It has been proven that education is a pathway out of poverty. However the current state of global education reveals just how narrow and inaccessible this pathway is, especially to the world’s poorest populations. While our Global Sharing Partners, the Jamangs with Alpha Christian School in India and the Ladringans with Aeta Christian School, can attest to this, they have worked hard to change things for their communities. The Aeta Christian School in the Philippines has successfully graduated hundreds of marginalized and forgotten Aeta children out of poverty with the skills now to read and write. Our India partners three years ago have begun the same venture among Hindus and Muslims. Though millions of children in developing nations will never have the opportunity to even step into a classroom, GS is proud to use this platform to live out the gospel among children around the world.
But the global education matter is complicated, and attending just school is not always synonymous with receiving an education. Around the globe, it is estimated there are currently 250 million students who are unable to read, write, or do basic math, despite having spent several years in school.
What are the greatest obstacles in global education today? What factors prevent children from attending school, and when they do, from receiving a quality education? While this overview only scratches the surface of the problems that underlie global education, we hope this will provide a bird’s eye view of some of the issues we are seeking to confront.
Lauren Hulsey, with EDIFY, has studied this extensively and reports that among others, some of the main factors that limit student access to education include:
Lack of schools. Long distances from the nearest school prohibit many students from attending, especially for families in rural towns. In other places, there are simply no schools available. Fortunately, the basic lack of school has become less of a problem in recent years, thanks to sustained government efforts around the globe and the expansion of low-fee independent schools!
Financial obstacles. Even in a majority of public schools, education comes at the price of school uniforms, testing, gifts to teachers, and supplies. For some families, a child represents an extra pair of working hands that parents cannot afford to forgo. This is especially prevalent in nations such as Malawi (where GS partners with Medson Mzonda), where subsistence agriculture represents 90% of the labor force.
Lack of teachers. In India, public schools average 100 students. With the surge in class sizes, instruction quality suffers greatly, and “learning” degrades into “classroom management.”
Teacher Absenteeism. Not only are East Indian schools burdened by a shortage of teachers, but also by teachers who are unavailable to their students. Our partners the Jamangs report that the average Indian public school teacher misses 40 days a year largely due to dreading facing 100 children for eight hours every day. This is true for other parts of the world also. Additionally, a study by the World Bank found that teachers in state-run primary schools in some African countries were absent 15-25% of the time.
Lack of Training. Many teachers lack the qualifications to teach students. GS is proud of the teachers at the schools of our partners in India and the Philippines. Consistent, simple daily discipleship among the students is sowing seeds we believe will yield a rich harvest in the years to come.
Ms. Hulsey believes there is a way forward. In recent decades, the global community has become increasingly concerned about the state of education. Achieving universal primary education made the top of the list for the 2015 United Nations Millennium Development Goals, and many nations have made incredible progress in increasing primary school enrollment rates. Despite these astounding successes, the problems outlined above mean that millions of children are still denied their basic right to education. While there is no quick and simple recipe for curing the broken global education system, there are constructive steps that must be taken to move forward and which Global Sharing along with other organizations such as EDIFY are addressing.
At Global Sharing, we are seeking to alleviate this global education crisis by connecting western churches and Individuals with our partner schools. With an unwavering commitment to the education of the marginalized in their communities, the Ladringans and the Jamangs are making an incredible difference academically, socially, and spiritually.
How you can help today:
Contribute financially toward $27,500 needed for Phase 2 of the Alpha Mission School Facility Expansion Project. This phase will fund the school building construction for 300 students on the newly purchased the land. Thank you to all who helped the land purchase happen. Click HERE for more information.
Contribute toward training and motivating teachers. There are opportunities at our partner schools in both India and the Philippines. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to use your skills in training teachers.
Equip teachers with educational curriculum to provide better instruction. Email us if you can help with this.
Provide ways for schools to expand and grow. (GS is in discussion about multiplying present schools. Email email@example.com if you would like to join the conversation.)
*Lauren Hulsey was a communications intern with Edify in 2015. She currently works as staff of Campus Crusade at UCSD in San Diego, California.