You have probably heard the story before, Medellin, Colombia was the home to the infamous drug boss Pablo Escobar. The city was riddled by crime and a thriving drug trade. Meanwhile, a rebel group known for kidnappings, trading drugs and terrorizing Colombians situated itself in the mountains in the vicinity of Medellin. A 1988 article in TIME Magazine declared Medellin as the most dangerous city.
Things began to change when Escobar was killed in a firefight with the Colombian National Police. However, fighting continued, the government remained corrupt and the drug trade chugged along. Enter a University of Wisconsin trained mathematician and an idea to revitalize the city with libraries.
Sergio Fejardo led a group who wanted to transform the city. The way to do it? Build a coalition of support and take the most important position in the city, mayor. So, Fejardo set on to build a grassroots campaign that culminated in an electoral victory in 2003 and the assumption of the mayors office at the start of 2004.
He started with three problems to solve: inequality, violence and corruption. Continue reading →
Malala has for years been speaking out in Pakistan against the Taliban’s prohibition on girls’ education. On Tuesday, the Islamists shot her in the head and neck, also wounding several other girls on a school bus. According to the BBC, Malala has so far survived and after surgery to remove the bullet from her head is in stable condition.
The Taliban has already threatened to attack her again with the aim of killing her for her public support of girls’ education. Here is a short documentary the New York Times did a few years ago on Malala Yousafsai and her family:
So Thursday is the day the world is supposed to stand up for girls. Seattle is already pretty big on promoting “girl power” here and around the world.
Many of our local humanitarian organizations specifically work on empowering girls and young women. There was the big “Girl Up” push a few years ago. Global Washington recently sponsored an event called Stand for Girls that brings together a number of organizations working on girls and women’s issues. On Thursday, the Gates Foundation and other members of the Northwest Girls Coalition are sponsoring a number of local events to mark the United Nations’ first International Day of the Girl.
But honestly, these kind of theme days come and go, with varying levels of success when it comes to truly gaining public attention and interest. Simply calling something World (fill-in-the-blank) Day is of debatable value. Today is World Mental Health Day, for example. The practice of proclaiming a day to ‘raise awareness’ for some cause or issue has become so common that now every single day of the year now marks something, or several things.
So maybe we should make this first International Day of the Girl about keeping our eye on just one very brave girl who is on the front line fighting for this cause. Let’s make it about Malala.
Washington state is big on international trade, the largest exporter per capita in the U.S. with about one in three jobs linked directly or indirectly to international commerce. We are indeed a globalized state.
We constantly hear that our educational system today should be geared toward keeping the U.S. “internationally competitive” in the global economy. Folks attending a Wednesday Seattle Chamber of Commerce event on education and the workforce will likely hear it again.
But what often gets left out of this mantra is that you can’t really compete in the world if you don’t understand it.
“What we need is a new way of thinking,” said Bookda Gheisar, executive director of Global Washington, which as part of its mission to strengthen Washington state’s efforts in global development and international affairs is now targeting education.
The Global Education Initiative is an effort launched a year ago by Global Washington in collaboration with leading academic institutions, educators, policy experts, business leaders, non-profit organizations and major manufacturers like Boeing or Microsoft aimed at coming up with a consensus strategy for improving global education in the region. Continue reading →
Raising the ratio of girls to boys in education was one of the eight millennium development goals agreed by world leaders in 2000. But despite 10 years of commitments – and progress in some regions – closing the gap remains a significant challenge.
Afghanistan retains over time the dubious distinction of having the most inequitable education in terms of gender disparity.
The interactive map allows review for both primary and secondary education. As The Guardian’s Claire Provost notes in a separate article today, the needs for improvement on secondary education (in general, not just in terms of gender parity) are especially acute in Africa. Says Provost:
Two thirds of African children are effectively locked out of secondary school, according to a new UN report which cites secondary education as one of the next great development challenges facing many of the world’s poorest countries.
I’ve written a lot on Humanosphere about how young people, aka the Millennials, are especially interested these days in trying to make the world a better place. It is definitely a phenomenon.
Last night, at a small gathering in a Queen Anne home, I met some young women from Rwanda who are among those trying to make Rwanda a better place — helped by another young Millennial, American Elizabeth Dearborn Davis, who moved to the central-east African nation to start a girls school.
Rwandan student Allen Kazarwa talks with Sharon Woolf at Seattle fund-raiser for Akilah
“When you tell people you are from Rwanda many just think of the genocide,” said Allen Kazarwa, a 20-year-old student at the Akilah Institute for Women (yes, it’s spelled Allen, not Ellen). Continue reading →
Next week, Bill Gates will help publicize the release of a new movie (in which he’s also featured) about the crisis in education called “Waiting for Superman” — directed by the same guy who made “An Inconvenient Truth.”
Education reform is big on the Gates Foundation agenda and is key to development here at home.
My fellow NPR blogger Tina Barseghian, who covers education, wrote about it on her blog MindShift noting that Gates will be among those appearing on Monday’s Oprah to discuss the documentary.
The LA Times said Gates provides “the film’s most newsworthy moment” because of his promotion of the charter school idea. An editorial in the Toronto Star takes exception to the idea.
I saw the trailer and I’m already hooked. No matter where people stand on education reform, I bet this movie is going to be a big hit. (It may not win anyone the Nobel Peace Prize, however.)
It’s perhaps no surprise to find that better-educated mothers do better at improving the health of their children, but it may surprise some to see how much of a difference this can make — and that it matters much more than economic gain.
Child Mortality vs Maternal Education, Nicaragua
Between 1970 and 2009, mortality in children under age 5 dropped from 16 million to 7.8 million annually worldwide. Seattle researchers who studied this phenomenon in 175 countries report today in the Lancet that more than half of this reduction in child mortality (51 percent) can be attributed to improvements in education among women of reproductive age.
To the right is just one of their “scatterplots” for Nicaragua (go to their paper to get more info re the details) showing quite dramatically how child mortality plummets as maternal education rises — even if GDP per capita declines. Continue reading →