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The 'mobile library' project in Nigeria STEFAN HEUNIS/AFP/Getty Images

Education Saved My Life

The world is in the midst of an education crisis, as half of the planet’s young people are failing to learn the basic skills needed to secure a more prosperous future. One former child soldier and soon-to-be law student promotes a strategy for putting money behind politicians' platitudes.

NEW YORK – My family was murdered before I could tie my shoes. As a young boy in Sierra Leone, years that should have been playful and carefree were spent fighting in someone else’s war. For me, childhood was a nightmare; escape always seemed impossible. But when the war officially ended, in 2002, I began finding ways to recover. One of the most important has been an opportunity I couldn’t have imagined as an angry, illiterate, nine-year-old soldier: school.

I am living proof of the transformative power of education. Thanks to hard work and lots of good fortune, I managed to graduate from high school and then university. Now, in just a few months, I will begin graduate classes at the Fordham University School of Law, an unimaginable destination for most of the former child soldiers in my country.

And yet, throughout my brief educational journey, one question has always nagged me: why did luck play such a crucial role? After all, education is supposed to be a universal human right. If only it were that simple.

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