"An awareness of the world and the increasingly rapid inter-dependence of its peoples is growing in America. Because of this heightened awareness, we know it is near impossible for people to live in an isolated corner of the world and be totally unaware, or affected, by what happens beyond their immediate surroundings. As never before, it is apparent that no matter what corner of the world we live in, we are all natives of a global village. It is thus evident that we must extend our consciousness in order to deal with this new reality".
African Studies Handbook for Teachers, 1971
Center for International Education
School of Education
University of Massachusetts, Amherst
The above quote was taken from a curriculum and resource guide for elementary and secondary teachers published in 1971. The events of September 11th were a clear reminder of how challenges in other countries become America’s challenges in our globally interdependent world. Never before in our history has there been a more urgent need for teachers to direct attention to helping their students understand global issues and how events in other parts of the world affect Americans.
Like many Third World nations, Nigeria is currently facing very serious educational challenges. With a population of over 170 million, Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country. However, more than 10 million children of primary school age - more than any other country in the world - remain outside the school system, and 62% of those children are girls. This is a pressing issue that cannot be ignored. Yet, most Americans are not aware of the magnitude of this crisis and how it is affecting our lives here in the United States.
No country has ever created sustained economic growth without first achieving near universal primary education. Therefore, improving equity and access to education is essential for breaking the cycle of poverty in Nigeria. The children who do not receive basic education are unfortunately missing out on the opportunity to become healthier adults, more productive citizens and better informed parents. And because we live in a globally interdependent world, the impact of this crisis extends far beyond the boundaries of Nigeria.
PCNAF is dedicated to serving as a catalyst here in the U.S. for enhancing public awareness and concern about the critical need to improve equity and access to education for children in Nigeria. Teachers can play a very important role in helping to raise students' awareness of the complex U.S./Third World connections that impact our lives in profound but often subtle ways. They can help their students examine the economic, political, social, ecological, and national security implications of events in Nigeria for the United States.
Therefore, a key component of PCNAF's mission is providing support to teachers interested in using the disparity in girls education in Nigeria (the millions of girls that are denied access to education) as a vehicle for helping students understand what the phrase 'global interdependence' really means, and instill in them a sense of global responsibility. PCNAF provides technical assistance to teachers in planning their activities and in securing the instructional resources needed to achieve their goals. Since it is extremely important for teachers to share their ideas and experiences with their colleagues, PCNAF can also assist in facilitating dialogue and interaction through its Teacher's Forum.