Friday, October 29, 2010

Not-so-rhetorical questions

My mom forwarded me a NYT Op-Ed from Monday's paper. Naturally, I just now got around to reading it. This particular article was simultaneously heartwarming and cause for thought. Nicholas Kristof wrote again about Dr. Greg Mortenson's effort to build schools for girls in Afghanistan. More than that though Kristof implied that education will be an important component to ensuring peace and stability in a country that has known neither for a while now.

So if education is powerful enough to break through barriers that even the United States military cannot break, what happens when education becomes neglected? If education can change the face of a country and perhaps even increase its security and prosperity, will those same things suffer if education is not given the sense of urgency it requires?

I ask because once again I am grappling with the fact that what will be the future ruling class of Egypt, approaches education the same way a 5 year old approaches cough syrup - with protest and disdain. Perhaps I am being naive and overly idealistic in the face of what is surely a universal teenage reflex. But if not, is this a subtle yet ominous sign of things to come?

1 comment:

  1. you blame the united states military for failing to break down the "barriers" to peace and stability in afghanistan. the u.s. military is itself - by definition, by its actions, and by its mere presence - a barrier to peace and stability in the country and the region.

    i don't know what reasons the article gave for why education is so central to building peace and stability in afghanistan. probably something to do with decreasing the tendency towards extremism, among other things. either way, i would be careful trying to export that relationship. nations with relatively higher levels and more widespread educational attainment can be quite belligerent. the united states is one glaring example, as they are almost constantly involved in a conflict. just because it doesn't happen on u.s. soil doesn't mean that they are a peaceful nation. nations with relatively low educational attainment can be quite stable. perhaps egypt can be used as an example. having the same president for 30 years seems pretty stable to me. not to mention they haven't been directly involved in a conflict in that time. one could even make the argument that increasing education is one of the reasons for the current (potential) instability. (i admittedly know very little about the history of education in egypt). israel probably has a better education system than egypt. would you say that they are more stable or secure?

    education is certainly important if you want to have a prosperous nation, by today's standards (GDP?). isn't the entire reason for modern education so that people can go out and be "productive" members of society? then again, educated people tend to ask for rights and stuff, which can really get in the way of certain other people's prosperity.....

    things like peace, stability, and security are surely related to education levels somehow, but they are also so subject to outside forces that it's hard - at least for me - to draw such ominous conclusions from the disdain of a handful of rich egyptian teenagers.

    but maybe i should go back and read the article that spawned this reflection....

    ps - i wanted to leave a fake name of a famous dead person as a red herring, but your blog made me sign in. i dislike that.