According to Veronique Lorenzo, Head of Unit EuropeAid- European Commission all we have to do is educate women to secondary school level.
Let me start from the beginning. A few days a go I stumbled upon this tweet and my immediate reaction was how simple it all sounds.
The simplicity of this message is a problem for me precisely because it over simplifies something complex and in this case the plight of children going hungry. They are so many children whose mothers have degrees but cannot afford to put food on the table for all manner of reasons including having the wrong sort of degree! Yes the degree can be wrong according to the market place
I am not saying that education is a waste of time, rather that there are other reasons as to why children go hungry, some of which are structural/systemic and cannot be fixed by education alone.
Children do not eat degrees and if this were possible, over two million children would not be going hungry in Uganda as a high percentage of Ugandan mothers have had access to education thanks to the Universal Primary Education policy that came in with the Millennium Development Goals.
Indeed this sort of message distorts the reality of people’s lives and in particular the day today choices that women have to make. This sort of message hides the structural/systemic issues working against mothers, that prevent them from accessing food for their children and top of that list is the impact of globalisation. How can the poor benefit from globalisation?
Increasingly global companies are taking up agricultural land in Africa for either bio fuels or for food for export to rich countries. . Can a secondary school education help an African mother fight against something like this?
I do not doubt that there is a broad link between education and the welfare of children but we have to consider the quality of that education. For instance, is nutrition is a mandatory subject for secondary school pupils? What value would this add to the development if it were? How can we make such knowledge accessible to those that do not have access to formal education for instance? The very people that Veronique’s message also fails to acknowledge and yet some raise health children.
In my opinion, stunting is not necessarily about the lack of secondary school education but rather lack of knowledge as it relates to a balanced diet as well as access to nutritious food because the individual cannot buy or grow their own food. The issue of access to nutritious food is in turn impacted by globalisation and unemployment. Let’s not forget too, that the quality of education is important.
Your thoughts please