What about the children, Tony?

Former British Prime Minister (and Bush’s poodle) Tony Blair wrote in the Washington Post

Ending global aid in a generation

I believe that within a generation no country need be dependent on aid. This matters around the world but especially to Africa, the continent most dependent on aid and a focus of my own work.

In just one example, 10 times more people were receiving treatment for HIV-AIDS from 2003 to 2008 than was the case a decade earlier.

Ultimately, development progress depends on governance and growth. All societies, no matter how wealthy, need governments that can deliver tangible improvements in the lives of their citizens and be held to account for the results.

What about the children, Tony? You mentioned health, you mentioned governance, but you skipped over education and communication. As Kofi Annan pointed out in his Digital Challenge to Silicon Valley in 2003, new technologies will allow developing countries to leapfrog over the stages that other countries had to go through.

Now, computers that cost less than printed textbooks permit improving education while lowering costs. Countries from Bangladesh to South Korea are digitizing their textbooks, while others write new textbooks integrating software into the curriculum. UNESCO and others have announced plans for digital universities using Open Education Resources, and some are working on a similar initiative for primary school education. This includes Sugar Labs, the Free Software and OER arm of One Laptop Per Child, whose stated goal is ending poverty by giving every child the qualifications for jobs in the global economy.

But they will get more than jobs. The kids will get to talk among themselves–eventually a billion of them at a time–and form partnerships for business, civil society, or whatever else they find to be worth doing. It is their job, as it has been in every generation, to take over the world. Between education and cooperation I think they have a chance to do a better job of it than we have done. But it is not enough to hope so. We must do the work to make it so.


About mokurai

Generalist; End poverty at a profit for all
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