Education is not ultimately about training people to be clever or successful, but about discovering what it is to be the human beings God fully intended for us to be!1
A recent UNESCO policy paper revealed that 58 million children aged six to 11 are not attending school. As if this were not bad enough, another 63 million youth aged 12 to 15 have dropped out or never attended school.2 Not surprisingly, girls constitute over half of all children out of school.3 Combined with a 10 per cent worldwide decrease in aid for education since 2010, the Director General of UNESCO declares “there is no chance whatsoever that countries will reach the goal of universal primary education by 2015.”
Poverty continues to be the primary cause of children not enrolling or not finishing school. Even if schools are “free”, the associated costs of uniforms, supplies, and transport are beyond the means of poor families. Dropping out of school virtually guarantees perpetuation of the poverty cycle since the income-earning potential of the child is reduced.
Studies prove there is a direct correlation between education and quality of life, including overall health and longevity. As compared with their more educated peers, girls with little or no education are far more likely to be married off as children, suffer from domestic violence, and live their lives in poverty.4
Over the past 20 years, the Methodist Missions Society (MMS) has made access to education for children a priority in developing countries around Singapore. In 1997, MMS planted the first overseas Methodist school in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Enrolment began with 15 kindergarten children, and has since grown to 1,000 students in K1 to Grade 12. In Chiang Mai, Thailand, the Vineyard Methodist Kindergarten and Primary School currently have nearly 300 children enrolled.
In Laos, MMS is partnering with the Singapore Mission School to provide resources and student sponsorship for children in kindergarten through to Primary 3. In future, the school plans to expand to Primary 5 and offer an international curriculum.
With God’s help, the next Methodist School will be planted in Dili, the capital of Timor-Leste. Ravaged by civil war, disease and unemployment, the literacy rate in this country is only 58.3 per cent. When the conflict ended in 2002, few teachers were left and the infrastructure was in ruins.
The past decade has witnessed progress, but more schools are needed to support younger generations. As in other countries, a Methodist school will offer quality, holistic academic education supported by Christian values. Most importantly, children will have the opportunity to come to know Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. (For more details, see Harvest Force, Issue Two, 2014).
Mission school and student hostel ministries represent by far the largest single contact the Church has overseas, not only with children and youth, but with families as well.
Christian education enables individuals, instead of conforming to society, to seek in this world what is good, acceptable, and perfect to God (Romans 12:2, NKJV). Your help is needed to break the vicious cycle of poverty, and to build a virtuous circle of hope for generations to come!
Bless others as God has blessed you!
SPONSOR a child today.
DONATE u www.mms.org.sg/sss
1 “Essence of Education Report”, Methodist Publishing House, 1999.
2 “UNESCO: No Progress in Reducing Global Number of Children Out of School”, http://www.unesco.org/new/en/media-services/in-focus-articles/unesco
3 “Day of the Girl: US Movement October 11th”; http://dayofthegirl.org/girls-denied-education-worldwide/
4 “Education Plays Key Role in Advancing Women, Girls, and Communities, Report says”, http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2014/05/14/education-key-role-womengirls-communities-report
The Rev Teresa Wilborn is a missionary from Aldersgate Methodist Church and the Assistant Director of Community Development in the Methodist Missions Society.