Forty years ago, Oman was a hidebound society, similar to neighboring Yemen. There was no modern technology, no paved roads, and most of the people were illiterate. It had just three schools, all boys-only affairs. But today, Yemen is a haven for terrorists, but Oman isn’t. Why? Because in 1970, the sultan’s son deposed his father, and started modernizing the country around the principle of education for all, writes Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times.
Now, Oman is peaceful, pro-Western and thriving, and women are among its most promising entrepreneurs. The lesson, Kristof concludes, “is that one of the best and most cost-effective ways to tame extremism is to promote education for all.” That may sound pat, but Barack Obama hasn’t delivered a dime of the $2 billion he once promised for global education. He’s spending 50 times that in Afghanistan, even though military solutions have a much less impressive track record. “Everybody gives lip service to education,” Kristof laments, “but nobody funds it.”