The soundtrack for the start of term must vary hugely across Ireland, from whoops at the thought of friends and new pens, to groans at sitting still, sums and homework. But according to Save the Children, there may be no soundtrack at all in a quarter of the world’s countries. As term begins in higher income nations, more than a hundred million children are out of school. Education hangs in the balance in 48 countries, most of them in sub-Saharan Africa. The causes include climate change, lack of COVID-19 vaccines, attacks on schools, forced migration because of war or poverty, and little or no internet access.
Wow. How many of those affect schooling in Ireland?
On a rainy Monday of long division, itchy uniform, gossiping friends and narky teacher, it may not feel like a gift to be at school. But think of a girl in Afghanistan forced to stay at home by the Taliban, or a boy in Haiti looking at the rubble of his earthquake-and-flood-ruined classroom.
Those thoughts may not make school shirts less itchy or long division less baffling. But at the very least they’re a reminder of our privileged access to education in Ireland. Let’s never, ever take it for granted.