MARCH 22, 1961
FORT WORTH, Texas—I have just seen a report, made up for President Kennedy by the Institute of International Education, which summarizes the sessions held in San Francisco last December of some 800 delegates representing several hundred organizations. These groups met to discuss the exchange of persons sponsored by the institute. They were Americans and foreigners, educators and businessmen, government officials and private citizens. Their report begins with this statement:
"Education for development of human resources is the keystone of the economic growth and political development of all nations.
"Education must, therefore, be given the highest priority in the United States foreign aid programs with massive shift of emphasis, dollars and people into the effort. This should be done only on the basis of carefully designed plans that provide for a long-term budgeting and commitment."
The whole report is well worth reading by every American citizen who is interested in our world situation at present and in the question of the best way to improve education in this country.
There is no question that our public schools need better teachers, and that means that we should give priority to the institutions training teachers throughout the country. More money, I believe, should be given to the colleges and universities where teachers are trained and then more money should be allotted to teachers' salaries, and the importance of the teacher in the community should be enhanced.
We should work very closely with the United Nations body called UNESCO in our efforts to gain not only the maximum understanding of our own educational needs but also the understanding of what the world needs. UNESCO has the duty to promote education about the U.N. and a mutual international understanding between peoples. Our own educational objectives must be formed with the idea of making us better able to understand other areas of the world and more able to help in their struggles for development.
For 10 years now UNESCO has published a magazine called "The UNESCO Courier." This magazine is devoted entirely to portraying the customs, the arts, the cultures and the peoples of the earth. It has some 300,000 subscribers throughout the world, but in the U.S. the magazine is hardly known. Circulation here is only 10,000, whereas even in Russia it has 25,000 subscribers.
No college or school in their country can really afford to be without "The UNESCO Courier," and I feel sure that once we have succeeded in having it in our libraries, schools and colleges that families all over the nation will feel the need to have it in their homes. The magazine costs $5 a year.
More and more we are becoming conscious of the need to know our neighbors throughout the world. And with the impetus which the Peace Corps is going to give to training ourselves for use both at home and abroad I think this magazine should become extremely important, particularly to the young people in our country.
We cannot send people out to other countries without having them know far more than most of them know at present about the countries where they want to go and to work even for a short time.
I saw an article the other day with pictures of young Sam Bowles and his wife and their students in Nigeria. They could never have been so successful nor enjoyed their lives in this new environment so much unless they had had some knowledge of the country to which they were going.
In one of our magazines, also, I came across an article illustrating the tremendous differences that exist in the new African states. There was a picture of the most modern architecture of a new theatre that had been erected in Uganda and next to it are some extremely primitive houses. These contrasts are inevitable in new countries, and there will be contrasts in the people our Peace Corpsmen will meet—from the very highly educated intellectuals to the great number of illiterates who have not had a chance for any kind of education.
We must go to learn in these countries, but we will be better able to learn and to teach if we have prepared ourselves beforehand to the best of our ability. This is why we need to improve our schools and give our teachers a chance for better preparation before they can begin to educate the citizens of the future.