Headlines: Greg Mortenson, storytelling, and Pakistan's schools


Here's hoping this firestorm ultimately helps to move responsible education efforts forward. (Photo: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Flickr/Creative Commons)

Greg Mortenson, founder of Central Asia Institute and author/subject of the books Three Cups of Tea and Stones Into Schools, has been under an uncomfortable spotlight this week. Accusations that he and CAI aren’t what they seem have prompted big conversations about international development work, nonprofit governance, and more.

(In case you haven’t been following along, author Jon Krakauer recently released Three Cups of Deceit: How Greg Mortenson, Humanitarian Hero, Lost His Way, in which he presents evidence that Mortenson fabricated portions of his bestselling books. CBS’ 60 Minutes featured a story called Questions Over Greg Mortenson’s Stories; Mortenson, who had declined an interview, issued a response earlier this week, as did the CAI board.)

Here are some follow-up headlines we’ve spotted this week.

Pakistan Does Have an Education Crisis Despite Questions About Mortenson’s Three Cups of Tea – Rebecca Winthrop, Director of the Center for Universal Education at the Brookings Institution:

Good intentions do not necessarily translate into effective international development practices and NGO management. In the ongoing search for successful aid models, it is important to highlight that there are many professional non-profit organizations that do excellent education work in Pakistan. Many of them are Pakistani organizations, such as the Citizens Foundation and the Children’s Global Network. Community involvement and leadership are central to many of the work of these organizations, which is further supported by the education expertise of local staff and implementation of basic organizational management principles to track funds and monitor activities.

Eureka and Other Myths: A Reflection on Three Cups of Tea – Katherine Lucey for PeaceXPeace:

There is such a palpable desire for an origination story, an epic tale of good versus evil, a lost soul finding redemption or a single moment of inspiration…Real solutions don’t happen that way.

Three Cups of Tea and the Stories We Tell – Macy Halford, The New Yorker:

There’s a tacit understanding between the author of a book that draws attention to a social injustice while proffering a solution and the buyer of that book: the understanding is that the purchase is akin to a donation…Savvy authors of these types of books (like Rebecca Skloot), will tell the press exactly what they’re doing with it. Mortenson, if he is innocent, is going to have to do better than impassioned denials.

For many, many more responses, see the roundups at Good Intentions are Not Enough and zunguzungu.

What’s your take on all of this?

Tags: , , , , ,