During the past several years, American leaders have urged the Pakistan government to seriously engage the Taliban within its borders. A series of Taliban blunders such as invading provinces they promised not to attack and suicide bombings have resulted in the Pakistan army’s new aggressive actions against their enemy. The Pakistan government has placed a bounty on the head of Baitullah Mehsud, leader of the Taliban in northwest tribal regions. There are also air strikes which have led to claims that dozens of “militants” have been killed. There is evidence the Pakistan army is employing military strategies borrowed from Americans such as bombing villages in which alleged Taliban leaders are residing.
There is no doubt a significant segment of the Pakistan population has grown weary with Taliban excesses such as suicide bombing. But, military action in itself will not destroy the Taliban or other militants. Pakistan needs a powerful economic development program together with one which creates an effective education system that provides for poor children an opportunity to obtain technological skills leading to good paying jobs. Air strikes help, but schools and jobs are much more effective in defeating the Taliban.
Bounties may gain media attention, but as a Taliban commander told a reporter: “We are like a suicide squad. Mujahideen(holy warriors) do not care about head money. Our mission goes on.” Reading and writing and arithmetic will always out bid bounties.
Despite compulsory education laws in Indonesia, latest figures indictae a high percentge of children still are not attending schools, particularly at the secondary level in many parts of the nation. In a recent survey of the country’s 440 regencies and municipalities, almsot half of children between the ages of 13 and 15 were being denied the benefits of a secondary education. Poverty is an important factor but attitudes of parents regarding further education also play a role in fostering non-attendance at schools. Unfortunately, while Indonesia passes laws compelling children to be in school, they do not provide free education, let alone free textbooks and materials for those going.
So many nations which suffer from poverty are unable to provide funding for poor children to attend school. One is left to wonder how nations of the world will spend trillions on the military and be unable to spend a few billion to further the well-being of children.
Dr. Anthony Sheldon told a gathering of British educators it was time to end the system of apartheid schooling which enbles those with wealth to attend institutions which enable children to attend the best universities and therefore secure well paying positions in society. He was particularly concerned about the powerful independent sector of Britih education whose students always attain higher scores on tests and push their graduates into the most outstanding universities. Sheldon emphasized the current system whereby a handful of poor children are plucked from poverty and given an excellent education simply perpetuates the overall dismal showing of most schools servicing the poorer people of society. He asked the independent schools to reach out and form alliances with schools in their area which have many poor children in order to bridge the education gap.
Dr. Sheldon’s words are sincere, but ignore the realities of life. Independent schools might reach out to “help” a school in a poor area, but the enthusiasm of year one will have disappeared by year 3. He ignores the issue is not “helping” but creating a new system of education that will benefit all children and will be tuned into needs of 21st century life. In the 21st century, we don’t need “do-gooders” we need to do good for all.
Rural Turkey continues being the main supporter for those in Turkey who wish to restrain the rights of women. Teachers in southeast Turkey encountered dozens of women who were hiding their daughters in sheds to hid them from teachers seeking to foster the idea of education for women. There is a split among the parents of women in this region, some accept the forces of modernity including the rights of women to an education while others fight against this prospect. Mujhan Sahin, a female teacher from the region commented: “There is a prejudice against women in the region. They should not read, go out or stand on their feet.” She noted this attitude was conveyed to her parents who defied tradition and educated their children. As a result of Ms. Sahin’s efforts, over 20 girls were allowed to attend school.
Ironically, Kurds in Turkey remain the most conservative elements of the population even as many within their ranks fight for the right to belong to the nation of Kurdistan.