Last night I updated my global “Education” numbers with more recent data (2011!) from the UN’s Development Programme site, and was at first extremely disappointed to see a decline across the board. (I actually had to walk away from the computer for a bit!) However, after closer examination, I realized that the data model I had been using previously (from Wikipedia’s entry on the U.N. Education Index) had been updated to reflect a more ambitious target including secondary education.
I’m still a bit ambivalent about these numbers — I just really didn’t want to see them go down, sometimes by as much as 20% — but am slowly accepting that the higher goal of universal secondary school education is admirable. So, I’m hopeful that, going forward, we will see increases. (Except for New Zealand which is at 100%!) I also want to delve further into these numbers to find out exactly what they mean and how they are being measured. (And if any of my education friends out there have any thoughts or opinions on measuring education attainment globally, I would love to hear them!)
Sometimes, it’s just good to take a step back to get some perspective. In 2008, my friend Alan Locke invited me to go to Uganda to be a part of opening a clinic there that he had helped fund. He had also helped found and supports two schools which provide education to HIV/AIDS orphans, and which currently enroll around 1,000 children, after starting a few years ago in a hut with about 40 kids. (The charity is AROH and you can find out more at the website we’ve created. I will be talking about them more — my Uganda trip was a lifetime of learning experiences!) Anyway, we handed out pencils to the kids (they’re more practical there than pens) and it will always amaze me that, when we went back the next day, a lot of the kids were still holding those pencils — they were like gold because they offered the promise of education and a better life.
So, as much as I worry about the future of the world sometimes, I also remember those kids and their absolute determination to get an education, and that is an encouraging thought.
Thanks for stopping by,