Books instead of Bombs
Save the Children is an institution which has protected children since 1919. It is the largest NGO in the world and has spent decades “working for quality education in countries affected by conflicts.” The following information comes from this source and the most recent report on monitoring Education which UNESCO published a few days ago. The findings are awful.
*“In the Democratic Republic of Congo* – they explain- *sexual violence is systematically used in the on-going conflict in the country”*. As regards education it adds that *“there are over 2 million displaced people in the Congo and a huge proportion of girls and boys in the affected communities are not attending school. This happens despite the fact that the families living in this situation put the opportunity for their sons and daughters to have an education at the top of their priorities.”*
The Education for Everyone in the World 2011 Monitoring Report, which UNESCO published in March, highlights the fact that half of the 69 million boys and girls who don’t receive education are in countries in conflict. Moreover, it indicates that *“if the international community doesn’t act now, by 2015 the number of boys and girls out of school could be more than double today’s figure.”*
As the report clearly indicates, a potential source of funding which would enable this scenario to be avoided would be to achieve a cut in global military spending. *“If rich countries transferred their military spending for six days to help the development of basic education, they could collect the 16,000 million dollars which they need to achieve the objectives in Education for Everyone set for the year 2015.”*
However, we have to look at the hidden side of the arms trade: military spending is a priority for emerging States: *“21 of the poorest countries in the world spend more on military expenditure than on primary education. In some cases, the difference is far greater: Chad, for example, which has some of the worst education indicators in the world, spends four times more on weapons than on primary schools. In Pakistan, military spending is seven times greater than education spending. If these countries cut their military spending by 10%, they could give more than 9.5 million dollars to schools (the equivalent of a 40% reduction in the population out of education in their countries). The report offers substantial arguments to both donor countries and developing countries to identify the potential to turn unproductive spending on bombs into investments in schools, books and children”*
For those of us who aspire to a World Without War and Without Violence, every day the reason for our support is more evident, our arguments more logical and just, and the need for global disarmament more urgent.
*translation by Kirsty Cumming*