Snuggling into the blankets I lay there envisioning different scenarios in my head, hoping that the outcome would be the same. My 10 year old self had decided the night before that I would not be gracing my school with my wonderful presence and I needed to make a compelling case to my mother that would justify my absence. Rubbing my eyes until they were red and droopy I finally got out of bed. Recalling this not so “rare” incident as an adult, I imagine it’s repeated across many households. For the most part education is nothing short of a chore for many children.
Fast forward to 2017 many regions of the world face high levels of illiteracy. In Afghanistan for every 4 women, 3 are illiterate compared to 1 in 2 men. Poverty is no doubt a major contributor to such alarming statistics but the picture is more complex than that. For instance cultural attitudes play a role not to mention gender selection. Some parents make conscious decisions to send their male children to school over their female children. In the western world such attitudes are shocking to many parents who can never imagine choosing one child over another. Does this make parents in developing countries bad parents?
Some parents choose to send the brightest male child in the hope that should they become successful in life they will help lift the rest of the family out of poverty. You may be wondering what becomes of the illiterate children? What becomes of the girl child denied the chance to learn? What becomes of the forgotten children? The answer to that question is dependent on the region of the world.
However make no mistake, illiteracy and deprivation of schooling in children is the breeding ground for child labour, the very evidence of which we wear on our very backs from our favourite high street stores. This is what becomes of the forgotten children; if they are not slaving away in a dingy factory; they are out farming the harsh and unforgiving land.
The sad truth is they have to earn their keep and that of their family. If only my 10 year old self had seen the privilege in going to school. I see it now and my hope is that children would learn that there is a world outside of “them”. “To the uneducated an A is 3 sticks” (A Milne) How privileged are you to be able to read that?