Tuesday, 3 July 2012

A boy's education is not more valuable than a girl's

Publicity is funny thing. Today I (literally) bumped into ‘that bloke’ from TOWIE. You know the one – orange skin, buff, shocking dress sense? That doesn’t narrow it down enough? Sorry, that’s all I’ve got.

Anyway, I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that he and his tribe are of the ‘any publicity is good publicity’ variety and keep Heat in business. People like Bob Diamond must envy this immunity to damaging exposure.

But aside from good and bad publicity there’s also ‘distracted’ publicity, successfully grabbing people’s attention, but probably not making enough of a connection to the real point. Let me explain. At the moment there is a fair amount of discussion in the media about the fact that, according to a recent survey, the Famous Five books are UK adults’ top childhood reads. Also high up on the list are Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Black Beauty and Winnie the Pooh.

Winnie the pooh
 Cue heated discussions. The list of books is flawed. They are typical Guardian readers’ choices. Blyton’s books are racist/sexist (Heard this before? Yawn). I love the Famous Five but The Secret Seven were much better. Etc etc.

So, loads of publicity and discussion – fantastic! But what for exactly? While Plan UK, who conducted the survey, have succeeded in prompting us to think about our childhood favourites (and anything to promote reading I’m 100% for) the whole point of the exercise was really to draw attention to their initiative to help girls around the world who are currently excluded from learning to read and write because a boy’s education is seen to be of more value. Instead they are taken out of school to work - or forced into marriage when they are far too young. So the charity has launched the Education for Girls Facebook App where you can buy a virtual book for just £3 and help fund schooling for the 75 million girls worldwide who are affected. 

Now, I'm all for discussing the relative merits of Matilda vs Anne of Green Gables (and I'd love to hear your own childhood favourites) but please visit Plan UK's Facebook page too. It's important. 


  1. Lara, just love your blog! Had a look at the Plan Uk facebook site - its a really great idea but they need to explain a bit more about what the virtual book is and how to download it - it needs to be simpler for people like me who don't even know what an app is! And this is coming from someone who is quite internet savvy, into widgets etc for websites. Bex66.

    1. Thanks Bex - that's really kind of you to say!
      I agree, it's a great idea in principle and I really hope they get loads of books bought. Simple is always better when it comes to charity - hard enough to get people to part with cash I think!