some kind of grain in it, I never did find out what it was. Perhaps the whole truck scene was some kind of emergency famine relief. If so, fine. Unfortunately, I think it illustrated the key paradigm in the way we thought about and worked with poor and developing countries. Out with the gruel in with the slate.

Anyway, good news. Happy New Year!

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