Big Sergio and his son, little Sergio, in Belize.
I am so lucky to live in a part of the world where my children can have an education.
Living in the developed world, I sometimes forget that education is a privilege, despite my belief that it should be a right for every child in the world.
Greg Mortenson, author of NYT bestseller Three Cups of Tea, is the director of the Bozeman-based non-profit Central Asia Institute (CAI), and has been building schools, particularly for girls, in mountain areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan. As of 2007, he had built 64 schools which provide education to over 24,000 students, including 14,000 females.
I wanted my 15-year-old son Jordan to watch the special on CNN last night where children in Afghanistan and Pakistan were begging for an education. Kids sat cross-legged on dusty desert floors, watching their teacher write on the outdoor blackboard. The concentration and enthusiasm they expressed, was equivalent to U.S. teenagers being offered the latest, most expensive electronic gizmo. When asked what they wanted more than anything, “an education” was their first response.
When we lived in Belize, my three sons spent hours fishing with big Sergio, our caretaker and his son, little Sergio. One evening we had them over for dinner. Big Sergio, only twenty-one said, “You lucky. You go school, get books and computers. I work in sugar-cane fields at thirteen, to help for food. No money for books, only work for food.”
Big Sergio gave my family a gift. No amount of lecturing from me, could ever make my kids understand that in many parts of the world, education is seen as a privilege.
I know they were shocked to hear big Sergio had quit school at thirteen. During the year we spent on Ambergris Caye, my boys showed him how to use a computer and little Sergio how to read and speak English.
What are your views on this topic?
Do you have any stories to share about your kids and education or kids from other parts of the world?
I love that your boys taught big Sergio how to use the computer and little Sergio how to read and speak English. What a great thing for all of them.
I read Greg Mortenson's book some time ago, and was awed by his commitment.
I guess I see education as a necessity. I also believe a lot of education doesn't happen in schools, and a lot of what happens in schools isn't education (except, perhaps, in the crudest form of that word). Your family is loving proof of my contention, even as you recounted this story about Sergio and Sergio, and your sons.
Yes, the unexpected happens when you experience life in a different part of the world.
Thanks Rob-bear for your remarks. You know, I'm embarrassed to say that before I saw this program about Greg Mortenson, I started reading his book and didn't really enjoy the first few pages, so I put it down. Now it's time for me to read it.
Education should be a basic human right for kids! Well, for everyone… girls in particular are often not educated in countries where they are seen as men's property once they get married – e.g. India.
What we in the West need to realize is that although education should be a basic right, it isn't yet – and therefore we are very privileged to be able to take it for granted.
It is so true that many children have to start working instead of going to school. It's sad.
But when I read your title, I thought about my home (Romania), and my gratitude that higher education is free there, unlike US. In India, where my husband comes from, it's the same. Sure, one still is privileged to be allowed by his family situation to just go to school and not start contributing to feed the family. But still, at least at governmental level, education is a right, not a privilege.
Your story is wonderful! It stopped me dead in my tracks and I now look at my kids in a different light. I agree with Rob-bear about education being a necessity. I would love the opportunity to experience that which your family did in Belize.
Thanks for stopping by. I look forward to reading your past posts!
I will also check out Greg Mortenson's book.
I sooo agree with you. Education is a "privilege"!!
The situation in Paraguay is very similar to Sergio´s. Many kids cannot attend school, because the father´s have left the family and they have to help support their family. It is so sad but makes me feel we should appreciate the blessings we have in our lives more!
Craig Glenn says
In regard to your question in Florida. I am by no means the expert. But you might check with Tink who blogs about the coast in that area all the time. I think you will enjoy her blog and she will certainly know more than me.
Here is her link…
Email me if you have a problem with the link.
You expressed the whole "problem" very well in your last paragraph.
I like the idea of higher education being paid for by the government too. College costs out of state in the U.S. are as much as buying a house.
Love your blogger name.
I'm glad you stopped by and look forward to more mutual visits.
From what I've read on your posts, there are indeed many similarities between Paraguay and Belize.
Thanks for sending me the link to Tink. I shall contact her.
Craig Glenn says
You are most welcome, don't forget to tell her I sent you!
I believe that education is a right of all, for everyone deserves the chance to have better than what they once did.
I believe public education in particular is a necessity, because it is all of our best interest that everyone is able to read, which helps you learn, to write, which helps you communication, and to do the other things that only an education can teach you to do.
Jennifer Fink says
Intriguing. I wish we could find a balance b/t working at 13 and institutional learning. There's so much to be learned in the real world, but I guess to access it, you need time.
Jungle Mom says
I think it is a privilege and wish it could be accessible to everyone.
Having lived in countries where the state does 'provide' free education to all, I see that it is not really so!
The problem is that it does cost to provide a quality education, nothing is really free, and what is free is not of great quality.
The buildings are run down, the teachers are over worked, much time is lost due to strikes by staff and students alike, all wanting more for less.
Even here, the real opportunity is in the private sector because, sadly, you get what you pay for.
But wouldn't it be nice if it were available to all and if everyone would make the most of it!
Lady Glamis says
Oh wow, this is so great. We really do take too many things for granted here. I hope I can raise my daughter to appreciate all that we have!
I completely agree that education is so important. It makes for a more peaceful society.
Yes, I wish we could all take the best from each system too.
Sometimes I wish priorities changed and that education became more important than always making a profit.
It does take seeing things from another part of the world sometimes, especially for kids and teenagers.
It should be a fundamental right, no questions asked. But I certainly realize that not everyone is that lucky.
Education is definitely a privilege in India where I come from. Most children don't have access to schools, and even when there are schools, there are no teachers….
And where there are schools, and teachers, girls are often pulled out of schools so they can mind the house while the mother goes out to work, and both boys & girls are pulled out to earn money to keep the fires burning.
And even in a country like this, there are people like me who take education for granted, because it has always been and will always be.
This is what I love about blogging. You get a view from people living in other parts of the world. Thanks for painting the picture in India.
Yes, I too wish it were a fundamental right.
Firefly mom says
It *should* be a right, but all to often it ends up a privilege. While reading your post, I remembered the Oprah episode where she announced that she was opening her school in Africa. Somebody asked her why she chose to do it there, when there were so many kids in the U.S. that went to bad schools. She replied that her original intent HAD been to open one here, but whenever she asked kids here what they "needed", inevitably their replies were things like expensive tennis shoes or Ipods. When she went to Africa and asked the kids what they needed, they replied "an education".
P.S. Thanks for stopping by my blog 😀
Lauri Kubuitsile says
Here in Botswana where I live primary school is free. Secondary school has a small fee, if the family can't afford to pay social workers assess them and the government will pay. University is free to the children who do well on national exams.
Education is the easiest way to a better life. I think it should be a right.
Elizabeth Bradley says
My husband has traveled the globe, specializing in bringing the message of education through the use of technology to developing and third world countries. He tells so many tales of the young ones and their desire to learn. While children here in the U.S. do so poorly on tests, there's no excuse. I blame parents, they just don't seem to care. Education is crucial, and we are not doing a very good job, especially here in California.
I did not see that episode on Oprah, and I'm so glad you brought it up. That says a lot about education in the U.S., even in the poor areas.
Strange how education is free in elementary school and University, with a small fee in secondary school, if parents can afford it.
You are right about parents playing an important role in education. My youngest son, 15. needs to be reminded that his school comes before his passion to paintball.
In short I believe education is a privilege simply based on proximity to the best schools, money available, etc. And even those who can't go to school are taught something by mom or dad or friend etc. All of it a privilege.
As a teacher, I believe education is a privilege, but it is seen as a right by most kids. That's not a problem until kids take advantage of it. I think many people, in general, are wasteful. Many kids waste their opportunities.
This has been on my mind for some time….. it sure raises a few questions..
Beneath the Radar says
I believe the question is "Is education a Privilege or a Right" Higher education in the world and America is a privilege. Not everyone can afford higher education nor do they want it. I do not believe K-12 should be a right. 25 years working in elementary and high schools in the area of Special Education and having gone to school in Europe has taught me that not everyone can participate in what we try to get them to do in order to get a high school diploma. In Europe at age 13 the students have to pass a proficiency test in order to go on to higher education. If they do not pass the test they are steered to choose which profession they want to do in life and are given the education that is needed to complete and preform the job, from electrician to hotel manager. They receive an education for a profession.
I also believe if we used that same system we would remove the acting out population in Middle to high schools because they do not want to be there and would rather be earning a living or at least learning a job skill they could use in life. Instead we have high school and middle school teachers doing battle each day with "I so not want to be her and you cannot teach me anything" students. Instead public schools accept this acting out just to get paid for each student and each year charter schools who are filled with students whose parents are tired of having their children, who want a higher education, being bullied and picked on by the " I do not want to be here" crowd. Charter schools will not put up with acting out or fights and those students are removed from their school. Public School are on the decline and Charter Schools are growing in number.
Education is a privilege for those who want it and work at it. It is not a right and those who do not want it should not be allowed to try and take it away from those who do. Ask almost any middle and high school teacher in the public school system and I am positive they will agree with me.