CONGRESSIONAL RECORD - SENATE
March 13, 1961
Mr. MUSKIE. Madam President, in no other area has the imagination and the brilliance of the Kennedy administration shone more brightly than in the establishment of the Peace Corps. In his actions setting up this program to carry the American dream beyond our shores, the President has drawn on the best in our traditions as exemplified in our Declaration of Independence, our Constitution, the Emancipation Proclamation, the New Freedom, the Four Freedoms, point 4, and the Marshall plan. The response given this program demonstrates very clearly that our people are ready and willing to respond to a challenge for higher service in fulfilling the promise of freedom for all peoples.
With the enthusiasm which has greeted the Peace Corps, the administration and the Corps Director, Sargent Shriver, will receive more than their quota of ideas and recommendations as well as personnel. I hesitate to add to the magnitude of their task. At the same time, the problem of international education has been a matter of concern to me, for some time. This area of activity has been assigned top priority in the Peace Corps. In considering the long-range implications of the program, I wish to put forward some suggestions which may be helpful to the administration and to my colleagues in Congress.
I am confident that the Peace Corps will move beyond its present status under Executive order and be given specific authorization under an act of Congress. Although the outlines of the program have not been filled in, it is not too early to look ahead to more permanent emphases and well-defined, specific goals.
As I have said, the President has given top priority to education in the overall objectives of the Peace Corps. He, and members of the staff of the Corps, have mentioned specifically language education, vocational and technical training, programs similar to our Agricultural Extension Service training projects for home and farm, and the construction of rural schools. I am sure that in his planning, Mr. Shriver has in mind a clearly defined set of goals and objectives. I do not anticipate that under this administration we will see any proliferation of unrelated projects.
In an effort to bolster this approach, and to expand it beyond the brief list of projects I have mentioned, I wrote to Mr. Shriver, last week, suggesting another area of education in which the Corps might work. It was my intention to point out the benefits which could be gained by stressing teacher training, with appropriate tools drawn from our experience in the use of modern teaching devices, including audiovisual aids, so-called teaching machines, and other teachers' aids.
By utilizing a program of teacher training, we would have a means of multiplying our efforts through the resources and manpower in the countries in which the program is operating. We would contribute to the long-range development of free nations, especially in those newly emerging countries, by helping to create the professional class which is so essential to a modem society. These highly trained personnel would be able to run industry, to run their government, to train their young people, and above all, to provide leadership.
It is this multiplication factor which intrigues me most. We may train individuals for specific tasks to benefit themselves, but unless we set the stage for or expanded training opportunities under local leaders we will condemn these countries to be dependent on us much longer than we or they wish. No greater evidence of our interest in their welfare, as opposed to our own short-term political benefits, could be given than our determination to give them the means to lead themselves.
I ask unanimous consent to have printed at this point in the RECORD MY letter to Mr. Shriver.
There being no objection, the letter was ordered to be printed in the RECORD, as follows:
MARCH 11, 1961.
Hon. SARGENT SHRIVER
Director, Peace Corps of the United States
DEAR SARGENT: It is evident that the President's Peace Corps is an exciting new idea which has captured the imagination of Americans in all sections of the country.
I am sure you are swamped by the applications of those eager to contribute their services as members of the Corps. I suspect, also, that you do not lack suggestions for useful tasks to which the Corps might apply itself. I cannot resist the urge to add my own.
Since World War II, in our efforts to be of assistance to underdeveloped areas of the world, we have offered economic, military and technical aid. The objective has been to help create conditions under which free institutions could germinate and flourish.
The achievement of this objective has been complicated and made difficult in areas which have never known individual liberty, where the exercise of individual initiative and enterprise are unknown experiences among the masses of the people, where the average citizen is not equipped by education and training to comprehend his own potential and talents, let alone to develop and to apply them. As someone has perceptively stated it: "It is hard to sell democracy to hungry people who cannot read and write."
If these observations have any validity, it seems to me they pinpoint the overriding importance of education to these countries, to their growth and development, to their orientation toward freedom, and to peace in the world.
What are they doing in this connection? What have we done to help them? I am afraid the answers to these questions, in the light of the importance of the objective and the enormity of the task to be performed, must be discouragingly little.
In view of this, the President's statement that the initial emphasis of the Peace Corps would be on education is most encouraging. Certainly this is the greatest single contribution, outside of the fact of the Corps itself, which these citizens will be able to make. The list of teaching activities given by the President and members of your staff-including language training, technical and practical training for vocations and improved living conditions, and rural school construction-represents an excellent framework for direct action in education in underdeveloped areas.
I would like to expand upon this program, however, and suggest several areas which could multiply the impact of our program far beyond the individual teaching experiences we are planning.
What must be done? These underdeveloped nations need their own educational systems. They need their own teachers, their own teacher-training facilities. They need their own programs, geared to their own needs, their own people, their own developing cultures, and they must make the major effort themselves. But, to attain these objectives, they must close a gap represented by centuries of accumulated knowledge and educational programs as we have known them. They need guidance.
We can help them to close that gap. We can help them to teach teachers, to organize programs. In helping them we can put to effective use tools whose potential we have not fully explored in our own education programs; e.g., education films, film strips, the so-called teaching machine, and other educational aids. These can accelerate the progress they so badly need.
The modern aids to education which I have mentioned are ideally suited to rapid training in basic skills. They reduce the problems of language barriers, and they take advantage of our knowledge of better methods of communication. By emphasizing the training of teachers we would be multiplying our effectiveness in those areas where the Peace Corps is in operation. We would be making a major contribution to the development of a pool of skilled teachers and community leaders.
Certainly the unhappy experience in the Congo should teach us the unfortunate effects of a failure to train and develop teachers and administrators in a newly emerging nation which must leap from a relatively simple culture into the complex culture of modern technological society. The people of these countries should enjoy some of the benefits of this society, hot simply suffer from its burdens.
This need not involve the expenditure of huge sums of money by us. The core of the idea is not the construction of a large physical plant in each country involved, but rather to help develop the ability to teach and the opportunity to learn. A teacher and a pupil on either end of a log can be an adequate schoolroom; but such a system will not bridge the gap between one culture and another as rapidly as it must be done. Let us help provide the essentials necessary to begin. If we help the underdeveloped countries make a good beginning, they will do the rest. In the name of economic aid we have done things infinitely more expensive and infinitely less constructive.
It seems to me the Peace Corps is an ideal vehicle to provide the manpower to implement such an effort. What could be more appropriate than to send free citizens of our great democracy to carry knowledge and the means to acquire it, not as propaganda, but as an enlightening, invigorating force into the far reaches of the underdeveloped world through establishing the base and developing the leaders in these countries to spread this knowledge quickly and effectively? Such a gift, and the giver, would never be forgotten by these who receive it.
EDMUND S. MUSKIE,
Mr. MUSKIE. I have recommended the approach of teacher training to the administration to indicate my conviction that this offers great possibilities to give permanent impact and value to our efforts. I bring this to the attention of my colleagues, today, so that we can be prepared to act on legislation when it is sent to us by the President. Any long-range program, in my opinion, should include this approach, with the necessary appropriations to carry it into effect.