Condoleezza Rice when asked about the direction of the non-aligned movement in the wake of September 2006 meeting in Havana commented, “I’ve never quite understood what it is they would be non-aligned against at this point. I mean, you know, the movement came out of the Cold War.” It is a classic (mis)reading of non-alignment which had never aimed at being just plain non-violent and neutral at the face of adversities during the Cold War. Their main rhetoric was questioning the need of an alignment at all, and if at all the Cold War was the most vital issue that humanity was confronting at that time. Since then it has continued to battle far important issues than petty power politics with managing crisis worldwide, such as underdevelopment, illiteracy, racism, poverty, oppression etc that the global South as a community faces.
Non-Aligned Movement has been successful in retaining neutrality during and after the Cold War (however India, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq indulged in some dismal affairs). Arab, India, Yugoslav, Africa, Latin America were suffering both ideologically and psychologically as well as economically and socially after the WWII. Non-Alignment was a means to rebuild the politics of the country that needed to achieve a genuine national renaissance. The worlds of newly emergent countries are poverty-stricken and oppressed that long for a revolution of civilization. After the fourth Summit in Algiers, Non-Aligned Movement unfurled a new campaign for justice and education. Non-Aligned Movement regarded Education as a fundamental human right and necessary for global relations. They felt that illiteracy of people becomes one of the reasons for suffering and to attain peace in real sense, education for all should be promoted.
The National Literacy Campaign started on April 15, 1961. On December 22, Cuban Revolutions heralded with the success news of the initial phase of National Literacy Campaign. Cuban rural illiteracy was reduced to 4% from 42%. Fidel Castro exclaimed that “This literacy campaign will give opportunities to those who were denied an education for economic and social reason….They must be helped; they must be pursued that they can study.” He also expressed his educational plans to be carried out in the fields of science and technology. Latin American and Caribbean Pedagogical University received the UNESCO award for assisting other countries in this innovative literacy method. Bolivia aims to end illiteracy by the year 2008 with the support of Cuba and Venezuela. Aymara and Quechua Indigenous people are started learning to read and write in their mother tongue language.
14th Summit of Non-Aligned Movement reported that 2.3 million people in fifteen countries, including Mexico and New-Zealand are presently under the scheme of National Literacy Campaign. Requests are coming from Gambia, Nigeria, Grenada, St Kitts and Navis for Cuba to send advisors to start the method.
The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESSEA) was passed in 1965. It funded the primary and secondary educations. The aim of this project is to make education widely accessible, financial assistance to local agencies, to enhance the quality of resources of text books etc.
The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, signed by Obama, emphasized the growth of basic skills. It requires all public schools receiving federal funding to administer a state-wide standardized test annually to all the students. The Department of Education points to the National Assessment of Educational Progress results, released in July 2005, showing improvements of students in maths and reading capability.
The National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL), held in 2003 in Latin America, is a nationally representative assessment of English literacy among American adults age 16 and older. It is sponsored by National Centre for Education Statistics (NCES). Since National adult literacy survey in 1992 was introduced, NAAL is the first assessment of adult literacy.
In 1907 the British government passed the first order-in-council on African education. Since the beginning of imperialism to the takeover of the nationalist government in 1948, the Blacks had no access in planning their own education. They remained unequal to that of the Whites and Africaners. In 1953, the Bantu Education Act was introduced to South Africa, a racist act that aimed at providing separate and unequal education for different races of South Africa. But things have gradually improved with CHRISTIAN NATIONAL EDUCATION promoting teachings of cultural diversity and enforced mother tongue instruction in the first years of primary school. Though the numbers of schools for Black pupils were increasing during 1960, they had inferior text-books, teachers and facilities. In 1974, the use of both English and Afrikaans was made compulsory in black Secondary schools. Under Apartheid South Africa there were eight education departments that followed different curricula and offered different level of learning quality. National Literacy Mission, started in 1988, aims to literate 80 million adults in the age group between fifteen to thirty five. It has been started under two schemes- “Total Literacy” and “Post Literacy”. Its first successful campaign was in Kottayam city of Kerala. Report of 2002 says that 596 districts out of 600 of the country had been covered under Total Literacy.
Yugoslavia too has started with there School Reform Act.The theoretical regimes of Non-Aligned Movement have materialized in the means of spreading education to post independent countries. These efforts taken by NAM collectively and members of the collaboration in each country have started to make a difference which will showcase their potential gradually.
Things have improved for better as the member nations have taken up things in their hands and have started their march to override illiteracy, hence preparing to combat the evils of the society one at a time, providing an impact on a broader scale.
By Dr. Ankit Srivastava, Editor