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Inspiration for Education

March 6, 2021 4:23 PM
By Rachel Dineley, Diversity Officer, Chesham and Amersham Liberal Democrats

Inspirational women 1A week before International Women's Day (8 March) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala took up her post as the new Director-General of the World Trade Organisation, after working for 25 years at the World Bank(ultimately as managing director) and twice as Finance Minister in her native Nigeria. Her extraordinary story is not only inspiring but serves as a valuable lesson in the importance of education.

She lived with her grandmother until she was nine as her parents were abroad getting their education. "They were gone for almost a decade before I really saw them and knew them. I did everything a village girl would do, fetch water, go to the farm with my grandmother, all the chores, I saw what poverty meant, to be poor at first hand," she told the BBC in 2012. Her experience as a teenager during the Biafra civil war of 1967-1970 crystallised this. However, she went on to secure an education which led to her studying at Harvard from 1973-76 and earning a PhD at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1981.

We now have 4 million children living in poverty in the U.K. and many more have been seriously disadvantaged by the interruption in their education as a result of repeated lockdowns. To help them realise their potential, we need a comprehensive programme, both locally and nationally, to ensure that they are given the necessary support to make up for all they have lost over the past year. Whether their aspirations are to run an international organisation, or to work in their local community, we should assure them of the support they now need.