What Oman can teach us

What Oman can teach us

American President Barack Obama is spending up to US$1.03 trillion this year on defence, but its military interference in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen seems an ineffective way to crush extremism; it could learn a lesson from Oman.

Only 40 years ago, Oman was one of the world's most conservative societies. Its sultan kept the nation in almost total isolation: radios and televisions were banned as corruptive influences, and most of the population was illiterate and fiercely tribal. Only three primary schools existed, with fewer than 1,000 students: not one was a girl.

Oman has a similar historical background to neighbouring Yemen, which has become an incubator for terrorists affiliated with al-Qaeda. Yet when Sultan Qaboos came to power in Oman in 1970, he began modernisation - built around the concept that education is for all.

Today Oman has good roads, airports and universities and about 650,000 students attend more than 1,000 state schools. Both boys and girls are expected to finish secondary schooling.

History shows that military force rarely solves conflict and poverty, yet it seems the world's 'super power' prefers to lead by force rather than educating the next generation to take care of our earth. World peace does not entail using force to get rid of our 'enemies'.

We must teach tolerance, understand one another's cultures, help to lessen inequality and achieve equal rights. To help conflict-ridden countries become peaceful, we should invest in education, not more guns. It's the least we can do.

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