It's not just Taliban bullets that hold back girls' education. Whole governments are at it

Zimbabwe spent $35million on defence this year - and just $5million on education

Share
Related Topics

In a piece for the BBC this week, Gordon Brown called for a “day of action” for Malala and girls’ rights to school.

Brown - who is now the UN’s Special Envoy for Global Education - admits in his article that the world has been misled by various governments and NGOs into believing that progress is being made towards universal education, when in fact 61 million children aren’t receiving an education and 200 million more remain illiterate despite attending school.

As she lies on her hospital bed in Birmingham, Malala Yousafzai must be pleased to learn that her voice is finally being heard.

One of Brown’s proposed measures is that November 10th be declared “Malala and the 32 girls day”, in hope that “we can start to make Malala’s dream come true.”

I support such a move and believe that Malala’s selfless service to others should be honoured. But I’m just not convinced that the concrete problems faced by Malala and other children across the world can meaningfully addressed by setting aside a date on a calendar.

In many countries, government policies on education are holding back progress in much the same way as Taliban bullets – and few are speaking out.

In this year’s national budget the Zimbabwean Minister of Finance, Tendai Biti (a darling of the West) allocated  $35 million for the army (though Zimbabwe is not at war), over $10 million for foreign trips by government ministers and their wives, and only $5 million for education.

In fact, earlier this year the Zimbabwean MDC-ZANU coalition government diverted $90,000 from the education budget to bail out the country’s football association, ZIFA, to pay for hotel bills.

Meanwhile, many Zimbabwean children continue to risk their lives crossing crocodile and snake-infested landscapes to get to South Africa in search of an education. Young girls have been gang raped while making the dangerous journey.

And upon arriving in South Africa they find themselves faced with one of the worst and most dysfunctional state education systems in Africa, in a country regarded as the continent’s wealthiest. South African state education has been plagued by corruption, maladministration, poor teacher training, and an anti-intellectual culture.

The politicians and government officials presiding over collapsing state education systems in countries such as India, Pakistan, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Kenya, and Nigeria are not concerned about providing decent education to their nations’ children - they can afford to send their own to one of the schools in the booming private sector.

Western donor countries that continue to finance such governments are complicit in the educational genocide of poor children across the developing world.

As things stand, poor parents in such countries are often forced to make a very difficult choice between paying for either their son or daughter’s education.  In such cases it is always the sister who loses out in favour of her brother. 

If we are serious about making “Malala’s dream come true”, we should be prepared to make more than just gestures. We should start by recognising that corrupt politicians and government officials who see it fit to spend more of their countries’ resources on the military and trips abroad than education are just as dangerous as Taliban bullets.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

1st Line Technical Support Engineer

£22000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Thame i...

Graduate Project Manager

£25000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsf...

PPA Cover Teacher

£110 - £130 per day + Competitive rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: Pr...

Teaching Assistant Cornwall

£45 - £70 per day: Randstad Education Plymouth: TEACHING ASSISTANTS REQUIRED F...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Daily catch-up: out of time, polling and immigration and old words

John Rentoul
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

Terry Venables column

Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

Michael Calvin's Inside Word

Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past