Bookster: The Case for Universal Access to Education

My favorite quote in The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind is on the last page of the epilogue:

“And I wonder just how many others like us are still out there struggling on their journey….We must encourage those still struggling to keep moving forward.  My fellow students and I talk about creating a new kind of Africa, a place of leaders instead of victims, a home of innovation rather than charity.  I hope this story finds its way to our brothers and sisters out there who are trying to elevate themselves and their communities, who may feel discouraged by their poor situation.  I want them to know they’re not alone.  By working together, we can help remove this burden of bad luck from their backs, just as I did, and use it to build a better future.”

In my opinion, this quote relates to one of the most important themes in this book — access to a quality education. Since we live in a “developed” nation all children have access to a basic K-12 education. However, many would argue that there are serious disparities in the quality of that education across our nation. Nevertheless all Americans do have access to a basic level of education.

Unfortunately, this is not the case in a number of places in the world. There are countless children like William Kambwamba who, through no fault of their own, are prevented from receiving a quality education.  There are several reasons for this, such as the lack of financial resources to pay for tuition and school supplies, gender discrimination and war.

My question to readers is what would our world look like, if all children had access to a quality education and had the opportunity to adequately develop their innate gifts and talents?

- Eric Stanton, Librarian at CADL Okemos

If our online discussion of The Boy Who Harnessed the Windinterests you and you’d like to share more in person, please join us at 12 p.m., April 4 for alively discussion at CADL Okemos.

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3 responses to “Bookster: The Case for Universal Access to Education

  1. Another universal theme in this book was ‘a boy and his dog.’ It was told in an especially heartbreaking way that really brought home the horror of living through a famine. It was also interesting to see how a different culture views animals. The conflict William has between how he feels about his dog and the pressure he feels from his friends to not be soft is a classic teenage dilemma but in a very different context from the way most kids in the US experience it.

  2. “My father was a storyteller, largely because his own life had been like one fantastic tale.” p.23

    Formal education is important, but like William, my father was my first and most beloved teacher. Without him, I would never be the person I am today. He shared my family history by visiting sacred places and family sites through many states. I hold the stories of my family within my heart.

    My father started working a job at 9. His father started working in the West Virginia coal mines at 11. Shoes were a luxury. Dad enlisted in the Navy before finishing High School. (Later, he went on to get his GED.) He went to China, Japan, Fiji and many other countries. He learned about the people, foods, customs and religions. He raised me on his tales of wonder. He had me eating with chopsticks by the time I was 2. He read to me and discussed books with me. Science, especially computer programming was a passion.

    • Thanks for your comment. In chapter 2, William tells the story of how his father, Trywell, met his mother, Agnes. The story of his dad’s transformation from being a wild party-going trader to a family-oriented farmer was interesting. I think all parents like to embellish stories of their childhood – at least a little -when sharing them with their children. Stories are an important part of conveying family history to future generations. – Bookster Eric

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