Hands up if you liked school? What’s that? Not many hands? If you didn’t fancy school that much, chances are you’re from a comfortable westernised country where school is taken for granted and hating it is the norm. And why not? Go ahead, fill your boots – hating school as a kid is like a right of passage.
But, just for a second, imagine this: what if school was taken away? What if you, as a female, for example, were told that, because of your gender, school was not an option? Or imagine if your country were thrown into a brutal war and for your children, say, school was impossible to attend, in fact, even day to day normal living was nearly impossible and the only option you are left with is to flee your homeland to search for the safety of another. Only to be told to go away.
Today is International Literacy Day and in the wake of the European refugee crisis, the poignancy of literacy and the opportunity it provides has never seemed more relevant. Literacy, see, comes through schooling, but not all children have the chance to attend school. Syria’s oppressive regime, war and economic sanctions, have meant many children are denied what we here see as a right: the right to education. And take Malala Yousafzai, the young girl who was shot in the head by Taliban gunmen just for going to school.
We owe it to these children to have a better outlook, here in the west, on education, to regard the opportunities we have with respect and truly understand that, what we take as regular, normal – boring even – others see as the pinnacle of what life is about: ambition, learning, literacy. A chance, basically, at a good and full life.
So today on International Literacy Day let’s all pause to think about those children – boys & girls- who through violent war, oppression and economic strain cannot attend school. And how different it is to our own lives. And how damn lucky we are.
What do you think? Join in and comment below.