My son is beyond school age now, but I still have a foolproof way of keeping up with the school calendar. When school is in session, a flashing light in front of the school near my house reminds me to slow down to 15 miles an hour. During vacations and holidays, I’m free to drive by at the usual 30 miles an hour.
The light started blinking a couple of weeks ago, and I’ve been thinking about the value of an education as I creep through the school zone. In my work at Food for the Hungry (FH), I’ve seen firsthand how devastating it can be for children to grow up without an opportunity to attend school. It locks them in a generational cycle of poverty.
Sadly, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) reported in its 2010 Education For All Global Monitoring Report that one out of every six people in the world are illiterate. The reasons vary, but illiterate children typically live in extreme poverty and remain vulnerable their entire lives.
The report cited five critical ways education fights poverty.
- It promotes economic growth, with each additional year of education in low-income countries adding about 10 percent to a person’s income.
- It helps fight HIV/AIDS and other diseases.
- It promotes gender equality.
- It promotes democracy and participation in society.
- Educating mothers improves children’s nutrition and chances of survival.
Education makes a difference!
I’ve seen proof that education puts vulnerable children, especially girls, on a path to more prosperous, thriving lives. Nasrin, a young woman in Bangladesh, is one example.
When Nasrin’s father was in a tragic accident, her mother no longer could afford to send Nasrin to school. The family struggled to survive. Then her mother heard about the FH child sponsorship program. Nasrin was enrolled in school, and this one action transformed the family’s future.
The program paid Nasrin’s school fees and ensured that she received books. FH staff visited the home often, providing training for Nasrin’s mother, encouragement to Nasrin in her schooling, and offering opportunities to attend birthday and Christmas celebrations.
Nasrin experienced transformation, but so did her mother.
Nasrin’s mother learned to make a living, run a business and save money. With her savings, she was able to buy three cows, and FH taught her how to care for the cows. She also received a sewing machine and learned how to become a tailor.
Since biblical worldview is both the foundation and umbrella for FH child sponsorship, family members learned that they have value and that God wants them to succeed. Through the annual FH Christmas celebration, the family learned about the meaning of Christmas.
Today, Nasrin has achieved her dream of becoming a preschool teacher. I’m proud to be part of an organization that helps end poverty in the lives of people like Nasrin and her family.