Pink Floyd got it wrong: Children are educated for life

Children at this primary school in Mutomo, Kenya, are faced with deep challenges, including a lack of ample desks and writing surfaces, which forces students to write with books on their knees. (Lucy Murunga/WV)

Editor's note: This is the second of four posts that will relate to World Vision's child well-being aspirations.

Aspiration #2: Children are educated for life

When I was a kid in high school in England, a rock band called Pink Floyd released a hit single called “Another Brick in the Wall.” I still vividly remember the lyrics …

We don't need no education
We don’t need no thought control
No dark sarcasm in the classroom
Teachers leave them kids alone
Hey! Teacher! Leave them kids alone!

I’m not sure whether my rather strict geography teacher, Mr. Clift, was familiar with the song, but I’m certain he would not have approved. Whenever we grumbled about homework or school in general, he would maintain that many children around the world would give their right arm to go to school — if only they had the opportunity to do so.

While I personally didn’t embrace the level of disdain for education that Pink Floyd seemed to have, I couldn’t help feeling that Mr. Clift must be exaggerating. After all, school meant getting up early in the morning, it meant hard mental labor, and it meant nerve-wracking exams. Wouldn’t it be a lot nicer to get up late, kick a football around, and then come in and watch TV? If there were no school, life would be one long, permanent holiday. Yippee.

Ahh, the naivety of youth. Thirty years later, I now know that Mr. Clift was absolutely right. Having traveled to many parts of Africa and Asia with World Vision, I’ve discovered that children are indeed prepared to sacrifice almost everything to go to school.

Boloztuya (center) with friends at World Vision Lighthouse, an informal education center for children in difficult circumstances. (Justin Douglass/WV)

Getting an education is perhaps the one chance they have of escaping a lifetime of crippling poverty and perhaps exploitation. Naturally, it’s much harder to exploit an educated person. They tend to know their rights, are economically independent, and know how to get hold of a good lawyer.

So children walk long distances to go to school and are prepared to endure the most atrocious facilities once they are there. Take a look at the main photo for this post of a school in Mutomo, Kenya. How would you like to study there?

To think that my school had university-educated teachers, temperature-controlled classrooms, desks, chairs, a library, a gym, an assembly hall, a swimming pool, and a myriad of other facilities. And all the while it did not ever occur to me to thank God or anybody else that I had been so wonderfully blessed.

The one thing that helps salve my conscience a bit is that I now work for an organization that pulls out all the stops to ensure that disadvantaged children get the chance to go to school. And the nice thing about it is that the children who benefit really appreciate it.

I’ll never forget meeting 14-year-old Boloztuya — a girl who spent a lot of time on the freezing streets of Mongolia’s capital, Ulaanbaatar, in a bid to escape beatings from her drunken mother. I wrote about her in the autumn 2007 issue of World Vision Magazine. Boloztuya did not want to talk much about her home life, but she was delighted to be able to tell me that she had recently learned to read and write, thanks to a World Vision informal education program. And through her learning, she had acquired a taste for poetry and a vision of a brighter world. I can imagine that in Boloztuya’s world, she wouldn’t sing along to Pink Floyd. Instead, she quoted to me one of Mongolia’s most famous poets, Dashdorjiyn Natsagdorj.

To the north mountains adorned with forest
Boundless, golden, shimmering blue priceless Gobi

Leading to the south oceans of shifting sand
This is my birthplace
Mongolian beautiful country

Read related posts:
Child well-being aspiration #1- A kick in the ribs: Children enjoy good health
Child well-being aspiration #3- A time to dance: Children experience love of God and their neighbors
Child well-being aspiration #4- Why registration matters: Children are cared for and protected


    "And all the while it did not ever occur to me to thank God or anybody else that I had been so wonderfully blessed."

    This has me thinking... Thank you.

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