Keep the Big Picture in Mind

In Uncategorized on May 2, 2007 at 4:48 pm

Just read this article about the current presidential candidates pushing education aid to poor countries…
3 Democrats Suggest Plans for Education in Poor Nations – New York Times

I’m really, really pleased that this is getting some airplay, so to speak. There are a couple of things to keep in mind, though. I’ll preface this by saying that educating the kids at almost all costs should be the goal, but there is a right way to do it; a framework that should be followed, in my opinion.

First – the governments of these countries should be responsible for educating their kids. If we give the money directly to private NGO’s or USAID to build and maintain their own schools with their own curriculum, it does nothing to build the capacity of the host government to handle their own long-term educational needs.

Second – one of the big reasons that kids are so poorly educated is because the governments of these countries are inefficient or corrupt. So – while it’s better to give the educational aid money to the countries, you have to make sure they are spending it correctly, which leads to the need for a concurrent concentration on aiding democracy and governance programs.

So my recommendation would be to concentrate on building the whole capacity of a country to educate its people – a functioning government with the money to pay their teachers, well-built schools, well-trained teachers, supplies, etc. And planning should be for the very long term, like for a whole generation of kids, instead of a quick, politically based surge of aid that goes away after a while.


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