We should spend more on Education!!

malawi-28-sept-2007-016.jpg
Harisen’s mail and pics from Mzuzu today had an added bonus pic.
From this distance I feel so sad, although when I get out there on Oct 24, I know we can motivate the community to inprove things.
Harisen writes:
John,
On my way back from Mzgola, I came across this school.
The name of the school is Luvuwu Primary School.
It has 251 pupils; class one up to class seven only.
Two qualified teachers, Ison Ntambo on the picture who is also a head teacher, and Penjani Kaira.
They also have two volunteers who come at their own wish as said by the head teacher.
Names of volunteers are Lodrick Mlungu and Maria Chipeta.
Regards
Harisen.

At this moment I am listening to one of my favourite singer/songwriters Karine Polwart, an answer maybe
http://www.myspace.com/karinepolwart : Click on Better Things.

Maybe it’s an evening for a Rant, but Karine does it so well that I’ll let her tell you about the song Better Things

Sunday, February 25, 2007

NEW DEMO AND RANT: BETTER THINGS

Imagine you have your own country to run with a surplus budget of around £25 billion to spend on making it a better, safer, happier place for its people. What could you do with it? Well, in Scotland you could train and employ 120,000 new nurses every year for ten years or 60,000 teachers every year for twenty years. You could create vast new areas of employment for scientists, engineers, construction workers and planners to create free low environmental impact public transport networks or ingenious high-tech sustainable alternative power sources that drastically reduce our contribution to global warming.

What would you do?

Well, the current British Government and the main Westminster opposition parties appear determined to sanction the use of no less than £25 billion over the next two decades to develop and build a new generation of Trident nuclear submarines and missiles in the alleged interests of our national security. The current Trident fleet of four submarines, based at Faslane on the River Clyde, holds sufficient missile warheads, each ten times more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb, to obliterate the whole of Europe. But it’s all going to stop working around twenty years or so from now, the Government warns us, so we need to start the job of replacing it with something better.

What does “better” mean here?

The point, after all, we’re told, is not to actually use these weapons, but to possess them in order to prevent their possible future use by others. At least, that used to be the logic. In reality, our Government’s policy now, by the back door, contemplates for the first time the possible first strike use of nuclear weapons as tactical instruments of war. We’re not just talking about deterrent here. And in any case, as far as deterrence goes, deter whom precisely? Even the Government’s own defence strategists predict that the major threat to the national security of Western Europe and North America (apart from our own collective impact on the environment) in coming years is likely to come not from stable but hostile nation states, but from independent cross border networks with their own agendas and methods. I’m not sure why exactly such fluid and self-contained organisations or cells, populated by those for whom, it seems, death is no deterrent, should be worried by our own nuclear weapons. Except, of course, that the likelihood of them obtaining their own is increased.

But this is all pragmatic talk, of course, these questions of funding priorities and the effectiveness of military strategies. Bottom line, how can it be wrong to use WMDs but okay to own them and threaten to use them? Notwithstanding that many of the weapons we own that don’t even count as official WMDs, are destructive enough as it is on the ground if you’re on the receiving end …

The progress of Iran’s nuclear programme brings a tiny sliver of this issue to the top our international news this weekend. But when I hear someone talking about that elite wee club called “the recognised nuclear powers” it makes me ask: “Recognised by whom?” All that recognition means is, “We’re the ones who got there first” and “We don’t want you in our club”. It doesn’t seem to me like a defensible ethical or tactical position.

The core problem of all technological development, of course, is that almost every beneficial advance to human understanding or medical science gives birth to its own nemesis. But that’s not a technological problem. It’s a problem of ethics, politics, human psychology and imagination. How about more money, time and energy spent on that too?

On Thursday night I performed at a Bin The Bomb Roadshow event in the lovely St John’s Episcopal Church on Princes Street in Edinburgh. It was part of a week-long series of events campaigning against the commissioning of a new nuclear weapons programme by the UK Government, which culminated in a mass rally in George Square in Glasgow yesterday. For a writer who’s supposed to be engaging in social and political issues I confess it’s been some time since I’ve felt involved or engaged in an active campaign for or against anything. That whole business of the Iraq war that went ahead anyway kinda knocked the wind out of me, and many others too, I guess. And it’s so easy to view peace protests as endearingly na..ve but pointless; somehow too simple and non-pragmatic.

Yep, too easy.

Whatever your views on this, please find out all you can so that in twenty years time, if we haven’t gone too far already, you can at least be sure that you decided something and didn’t just let it happen, out of sightlines. And if you live in Scotland give some thought to the elections coming in May. Although defence and military spending is a reserved Westminster matter, the transportation of weapons and other essential logistical matters are Scottish Executive responsibilities and there are some cheeky and creative legal moves afoot to scupper London plans … Meantime, the Scottish National Party, Green Party, Scottish Socialist Party and Solidarity Party are all opposed to the new Trident programme.

Anyway, rant over. It’s all a preamble to this song, which I wrote on Thursday for the event that took place that night. And this from me who says, “songs should speak for themselves”, eh? It’s still a work in progress (I’m not too sure about particles and articles as a rhyming couplet) but there’s something there I hope. It came from somewhere real and it came quickly.

Who Cares. Does anyone care. Have we lost our way. Who can do anything.?
I can do something about the school, What about the rest of you?

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