Magazine article The Spectator

Banned Wagon: Global

Magazine article The Spectator

Banned Wagon: Global

Article excerpt

Unesco's recent Education for All week was outwardly a campaign to boost the educational opportunities for children in the Third World. On closer inspection, however, the campaigning materials betray a political motive involving one issue alone: `gender parity'.

`Educating girls yields the highest return in economic terms,' asserts Unesco. `Countries in sub-Saharan Africa that have not sent enough girls to school over the past 30 years now have GNPs 25 per cent lower than if they had given them a better chance.' This dubious statistic fails to acknowledge that in several African countries - notably Botswana, Namibia, Malawi, Lesotho and Zambia - more girls attend school than boys; and they are hardly economic hothouses either.

In its campaign materials, Unesco provides no figures for the absolute numbers of children who attend school in various countries; the only thing which seems to matter is that as many girls as boys go to school. Countries which perform poorly in this respect, such as Pakistan, are offered some advice as to how thev could correct the imbalance, such as by providing `gender-- sensitive curricula and textbooks. …

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