This article was originally published in the North Wales Weekly News on 8 October 2017.
Last Friday, at the end of a particularly trying political week, I attended afternoon assembly at Ysgol Pen y Bryn, Upper Colwyn Bay. It is hard to imagine a better pick-me-up. The children were singing an upbeat song on the theme of “Counting your Blessings”.
“Don’t be grumpy,” they chorused. “Don’t go on and on.”
That’s telling me, I thought.
I visit Pen y Bryn several times a year, as I do many of the schools in the constituency. For eight years, many of the local schools have been participating in the “Send my Friend to School” initiative.
“Send my Friend” is the British branch of the Global Campaign for Education, which has members in over 80 countries around the world. In the UK, the campaign seeks to increase community awareness of the state of education internationally and generate the political will necessary to ensure that this country plays an active and effective part in efforts to secure education for all.
The fact is that today, at the beginning of the 21st century, there is a global education crisis. Around 263 million children are not receiving any education at all, and many millions more are being inadequately educated.
A few years ago, I visited the Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan, where around half of the residents are children, sheltering from the conflict in neighbouring Syria. The UN refugee agency was operating several schools within the camp, trying to ensure that each child received an education.
I spoke to some of the parents. One, herself a teacher, said she was desperately concerned about what the future held for her child. “I want her to go to university,”she said. “You only get one chance to be educated.”
“Send my Friend to School” is a hugely important initiative. Not only does it remind international politicians of the need to do more to spread the beneficial influence of education, but it teaches children in good British schools such as Pen y Bryn that not everyone is as fortunate as they.
It is an initiative that instils an understanding of an increasingly interconnected world; and, as such, is a very good thing.