Monday, May 11, 2009

Millennium Development Goal #2 - by John G. Miers

Millennium Development Goal #2
Achieve Universal Primary Education

"Jesus said to them,
'Let the little children come to me;
do not stop them;
for it is to such as these that
the Kingdom of God belongs."
- Mark 10:14

Achieving Universal Primary Education will be a long process. It will be a very long process and all-encompassing task, an extremely complicated one that has many layers of problems, kind of like an onion!

Each of those four words – “Achieving,” “Universal,” “Primary,” and “Education” – is hard and is important. Each builds on the other three. Each can be done by itself, but the whole will be much stronger than the sum of the parts, which is why this goal is made up of all four.

But it will be an investment – one that will pay off handsomely; not for many weeks or many months or even over many years, but the payoff will be seen for generations into the future.

It will not be easy….we will have to do it differently in different places, and we will have to keep at it, and keep at it, and keep on keepin’ on. That means that we also need to convince people and their leaders that it will be worth doing. There is one other piece of the provision of education that many people don’t see in their first glance: We also need to be concerned about many other aspects of education provision, too, such as food for lunches and breakfasts, facilities for schooling, and health care so that people can be schooled– this even required eyeglasses and laptop computers. There is also the need to train people to be the teachers. And to be the teacher’s teachers. Yes, a large system is required. It is both expensive and complicated, and it must be widespread.

Yes, education not just for little children, but for all people. Everyone needs it at least once. Some need to catch up, but everyone needs to be trained, both to ensure that they live well, and so that they see the value of education. Notice the second word “universal.” A parent who is educated, and has discovered the value of such education, will be much more inclined to ensure that his or her child will also be educated. An educated adult will help ensure that education is available.

Is primary education enough? Probably not, but we have to start somewhere, and, as noted above, once you get someone convinced on the value of education, they will probably do their best to go beyond merely the primary level.

The title of this MDG is “Achieve Universal Primary Education.” Is “Achieve” the right word? Probably not, but we have to start somewhere.

John Miers is from Bethesda, Maryland, where he was employed at the National Institutes of Health from 1968 to 2005. He serves on the board of St. Luke’s House, a halfway house for persons recovering from mental illness and also serves as Jubilee Officer for the Diocese of Washington. He was a member of National Commission on Science, Technology and Faith for the Episcopal Church and is active in his local church, where he is in the choir, worship committee, pastoral care committee, and the prayer team, and he also visits patients in a local hospital on behalf of the Chaplain.