DECEMBER 9, 1959
BALTIMORE—I had the pleasure the other morning of a call from James Yen of the International Mass Education Movement. He has been giving some time to a pilot project of this organization in the Phillipines whose aim is to aid rural poverty in the areas of the world where it is the greatest, namely, Asia and Africa and Latin America.
Mr. Yen says that it is well known that three-fourths of the world's people are poverty-stricken, illiterate, and at the mercy of disease and misgovernment.
President Eisenhower once said: "In vast stretches of the earth, men wake today to hunger. They will spend the day in unceasing toil. And as the sun goes down they will still know hunger. Many despair that their labor will ever decently shelter their families or protect them against disease. So long as this is so, peace and freedom will be in danger throughout our world."
Having said this, the President, however, has not apparently changed any of our domestic policies and has not pressed on us as individuals the need to do something about this situation.
But the International Mass Education Movement has created in the Philippines an international institute of rural reconstruction. Here this organization will give training to qualified college men and women. from the underdeveloped countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America. The goal is that these people will be able to undertake the important task of training their own people in the rural areas of their countries to fight against hunger and disease and to develop self-reliance and self-government.
The IMEM has developed a reconstruction program for rural areas and will help the leaders in these areas to organize civic and indigenous rural reconstruction. It will also carry on research so as to improve their theories and practices.
The IMEM has chosen the Philippines as the locale for its project because economic and social conditions there are similar to what they are in many of the other Asiatic and African countries. In fact, most of the underdeveloped countries have many of the same problems. This would hold good also in the Latin-American countries.
The IMEM is asking support from American citizens in the work it is trying to do. It is a privately supported group and I hope it will attract the interest of many of our citizens.
There came to me the other day a report from Science Research Associates, Inc., which is, I think, going to be of help in one of the problems facing many of our big cities.
Our Negro and Puerto Rican children often suffer from the fact that they have so little educational background that it is difficult to find out through ordinary tests which children have the intelligence to profit from an opportunity for real education. During the past few years Prof. John C. Flanagan, a University of Pittsburgh psychologist, has been trying out some tests to spot youngsters of high intelligence from educationally deprived areas.
I think this should be of value, and I think we should all, particularly those of us who live in big cities, see that our children in the underprivileged areas are given opportunities for these tests.