Skip to main content

Religion and ignorance killed those kids, not faith.

Matthew Syed wrote eloquently in the Times:
"The problem in the Middle East is not with Sunnis, Shias or even Isis. It's with religion itself. The Bible like the Koran, has elements that can be interpreted as authorising violence; if Christianity in the West has caused less bloodshed in recent centuries, it's only because it has become less religious. The more "revealed truth" gives way to Enlightenment ideals of evidence and reason, the less followers of a given creed kill those who take a different view."
Today we heard the disgusting and tragic news that yet another school has been bombed by Boko Haram. 47 children were killed and countless severely injured at a science and technology school in Nigeria. This is the most recent in a series of vile horrors committed by these madmen in the name of their deranged version of Islam. As Syed says, it's not the books they believe in that are the problem. It's the mad interpretation they put on their contents for the sole purpose of perpetuating that interpretation.

I have often written about the importance of education to help and encourage young people to ask questions. By thinking for themselves and not blindly accepting the religions of their parents and tribal leaders, we might just be able to encourage enough young men to question whether they will definitely be martyred in heaven to take the wind out of the sails of Boko Haram, Isis et al.

So where ignorance is the engine that sustains these organisations, its fuel is poverty. Hopelessness and despair drive people into the hands of religions. It's their ultimate hope to protect their children and to better their lives. Because nothing else they can do will help them. They can't work any longer or harder. All they've got to look forward to is a hand-to-mouth existence, if they're lucky, and most likely an early death from a preventable disease. No wonder it's so easy to sell them eternal salvation and other ancient fairy stories believed by the only people they've ever trusted. And without any evidence that their religious leaders don't have all the answers to the world's mysteries, why question them? Indeed how do you question them? And why would the religious leaders themselves question what they have been taught as Truth. They simply do not have the ability to question ancient guesswork. In highly educated parts of the world like Europe, many religious leaders do healthily question their faiths. Faith must always be questioned. It's why it's called 'faith' and not 'fact'.

Charitable provision of food and health services to redress poverty won't change anything long term. It's vital, of course, but it's not going to stop the rise of extreme religions. Education is the only way to fight back - and in a way that most parents will understand is good for their children - not withstanding that the children themselves want it. They know it holds the key for their futures, but it can also be fun and lets them play with other kids. Good teachers and good teaching provides the only proven way out of poverty.

The challenge is how to provide high quality education, safely and in a way that suits every child living in disparate parts of the world. I believe the answer lies in harnessing technology. By leap-frogging traditional education practices of gathering children around a teacher of questionable ability, technology today could be harnessed to deliver high quality teaching into challenging environments, especially refugee camps and remote villages. Wifi linked to the fast expanding availability of wireless telecom networks can combine with low cost, durable, solar-powered tablets to access a wide range of customisable lessons and other teaching resources already available on the net which pupils can select and progress in their own time either collectively or individually. Combine this, perhaps, with external teachers and other personal support specialists who can be located anywhere in the world, and we might be able to create a low-cost, high quality, accredited education service for the world’s most disadvantaged. 

And by avoiding having to cluster children in education centres, perhaps we can also help prevent atrocities like those in Nigeria and the Middle East.

Fight poverty by defeating ignorance. Nothing else works in the long term.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Phillips screws - yes I'm angry about them too

Don't get me wrong. They're a brilliant invention to assist automation and prevent screwdrivers from slipping off screw heads - damaging furniture, paintwork and fingers in the process. Interestingly they weren't invented by Mr Phillips at all, but by a John P Thompson who sold Mr P the idea after failing to commercialise it. Mr P, on the otherhand, quickly succeeded where Mr T had failed. Incredible isn't it. You don't just need a good idea, you need a great salesman and, more importantly, perfect timing to make a success out of something new. Actually, it would seem, he did two clever things (apart from buying the rights). He gave the invention to GM to trial. No-brainer #1. After it was adopted by the great GM, instead of trying to become their sole supplier of Phillips screws, he sold licenses to every other screw manufacturer in the world. A little of a lot is worth a great deal more than a lot of a little + vulnerability (watch out Apple!).

My gromble is abou…

Introducing Product Relationship Management - it's what customers want.

Most businesses these days have Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems which store and process vasts amounts of information about us. They use this information to generate communications, amongst other things, which target us to buy their products and services. CRM is all about how a business relates to its customers: Past (keeping them loyal through aftersales and service), Present (helping them buy through bricks and clicks channels) and Future (prospecting).

Most businesses will at some stage have declared themselves 'customer-centric'. They will probably have drawn diagrams on whiteboards that look something like these:



But there's a problem with this whole approach of keeping the customer at the centre of your world and the focal point for everything you do.Is it what the customer wants? Of course companies who ignore their customers eventually go out of business. And those who treat their customers well, tend to thrive. But is it really in the best interests …

The Titus Trust Deceives British Parents to Brainwash their Kids

I have a son who went to a well known preparatory school (7-13) in Surrey. He came home one day clutching a leaflet for fun activity holidays that the school promoted every summer. The Titus Trust operate several camps around the UK where they organise fun outdoor activities for youngsters. Something caught my eye in the leaflet hidden in a paragraph in one of the sections describing the holidays. They used the word Christian. It was the only place in the whole leaflet that the word was used. My suspicions raised, I hunted around the leaflet for more clues and found the imprint which said something like 'A Titus Trust Charity' (the name of the camps was on the title of the leaflet). I dug deeper and found some disturbing evidence of who was behind these 'fun' camps. This is what I wrote at the time to the headmaster:
Dear Headmaster

XXXX came home the other day extremely excited about an outward bound camp next summer that he and his friends had been told about by a rep…