In some cultures, it is difficult if not impossible for disfigured women to marry. Yet the schoolgirls of Afghanistan continue to study, even under the threat of further disfigurement, harm to their families and even death.
In some parts of Afghanistan, there are schoolgirls who bear a distinct and unintentional badge of honor: Their faces are scarred from acid, the result of defying stone-age religious fanatics who go ballistic at the mere thought of a woman knowing how to read.
Because of the Taliban, a nation that once prized itself on an educated populace is falling so far backward that it could take them a generation to recover.
Sneakers and iPods
It makes you wonder why we have to beg, cajole and “reward” some children and young adults to keep them from dropping out of school.
When Oprah Winfrey was flayed for opening a school for girls in South Africa, she responded that she was tired of being peppered with requests for sneakers and iPods by American kids.
In other parts of the world, people have figured out what some Americans have yet to understand: Education is the world’s most valuable commodity.
The girls of Afghanistan don’t have the time or the luxury to be expelled from school for fighting or savaging one other’s reputations through Twitter and Facebook. They don’t aspire to emulate celeb-u-tarts who barely can read.
According to UNICEF, less than 1 percent of what countries spend on weapons is enough to fund an education for every child on the planet.
More than 121 million children of school age are not enrolled in school, not because they don’t want to be, but because they either can’t afford it or their countries lack an adequate educational system.
We see what happens to countries where half the population goes uneducated, yet according to a new report “When Girls Don’t Graduate,” by the National Women’s Law Center, half of the 1.2 million high-school dropouts in the Class of 2007 were girls. It also predicts that one in four American girls currently in school will not earn a regular high school diploma.
Third-world children have every excuse at their disposal: Generational poverty like no American has ever seen, infant mortality, endless war, famine, disease unprecedented corruption. Yet when given even the chance, these children not only thrive, but excel in the classroom. What’s ours?
During last week’s presidential inauguration, some in the crowd booed when former President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney were introduced.
One heckler was even heard yelling “let him go!” at the sight of a wheelchair-bound Cheney.
What you may not have heard is that many more in the crowd were asking the hecklers to stop. Technically, Bush was still president when the heckling occurred. As such, he deserved basic courtesy and the respect the office commands.
Reach Charita Goshay at email@example.com.