Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Three Cups of Tea

I take for granted that I have the freedom and ability to read anything I can get my hands and eyes on. It takes books like Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time by Greg Mortenson with David Oliver Relin to remind me that not everyone has the freedoms I'm privileged to enjoy. I read Three Cups of Tea about a year ago. This morning I just finished the follow-up, Stones into Schools: Promoting Peace with Books, Not Bombs, in Afghanistan and Pakistan by Greg Mortenson.

I was just as fascinated by this book as I was Three Cups of Tea a year ago. Some interesting facts from the new book include:

  • Girls' education leads to increased income for the girls themselves and for nations as a whole. Increasing the share of women with a secondary education by 1 percent boosts annual per-capita income growth by 0.3 percent.
  • Educated women have smaller, healthier and better-educated families.
  • The better educated the women in a society, the lower the fertility rate. A 2000 study in Brazil found that literate women had an average of 2.5 children while illiterate women had an average of six children. Also, the better educated the women, the lower the infant mortality rate.
  • Educated women are more likely to insist on education for their own children, especially their daughters. Their children study as much as two hours more each day than children of illiterate mothers and stay in school longer.
  • Educated girls and women are more likely to stand up for themselves and resist violence.
  • Studies show that education promotes more representative, effective government.
(Source: Pages 399-401 of Stones into Schools.)
These two books are fascinating tales of how Mortenson performs extraordinary tasks with limited resources. If you haven't read these books, I highly recommend that you do so. You can also learn more about Mortenson and his projects with Central Asia Institute at http://www.ikat.org/. Also, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution ran a San Francisco Chronicle review of the book a few weeks ago. You can read it by visiting here. Last month, USA Today interviewed Greg Mortenson. You can read that article here.

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