Education is key.
If we really want to turn countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria (or any number of developing countries rife with war) into modern democracies where all people are treated equal – we need to focus on educating the population. Period. Focus squarely on the minds of the youth.
As it stands today, their behavioral and moral influences are fundamentally religious parents and their village/tribal elders (equally strict, if not more so). This is not a post to attack religion. This is a post to point out that there are these young, fertile and curious minds in small rural villages and huge urban theocracies around the world who only know the things they are told by their elders whom they respect.
They have limited access to education.
The education they may have access to is lacking in the fundamentals of modern knowledge about our world and how it functions.
Scientific things such as:
- climate science
- microscopic life forms
- how germs spread
- basic sanitation and healthcare principles
- basic biology and chemistry
- basic aerodynamics (What is lift and how does it affect how a plane or a bird fly?)
- how sexual reproduction works
- birth control
- how gravity works
- what the water cycle is
- how clouds are formed
- how magnets work
- what an earthquake is
- what causes waves
- why the seasons change
Not to mention topics related to human history and cultural development:
- Gender equality
- Ancient history (an understanding which leads to understanding how all cultures developed)
- Modern history
- The British conquest of the world and the cultural impact on the colonies (and native populations)
- WW1 and WW2 – the effect on society, industry and culture
- Industrial revolution
- Universal suffrage
- the principles of what a modern democracy is and how it evolved
This is all pretty basic information that any intelligent person in the West takes for granted. Before seeking a solution to how to bring a peaceful, democratically elected government to some of the most un-refined places in the world; we need to understand the base of knowledge that is receiving our cries for individual freedom and democracy for all.
These are not people who understand these basic facts about our world and our species. These are people who ask the local preacher for an explanation to questions they themselves cannot answer.
We show up in largely uneducated Islamic countries shouting about freedom and democracy; but what do they hear?
Imagine a young Afghan boy asking his fundamentalist preacher what ‘democracy’ means.
Upon pondering this hypothetical; we must first ask ourselves:
- Would his answer be favorable or accurate?
- What resources does this boy have to check the validity of the answer he received?
- If he sought another answer; what would happen to him if he was caught?
- If he found another answer; what would happen to him when he brought this to his preacher?
- What would happen if he started sharing this new information with his friends, parents or neighbors?
- What if he started sharing this information loudly and publicly?
In my humble opinion; if we as a society could do one thing that would benefit children all around the world – it would be to educate everyone. Adults are a lost cause. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks – as it is said.
We CAN reach the youth.
STEP 1: Acquire thousands of tablet computers and USB flash drives (at least 32GB drives)
STEP 2: Acquire a solar charger for each tablet
STEP 3: Load every single Bill Nye the Science Guy episode on to each tablet (because we all know where we really learned about the water cycle)
STEP 4: Load copies of Rosetta Stone on each tablet (http://www.rosettastone.ca/)
STEP 5: Load as much as will reasonably fit of National Geographic magazine (http://www.nationalgeographic.com/)
STEP 6: Load every single episode of The Nature of Things with David Suzuki (http://www.cbc.ca/natureofthings/)
STEP 7: Randomly load Western TV shows on the flash drives. Everything from Mork and Mindy to Breaking Bad. Any assortment of full seasons; no two flash drives need be the same.
STEP 8: Have western planes air drop these tablets all over the developing world; all over Africa and Asia; all over North Korea and anywhere where education is being held hostage by morally-defunct governments or by difficult economies.
Do the same with the flash drives in areas where some people have some access to computers but the information that they can access is highly restricted.
Give them access to our culture of freedom and equality; a glimpse through a dusty window. A fragment of hope wrapped in the knowledge that there is a better way.
HERE IS HOW I KNOW THIS WILL WORK
- Check out one.laptop.org
- Check out this news article (http://bit.ly/S4P0vY) about this actually working
This theory of educating in remote and impoverished areas has worked. It is repeatable and scale-able. My interpretation is simply a little more aggressive.
“Never be a spectator of unfairness or stupidity. Seek out argument and disputation for their own sake; the grave will supply plenty of time for silence.”