Rectifying Islam: Oppression of the Uighurs

Since the 2009 riots in Xinjiang, the Chinese government has systematically enforced restrictions on the civilian practice of religion. The Communist government, officially atheist, has undertaken a measurable crusade against several major religions, most recently Islam. For Xinjiang’s ethnic Uighur population, this has resulted in a dramatic ban on all religious practices that guide children towards separatism and extremism, including major religious events like Ramadan.

china-muslim

In a recent Independent article, Dearden highlights the flagrant dereliction of justice inherent in China’s practices. The government has called upon the people of Xinjiang to report their neighbors, friends, and family should they take part in “luring minors into religious activities”. This subjective legislation is meant to punish Muslim Uighurs based on unsubstantiated hearsay, the result of which threatens to forcefully remove children from their homes into specialized schools to “receive rectification”. In a departure from previous bans on promoting extremist beliefs and dress, China has taken its first step towards controlling social dimensions of child development traditionally held by parents and guardians.

The notion of removing students from their homes and schools only to be put through a state-controlled rectification process is an eerie thought that could have a transformative effect on the future of schooling in China. Instead of providing a support environment that strengthens community ties and promotes children’s rights to an appropriate education as they see fit, the government has imposed specious legislation to grant themselves total control over the well-being of the Muslim children of China.

Although troublesome, the need to “rectify” Muslim children aligns with recent political trends seen from the problematic super power. The continued efforts to enforce hegemony over their own civilians has the potential to create a devastating quagmire in the field of education specifically. The Uighur people of China’s Xinjiang province are in desperate need of support from the international community, which now has the moral imperative to intervene on their behalf.

Source(s):

Dearden, Lizzie. 2016. China bans parents from ‘luring children into religion’ in Muslim province. Retrieved from http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/islam-muslims-in-china-law-xinjiang-rules-education-children-parents-banned-luring-uighur-a7365351.html

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The Forgotten Ones: The Education of Afghan Refugees

Today, Syrian refugees are being discussed across the globe- the acceptance of Syrians was a major issue in the recent presidential election here in the United States, and their struggle for education in Lebanon and in Europe have been previous blog topics. But within this discourse, Afghan refugees are in danger of being forgotten. Around one million Afghan refugees live in Iran. 1.6 million live in Pakistan. These refugees have differing story-lines; these refugees fled during the war with the United States, and some date back to the Soviet era. Afghans who have lived their entire lives in their host country, are still treated like unwanted, exploited outsiders. Education and integration seem impossible, until the government needs something.

In Iran, these Afghan refugees are suddenly being recruited into the Iranian army, in a revered division called the Fatemiyon. The government needs soldiers to fight in the Syrian civil war, and the Afghans need money and work permits, and access to education for their families. All these are promised to them. In the event of their death for Iran, their families are placed under care of the Martyr Foundation. The surviving family members are granted citizenship. Basic schooling, or access to a university education, become possible.

In Pakistan, the story is similar. In The Pakistan Observer, an opinion piece by an Islamabad lawyer that comes across more as propaganda for Pakistan, brings up an important concept. The Afghans getting scholarships are studying for engineering and medical degrees, and the Afghans who complete their education in Pakistan, go to work for companies in Pakistan or the government. The government of Pakistan has an incentive to treat these particular Afghan refugees well- it invests in their educational capital, and then reaps the rewards. With one and a half million Afghan refugees, the government is only educating refugees by the thousands, refugees that have the skills that Pakistan wants.

The Business Recorder gives an account of a statement by Chief Minister Pervez Khattak where he says that unregistered refugees are a security risk, and that no country should ever want unregistered refugees. But it’s not a discussion based on ethnic conflict. When talking about education in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, he lauds the provincial government for teaching its (Pakistani) students English, for teaching girls to where they are now doing better than boys, for training teachers. The article states that the Chief Minister said he wanted the UN to educate the Afghan refugees because “we want to make them useful citizens to serve their country in a proper manner.”

That is the crux of the matter. The Pakistani government, or the Iranian, want these refugees to be useful citizens who produce for the ruling government and play by its rules. They see education as highly important in this goal, but they are wary of simply giving it out to any refugees who might not want to become a part of the system that educated them.

For more information, look here.

Watch here to view the lives of Refugees in Iran.

Sources:

http://www.brecorder.com/pakistan/general-news/329629-unregistered-afghan-refugees-security-risk-for-khyber-pakthtunkhwa-cm.html

http://pakobserver.net/afghan-refugees/

https://en.qantara.de/content/syrian-conflict-the-price-of-acceptance

Education and The Fight Against a Rape Epidemic in Congo

 

 

The UN has labeled Congo the “Rape Capital of the World. Photograph: Phil Moore/ AFP/ Getty Images

 

The land of Gold and Blood is a befitting portrayal of the paradox of wealth in the DRC, the largest country in sub-Saharan Africa. In this book, authored by Sebastian Muyengo, poverty is mental, human, and structural, rather than predominantly material. Congo’s natural mineral resources are unmatched. The country has vast resources of modernity: rubber for tires, copper, and iron for industry, diamonds, uranium for nuclear warheads and coltan for cell phones. It is also rivaled by few countries in the sheer number of armed groups and youth militias that have claimed millions of lives and raped hundreds of thousands of women. (The New York Times)

The rape epidemic in the Congo crossed the limits of perversion even in a country plagued by cases of drugged-up child soldiers. The United Nations called the DRC “the rape capital of the world” at a time when twisted acts like cutting out a woman’s fetus and forcing her friends to eat it or pulling the trigger of an assault rifle inside a woman’s body were rife and seemingly unstoppable. Today thousands of these women suffer in psychological trauma with very little help from a fractured government overwhelmed by the greed of politicians that have robbed the country blind.

Rape in the DRC has been used as a means of torture. “This type of sexual violence has little to do with sex and much more to do with power through a sort of terrorism.” Denis Mukwege. In 2014, Dr. Mukwege, an expert in reconstructive surgeries for rape victims, was the recipient of the EU’s highest human rights award, Sakharov Prize. After Congo’s second war, he founded the Panzi hospital after witnessing a brutal act of gang rape in his hometown of Bukavu in Eastern Congo. The hospital has been responsible for the treatment of over 40,000 rape survivors.

Dennis Mukegwe chats wth women at his treatment center in Eastern Congo. Photograph, Scott Baldauf

 

There are still numerous challenges in fighting rape in the DRC. The thought of reporting rape for most Congolese women is unthinkable. There are social stigmas and the fear of endangering their lives by reporting cases to the police. According to Dr. Mukwege, the voices of women need to be reinforced and this requires advocacy and education about women’s rights at both a national and international level. Perhaps for the people of Congo, the greater hurdle is to rally the men to become protectors and not destroyers of life

How can education win the war against rape in the DRC? According to Dr. Mukwege, the prevalence of rape culture is rooted in deep ignorance and desensitization that is perpetuated since childhood. “The concept of equality begins in children’s minds with the very first contact. We usually tell girls to dress a certain way and instill fear in them, but we don’t tell boys about how to behave and consequences of bad behavior” he says. Besides his medical work, Dr. Mukwege has in the recent past advocated for the education of men about sexual violence. His work has involved the reintegration of former soldiers into local communities through counseling. (The Guardian)

The children recruited in their teens to become ruthless soldiers are top on Dr. Mukwege’s intervention strategy. The story of an 80-year old woman who was gang-raped as she screamed to her teenage assailants “Grandsons! Get off me!” is a testament to the uphill task that needs to be done. The work of Dr. Mukwege could seem like a vain attempt to rescue the dying flame of humanity in a generation of kids who have been indoctrinated to destroy life physically and psychologically. His strong beliefs have led to organized groups where boys discuss violence and women gather to demand rights and reparations.

References

The New York Times: The World’s Worst War. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/16/sunday-review/congos-never-ending-war.html

Inside Congo’s Rape Crisis.Retrieved from http://www.ibtimes.com/inside-congos-rape-crisis-2095817

Dennis Mukwege: Sakharov Price Winner and Champion of Human Rights. Retrieved from http://www.euronews.com/2014/11/26/denis-mukwege-sakharov-prize-winner-and-champion-of-human-rights

Rape is Used to Terrorize the Population: Says DRC Gynaecologist. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/may/22/rape-congo-doctor-denis-mukwege

Retrieved from https://sojo.net/magazine/septemberoctober-2015/land-gold-and-blood

Between the Lines: Textbook biases, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Growing up, textbooks always represented a bastion of knowledge to me. A physical embodiment of truth. Because the information was on paper, in ink, it carried the weight of permanency that leant itself to true and irrefutable fact. Through high school and undergraduate study, this idea was violently changed; I learned quickly that everything had a purpose and even (sometimes especially) textbooks could have motivations. The final blog subject that I chose to focus on was the outcome of a 2013 study by the United States’ State Department, that analyzed over 150 textbooks from Israel and Palestine, and determined that both sides had severe biases against the other.

This post was inspired by an article in the Los Angeles Times that was informed by the outcome of this extensive textbook study. The results found that the likelihood of extremist statements increased from state funded Israeli books, with a 49% incidence rate, to Orthodox Israeli textbooks with a 73%, to Palestinian textbooks with an 84% incidence rate. The LA Times article was also very supportive of the research methodology, which had a Palestinian and an Isreali professor investigate their own country’s textbooks, then peer-check each other’s findings to eliminate biases. A Yale based researcher oversaw the entire research operation.

The Jerusalem Post wrote about the issue, as well. In their article, as well as in the article by the LA Times, they addressed the fact that, before the findings were published, the Israeli Ministry of Education rejected the study. They believed that Israeli textbooks were so far superior to the book produced by Palestine that any attempt to analyze them as equal was a fallacy and inherently unjust. They also felt that the methodology was biased and may have excluded several instances of bias in Palestinian school media through the method used to select textbooks.

As an integral element of education, educational literature’s biases and shortcomings need to be met head on; it is problematic that both groups painted “the other” so irredeemably poorly, but more so that a ministry of education as important as that of the Israeli government would be so unwilling to admit the need for change. This exchange can be seen, more broadly, as an indictment of the politicization of education material, especially in the context of foreign relations.

Sources:

http://articles.latimes.com/2013/feb/04/world/la-fg-wn-israeli-palestinian-textbooks-unbalanced-20130204

http://www.jpost.com/National-News/Textbooks-show-both-sides-to-blame-for-enmity-302102

 

Separate but Equal? The Two School, One Roof Policy in Action

My last article concerned itself with ethnic and religious division in American schools, and how that division has been exploited by a political demagogue. It is, however, important to note that the United States isn’t alone in its unequal treatment of students. In the former Yugoslav republics of Bosnia & Herzegovina, students of different religions are taught under the same roof, but with significantly divided curriculums.

The subject first came to my attention in the 2014 Boston Globe article, entitled “Bosnia’s Segregated Schools.” The article discussed the concept of “two schools one roof,” a very real segregation policy enacted after the vicious civil war between the three major ethnic groups (Croats, Serbs, and Bosniaks, or Bosnian Muslims) in modern day Bosnia/Herzegovina. The Globe went on to discuss the implementation of integrated classes for the first time in some of these students lives. Many of the subjects taught in school would still be taught in the students’ mother tongues. But the integration program, sponsored by the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe, based off the contact theory of racial integration, hoped to use English as a middle ground to help students discuss difficult topics on an even playing field.

The Balkan Insight article, written in 2016, attests that the integration process hasn’t been successful, and the rights to learning ethnic history, religion, and language of all groups was not being successfully and adequately enforced. The article begins with a plea from local Bosniak groups, saying that their curriculum is being bulldozed by ethnic majorities, and requesting a new, dedicated Bosniak secondary school for their children. The insight that the BI article makes is the connection between political activism and the separate curriculums, as they pertain to student identity.

The political overtones of the ethnic and religious segregation of people within the same state is an eerie and extreme parallel to the difficulties experienced by minority students in our own country. The perceived inequality in both systems is troublesome, and leaves many questions about the political futures of Bosnia/Herzegovina and the United States.

Sources:

http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/bosnia-s-segregated-schools-perpetuate-ethnic-divisions-07-15-2016

https://www.bostonglobe.com/ideas/2014/05/17/bosnia-segregated-schools/P9Z30b1IZRTQz1C0d6jNTJ/story.html

Challenging the Conflict Discourse: Playground Polarization: Trump’s rhetoric, and the effect on youth development

The purpose of this project, initially, was to discover different views and interpretations of similar subjects in the news from differing news sources. As a member of the conflict and post-conflict education group, there have been many interesting and engaging articles about the struggles of students across traditional conflict zones around the world. As Evan described in his article on schools in Chicago, however, conflict zones might not be as foreign as we think. To complicate the matter further, I’ve decided to look at two articles investigating the “Trump Effect” on schools, and the conflict that has arisen from the rhetoric of the now President-elect.

The two articles, one by The Washington Post, the other by Al-Jazeera English, are similar in their subject matter, but, in my opinion, dissimilar in execution. The Washington Post article was a direct response to a more in-depth look at this phenomenon done by the Southern Poverty Law Center in April about the virulence of the political rhetoric in the Republican primary race. The Al-Jazeera piece was written in April as well, and has a deep and nuanced interpretation of the racial and ethnically charged attacks cropping up in schools across the country.

Al-Jazeera’s article was well balanced, and while it was clearly concerned with the safety and well-being of Islamic students and students of color, it pointed out that the rhetoric went both ways, identifying the term “Trump” as a new euphemism for “jerk” among school students. Another triumph of the article was the way in which it identified the vitriol as a travesty of the educational aspect of the political process. In it, the author quotes a source that states this education cycle, as a process for educating the future electorate, has only shown the cycle as a medium for hate speech, intolerance, and oppression.

Both articles frame the classroom as a new conflict area, a place where children are unsafe because of their heritage, appearance, or beliefs. The Al-Jazeera article, however, does a far more compelling job of investigating the ramifications to a future electorate, and the effects we will continue to see from both sides of the political aisle.

Sources:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2016/11/06/the-frightening-effect-of-trump-talk-on-americas-schools/

 

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2016/04/children-scared-depressed-trump-rhetoric-160410090827515.html

Challenging the Conflict Discourse: Horrors of hurricane Matthew

Hurricane Matthew has caused widespread destruction in Haiti, specifically affecting rural areas to the south and isolated areas within the country. The infrastructure in Haiti has been battered by Hurricane Matthew. Haitian hospitals are poorly equipped to deal with the devastation, lacking critical medical supplies. The heavy winds, rain, and flooding destroyed many homes, bridges, and schools. Crop fields have been destroyed and strewn with garbage. Power lines are down, and residents can’t communicate with each other or get the news.

The immediate danger has passed, but there are still lingering questions about the availability of drinking water, medical supplies, and food. International aid is coming, but the aid is looked upon with suspicion. Al Jazeera’s Teresa Bo reports that cholera is a bi07haiti-web2-master675g fear, but many of the town residents report concern over their crops. When an earthquake hit Haiti in 2010, aid programs were heavily criticized for not helping build localized infrastructure. They came in, set up a system that they benefited from, and only temporarily solved the problems, without giving Haitians the necessary resources to fix any problems themselves. The UN peacekeepers, in Haiti after the earthquake, were the ones who brought cholera to Haiti.

Unfortunately, these international aid groups are needed to help the government at this time. Haiti’s current government is an interim government and elections were scheduled for the weekend after the hurricane hit, and have since been postponed. The unavoidable damage of a natural disaster has set back Haiti’s political process again. The government of Haiti wants to effectively govern, and be the relief for its own country. Yet when bridges and roads have been wiped out, as well as hundreds of schools, this is no small task. The New York Times, reporting on many of the same problems as Al Jazeera, contains a very telling perspective: Jean Senozier Despreux claims people died because they didn’t believe the authorities who told them to evacuate. They distrusted the government, and weren’t prepared for the hurricane.

Reuters reports that over 300 schools have been destroyed, and many more have been converted into shelters for those who have lost their homes. Schooling was already a hot-button issue in the upcoming presidential election, which will no longer be held. Expanded access to education has been seen as a way for Haiti to develop itself. Better schooling, from primary education on up, should lead to less dependence on foreign aid through improving the skills of Haiti’s own workforce. Haiti is looking to take the steps it needs to be economically and developmentally independent. When Hurricane Matthew intervened, the discourse surrounding Haiti instead becomes one of self-control vs. foreign control. In the face of a natural disaster, conflict presents itself with many faces. A place that was rebuilding education, politics, and health systems, all gets destroyed in a matter of hours when a hurricane hits. Not only are the people of Haiti struggling for food and their health, but the entire school system that has taken over a decade to build up has been completely wiped out. The primary concern is the health of the people of Haiti, but with over 300 schools wiped out, the education system becomes set back two decades.

For more information on the school crisis in Haiti, look here.

For an overlook on the damage in Haiti, watch this video.

Sources:
Al Jazeera, “Horrors left by Hurricane Matthew become clear in Haiti”
http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/10/horrors-left-hurricane-matthew-clear-haiti-161008094813244.html

Reuters, “Hurricane Matthew closes schools for thousands of Haiti’s children”
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-storm-matthew-haiti-education-idUSKCN12D2WS

NY Times, “Hurricane Matthew makes old problems worse for Haitians”
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/07/world/americas/hurricane-matthew-haiti.html?_r=1&register=google

The Street is Their Home, Their School, and Their Graves

street-kids-murdered-to-clean-up-brazil-ahead-of-the-world-cup

“This picture was posted by the police on their Facebook page, where they bragged about their “successful” work. They say: “We don’t go into favelas to die. We go in there to kill.””

The foundational understanding of basic education in developing countries is that  children are entitled to free basic education. The idea of Universal Primary Education, UPE, introduced as an agreement  by world leaders at the United Nations was supposed to offer free basic education to all children everywhere in the world. That basic education  is something they neither have nor know what it means for their future development, and probably never will till they die. This is a fact of life for street children. They live and die in the streets!

According  to UNESCO, United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization, “many destitute children are forced to eke out a living on the streets, scavenging, begging, hawking in the slums and polluted cities of the developing world “. That statement is partially true –  while they may not beg  in the streets of developed countries, and while the  western press may refer to them as ‘homeless” children instead of “street children”,  the real truth is that these children are not found only in developing countries. They are everywhere –  from the slums of Chicago  article-2117997-1242e2c6000005dc-226_964x637

to the streets of Kinshasa ;  from  Guatemala  to China ,  where more than 60 million children are left behind in rural areas while their parents try to eke out a living working  hundreds of miles away from home. Poverty is usually the main cause but not the only cause for the tragedy which afflicts  these children. In one  such case  four children living under unbearable conditions  the_room_in_bijie__3419474b

left a suicide note for their parents  in a village in south China  before ingesting   insecticide because they could no longer care for themselves. While government reaction in this case  was not reported,  Chinese authorities reacted to the death of five street kids who died trying to warm themselves by burning charcoal in a rubbish bin which sheltered them.

Family abuse  also causes many children to run away from home or be thrown out by parents and relatives. In Kinshasa there is terrible overcrowding in the ramshackle homes where they once lived, causing some parents to throw children into the streets.  7For the more than 150 million street children  the world is a perpetual conflict zone – they are destitute,  scavenge for food, steal, are sexually abused, hungry, tormented, despised, ill treated, cheated if hired, buffeted by wind, snow, sun and rain; and they have no protection from parents or governments, which every child deserves.  Many societies treat these children as outcasts and some  actually eliminate them. In Recife,  a tourist city in Brazil, which draws a million foreign tourists from Europe every year, an electronic sign keeps the daily toll of murders in the city. Most of these murders are committed by the police who in some cases are paid by death squads, business people and property owners to eliminate street children. The New York Times reported  that “extermination groups” cruise the  banking districts of Rio shooting street children at night;  and just last year the United Nations accused Brazilian police of cleaning the streets of Rio de Janeiro to prepare for the 2016 Olympics by killing street children.  While Brazilian authorities continue to defend the police and deny the undeniable, a  UN study  and Public  Security Reports had recorded an increase in homicides. UNICEF found that 28 young people were killed every day in Brazil.

Despite the fact that child rights are explicit in the human rights agenda, street children have remained excluded  from policy priorities and planning. Due to such exclusion  the inauguration of the International Day for Street Children, April 12, every year,  becomes an important organ  for giving street children a voice. Governments the world over have not taken the problems of street children as seriously as the plight of these children deserve. But for the untiring efforts of the Consortium For Street Children, CSC, no one seemed  to care about  street children’s plight, let alone address their basic needs for food and shelter. Education is still a very strange concept for these children. Hopefully the International Day for Street Children will bring more awareness and engender sympathy from world citizens for these children. It is therefore well worth it to delve into the history  of the International Day for Street Children.

Advocacy for street children at the United Nations  and before governments the world over,  has been  primarily carried out by the Consortium For Street Children, CSC,  a network of 37 UK non-governmental organizations. It was the CSC which inaugurated  the International Day for Street Children in 2011 and has been canvassing for the United Nations to adopt the day.  Supporting the work of the CSC and helping convince the United Nations to adopt International Day for Street Children will help tremendously in alleviating the sufferings of street children.

References:

Brooke, J (1993). The New York Times July 24, 1993.  Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/1993/07/24/world/gunmen-said-to-be-police-kill-7-street-children-in-rio.html

Consortium For Street Children,  CSC. Retrieved from http://streetchildren.org/our-work/

CYBERWARZONE. Retrieved from http://cyberwarzone.com/street-kids-murdered-clean-brazil-ahead-world-cup/

Daily Mail, March 21, 2012. Retrieved from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2117997/Making-invisible-visible-Haunting-pictures-Americas-vulnerable-people-shot-photojournalists-poverty.html.

The Independent. Retrieved from http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/death-to-undesirables-brazils-murder-capital-1685214.html

Reuters.  World News Sunday March 13, 2016 Retrieved from http://www.reuters.com/article/us-congodemocratic-streetchildren-idUSKCN0WF096

Telesur. Retrieved from  http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/UN-Brazils-Police-Kill-Kids-to-Clean-Streets-for-Olympics-20151013-0044.html

The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/poverty-matters/2011/apr/12/international-day-street-children-matters

The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/nov/19/children-die-bins-china

The Telegraph. Retrieved from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/china/11824563/The-story-of-Chinas-left-behind-children.html

UNESCO. Retrieved from http://www.unesco.org/new/en/social-and-human-sciences/themes/fight-against-discrimination/education-of-children-in-need/street-children/

University of Wolverhampton Academic Blog. Retrieved  http://www.wlv.ac.uk/about-us/news-and-events/academic-blog/2014/april/12-april-2014-international-day-for-street-children/

A State of Lawless Violence

Recent coverage of the epidemic of violence in the Philippines has exposed the current Presidency of Rodrigo Duterte as a ruthless governing entity à la Adolf Hitler and the National Socialists. Yet lost amid the coverage of political assassinations, death squads, and the systematic cleansing of drug addicts, is the rampant abuse of children.

A recent ABS-CBN interview with Lotta Swylander of Unicef Philippines highlights the results of a Unicef report on child abuse in the Philippines. The three-year study, conducted by over 200 researchers on 4,000 children across all socio-economic backgrounds, indicated “very high” levels of violence against children.

Some key components of the findings:

1) 3 out of every 5 children experience real physical violence

2) 1 out of every 10 children experience sexual violence in the home

3) 26% of boys have been sexually abused by a family member

The impact of this violence on children’s ability to access quality education is immeasurable. A great deal of research suggests that such abuse has a strong negative impact on children’s psycho-social development. Furthermore, educators cannot expect victims of psychological, physical, and sexual abuse to be adequately prepared to learn in school. The report does little to uncover the causes for such dramatic numbers of abuse but points to strict cultural concepts of discipline and the belief that a child is the property of a parent.

The lack of basic rights for Filipino children is made even clearer by the government’s near abandonment of approximately 1.8 million disadvantaged children. An LA Times article, published shortly after the Unicef report, estimates that millions of children are being abandoned by a government who fails to design policy to provide basic needs for children who have been abandoned or neglected. The article outlines the complex and bureaucratic adoption process that deters hopeful parents, the horrid conditions of their orphanages (likening them to concentration camps), and the lack of educational opportunities afforded to disadvantaged children.

Screen Shot 2016-11-06 at 8.59.45 PM.png
A child in the ‘Smokey Mountain’ slums of Manila. Source: Sab, Just One Way Ticket

Although the articles draw upon vastly different themes, they share a similar critique: The Filipino government is making little effort to improve the profoundly debilitating treatment of children and safeguard their most basic of human rights. Widespread violence and neglect have left children of all backgrounds in a subordinate and powerless position while perpetuating the discriminatory cultural perception of children as “property” of their parents. The Philippines need to initiate a fundamental overhaul of their policies to protect and to provide for their children. If the current administration has no intentions of doing so, international intervention is a moral imperative.

References:

ABS-CBN News.‘Very high’ levels of violence against children in PH: UNICEF exec.  May 3, 2016. Retrieved from http://news.abs-cbn.com/nation/05/03/16/very-high-levels-of-violence-against-children-in-ph-unicef-exec

Kaiman, J. & de Leon, S. The Philippines has 1.8 million abandoned children. Heres what keeps many from adoption. LA Times. May 28, 2016. Retrieved from http://www.latimes.com/world/asia/la-fg-philippines-orphans-adv-snap-story.html

Challenging the Conflict Discourse: Not caused by conflict – 70 million uneducated children.

 

10-barriers-to-education-around-the-world-2__1500x670_q85_crop_subsampling-2

There are many barriers  which are unrelated to conflicts such as war, natural disaster, disturbances, and any other types of conflict which have prevented children from going to school in many countries. In   conflict zones throughout the world one can understand the reasons  schools are closed and why students stay out of school;  but in non conflict zones,  barriers  such  as poverty, gender discrimination, challenging geographies, untrained or no teachers at all,  and lack of educational facilities and supplies are impediments which have kept about 70 million children out of school. Some of these barriers are more pronounced in poor countries. Children living in north-east Africa, for instance,  are “the least likely to receive a good education” somli-children-in-a-camp-006      In some of these poor countries there are communities which have no schools at all, or the nearest schools are not within walking distances. Then there is the teacher problem as well – in some of such neighborhoods there are no teachers; or in some cases untrained or poorly trained teachers.  Lack of funding for providing classrooms 10barriers3    have spotlighted the major barriers to schooling, but it is not the only deterrent to schooling in non-conflict zones. Children with disabilities, gender discrimination, and household poverty are also barriers to education for many youngsters in many countries. 10barriers5   Some of the world’s 93 million children with disabilities have faced obstacles and have been denied schooling. Though advances have been made in educating girls,  more than 100 million young women are illiterate, denied opportunities for schooling simply because they are of the “wrong” gender in many societies. Some families are so poor that they cannot afford a single good meal per day. Unfortunately, in many of these poor countries the rich and  economically well-placed  care more about their children’s education  10barriers2    than they care about giving average education to poor kids

It is not only in the developing or underdeveloped world that young people are facing obstacles to basic education. Some very rich, very technologically advanced and developed countries have placed undue burdens to schooling upon their young and innocent citizens. In the United States for instance, 23 schools  were closed by Philadelphia’s state- run school commission in 2013 due to budget deficits. In the same year the Chicago Board of Education engaged in “the largest mass school closing in American history” by closing 49 elementary schools. The central arguments for closing schools in metropolitan U.S cities are usually based upon declining student enrollments and poor performance. While it may be true that students who are dispersed to other schools,  when theirs are closed,  do better academically, there is no denial that these students and their parents face inconveniences of relocation. One major drawback in reporting school closures is the assumption that all students so displaced will transfer 100 % to other schools. I have found no research to support this assumption, and no author has supplied any statistical data on the number of students who fail to transfer to other schools.

While barriers such as poverty, gender discrimination, and challenging geographies have kept children from poor developing countries out of school, children from developed countries like the United States have suffered only the inconveniences of relocating to other schools. Certainly children living in north-east Africa, for example, would gladly trade places with kids in Chicago or Philadelphia if they had the opportunity to walk many miles to school and from school. 70 million children out of school because of poverty, gender discrimination or inhospitable geographic conditions is a problem that can and should be addressed not only by the developing countries concerned, but by developed countries also. There is no better way to seek equitable distribution of world resources than in giving all children in the world equal opportunities to basic education.

 

References:

Cohen, R. M. (2016). ALTERNET, April 22, 2016. Retrieved from http://www.alternet.org/education/devastating-impact-school-closures-students-and-communities

Global Citizen, June2, 2014. Retrieved from https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/10-barriers-to-education-around-the-world-2/

Shepherd J. (2010) The Guardian, September 20, 2010. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/education/2010/sep/20/70m-get-no-education