In 1995 on an education mission to Kuwait, I visited several schools. In an infant girl’s class they were learning English, a compulsory second language in that country's curriculum, using word cards to increase their vocabulary. The walls were as colourful as any Kiwi classroom with posters and charts. The pupils were enthusiastic. It could have been a classroom anywhere in the world except for the previous day's drive out into the hot, sun-drenched desert, with its tethered camels, a Biblical boy leading his sheep, burnt-out tanks and cordoned-off minefields. "We have a vision of a better Kuwait," the teacher said. Education always contains a hope of betterment, for individuals as well as the nation. In a war-torn country it becomes more obvious. New Zealanders incline to take the vision for granted and therefore lose sight of it.
"Where are you from?" one of the girls shyly asked me.
"New Zealand", I said. "Do you know where that is?"
She looked at the teacher who nodded so leaving her desk she went to the map on the wall and pointed correctly.
"Clever girl" I said
"Teacher showed me. We do not learn without a teacher."
I wonder if a New Zealand seven-year-old would make the same comment?