I’m in Ethiopia, scouting locations for a new special that will air next fall on public television. And right now, we’re in a tiny village in one of the most remote places I’ve ever been. We’re here to see a high school that was built right in the village, so that local students can get an education without having to move to the nearest city — which means more families can afford to keep kids in school through grade 12.
Ethiopia is committed to education, and today nearly all its children attend primary school. In some of the more remote and poor areas, schools are built by NGOs from the developed world, and then staffed and run by the national government. I was inspired by this high school, and I think you will be, too.
(Allow me to be political for a moment: As the rich world girds itself for an influx of desperate refugees escaping hopelessness in desperate lands, some political leaders are stirring up a fear of immigrants. They are doing this to justify the use of harsh measures against these people — and to win votes. We can learn from what’s happening in Ethiopia. When a struggling country becomes more peaceful and prosperous — and schools like this one are made available to all kids — people have a reason to stay home. European governments understand this, and they are expanding assistance programs in countries from which lots of people are fleeing. A fearful rich society can build walls and call out the military — or it can use those billions of dollars to do something constructive.)