When I was twenty-one years old, I was studying cultural anthropology at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. In my lectures and textbooks, I was learning about the different ways societies organize themselves and about revolutions. It was the 1980s, and a revolution was going on in Nicaragua.

Nicaragua had received the distinguished UNESCO (United Nations Scientific, Educational, and Cultural Organization) honor for its bold and hugely successful literacy campaign that had increased literacy by almost 40 percent in only five months. The program had become an international inspiration. I was intrigued that this was achieved by educators ...

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