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TRANSCRIPT: Ambassador Holmes Speaks at Dedication Ceremony for Special Education School in Nigeria
<i>Ambassador J. Anthony Holmes, U.S. Africa Command&#39;s deputy to the commander for civil military activities, addressed school students and local officials during a dedication ceremony in Abuja, Nigeria, January 27, 2010. <br /> <br />The
Ambassador J. Anthony Holmes, U.S. Africa Command's deputy to the commander for civil military activities, addressed school students and local officials during a dedication ceremony in Abuja, Nigeria, January 27, 2010.

The Tudun Maliki Special Education School's renovation was carried out by a U.S. Africa Command Humanitarian Assistance team in partnership with the U.S. Mission in Nigeria and local Kano education authorities. The school is of particular importance in the State of Kano because it is the only school in the state of more than 9 million that provides instruction for special needs students who are blind, deaf or mute.

Holmes spoke about how important it is "to provide educational opportunities for intelligent young men and women" who are disabled and that their disabilities can make "it more difficult, but not in any way impossible to provide them educational opportunities and employment opportunities.

The complete transcript is below.

See also: U.S. AFRICOM's Civilian Deputy Attends Education-Themed Events in Nigeria Mr. Commissioner, Mr. Permanent Secretary, distinguished guest, students from the school, and other distinguished participants in today's ceremony with all due protocol observed. My name is Anthony Holmes; I come from the U.S. Africa Command based in Stuttgart, Germany in which our primary mission is to work with African governments and African militaries to develop the capacity to provide security by Africans, in Africa, for the benefit of the citizens of African countries. When I say the word security I give it a very broad definition. Security is not a military concept; it is a concept fundamental to society and the development of society -- economic development, political development, and social development. Without security there can be no development, this is very clear. But at the same time, there is an interesting relationship between -- (inaudible) -- the opposite direction, and we believe that education is fundamental to this concept of development. Every society, every government has as a fundamental responsibility the development of its human capital, its human capacity, particularly its young people -- through education. There are lots of gaps in the educational systems across the continent, indeed even in our own country. Education is a major priority. The funding of education is inadequate and we struggle to provide the educational opportunities to young Americans. We understand the need for education in Nigeria. We understand the need for education throughout Africa. Now this is not a primary function of a U.S. military command or indeed any military, but in our approach to providing security in Africa, we have adopted a broad perspective that includes development and diplomacy -- one that includes hand-in-hand partnerships with other agencies of the U.S. government and indeed other agencies of federal governments, as in Nigeria, and state government, as in Kano -- not only with the militaries, not only with the security sector of your governmental institutions, but also with the social sectors -- education being foremost among them, healthcare being the second. Now, in addition to basic education for the average student, we also know from difficult experience in the United States how important it is to provide educational opportunities for intelligent young men and women who have handicaps -- if they are blind, if they are deaf, if they are mute. That only makes it more difficult, but not in any way impossible, to provide educational opportunities and employment opportunities for the significant portion of our human capital to overcome those obstacles, so we are proud to be able to make a small contribution to the State of Kano and the nation of Nigeria through the provision -- in the case of AFRICOM -- renovating buildings and expanding facilities at this school, but it is also important to understand that education is not about buildings. Education is about content, it's about curricula, it's what you do with the buildings -- the teachers you educate, the material you prepare to teach your youth. And so it is, for us, a fundamental element of this partnership to work with the U.S. Agency for International Development and its education experts so that you will take our modest contribution -- the $84,000 we have spent to improve the facilities here -- and actually continue the investment with software that complements the hardware we are providing to actually improve the livelihoods and improve the opportunities for the 1,000 or so students that are here every year. So security is a very broad concept. Opportunity is fundamental to the provision of security in countries like Nigeria and no less so in the United States. And so I want to leave you with this idea, that the U.S. Africa Command, in the pursuit of American security interests in Africa, believes that the economic and social development of Nigeria and of Nigeria's youth are critical to this shared objective that we have. Thank you very much.