CHENNAI: Nobel Peace Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi said that educating every single child in the world was not a pipe dream, seeing as how it would cost a fraction of what America smokes and Europe powder puffs.
“Today, about 260 million students need to be in school. 22 billion dollars are needed to ensure primary education. In all, 39 billion dollars are required for primary and secondary education every year. How much is that? Four-and-a-half days of military expenditure. If we opt for peace, and love and not kill each other, just four-and-half days of military expenditure can bring all our children to school for a year,” he said.
“It costs just a fifth of what America spends on tobacco. A fourth of what Europe spends on cosmetics. One sixth of what they spend on mineral water. I refuse to accept that the world is so poor that we cannot educate our children,” he said.
Stating that there were compelling reasons for educating children as the return was almost 10 times, with that figure touching 15 for women, Satyarthi contended that we were poor in compassion and political will, which came in the way of our taking care of our children.
He also said millions of children did not have the opportunity to go to school, recalling his experience of talking to young people in his ashram in Delhi. They were among 26 boys liberated a fortnight ago. They were working in a jeans factory and all of them were trafficked from Bihar. “A 10-year-old boy told me that he was forced to work and live in a small room. He was not allowed to leave that room for 20-22 hours a day. I asked if he would like to go to school and he smiled and looked around. He had never dreamt of going to school,” explained Satyarthi. The day this dream became a reality was the day that we, as the world’s largest democracy, would truly embrace humanity, he remonstrated.