School With a Difference:
An Option for the Poor
With virtually unlimited access to education in the United States, we often take its true value for granted. When was the last time you stopped to ask why education is valuable and why it is a uniquely human good that ought to be available to all people?
In simplest terms, education matters because it cultivates the gift of human reason, our capacity for intelligence, creativity, language and consciousness that sets us apart from the rest of the created world.
In a very practical sense, education allows individuals, families and communities to achieve more for themselves—a gift that has the power to affect generations of people.
In the context of our Catholic missionary service around the world, Divine Word Missionaries are committed to the primary importance of education in the life of each human person and to offering access to education wherever they are called to minister and serve.
But complicating factors such as poverty often limit a person’s access to education. By understanding the correlation between poverty and education, and striving to bring education to developing countries, Divine Word Missionaries are addressing some of the root causes of poverty and inequality around the world.
Here’s a look at some recent statistics about the state of global education, including facts about the link between education and poverty.
The past century has seen great strides in the global effort to improve access to education. However, far too many people remain uneducated or illiterate. In response, many Catholic religious orders have explored the correlation between poverty and education and tasked themselves with eradicating poverty by impacting education in developing countries.
Extreme poverty remains one of the most obstinate barriers to education. Children from the poorest households are almost five times more likely to be out of school than those from households with a higher income. Globally, two-thirds of the poorest children have never attended any school, have dropped out or are repeating primary grades multiple times.
The correlation between poverty and education can manifest itself through a lack of trained teachers, inadequate learning materials, makeshift classrooms and poor school sanitation. Some students come to school too hungry, too sick or too exhausted from work or household chores to benefit from their lessons. Additionally, children from rural areas are more than twice as likely to be out of school than their urban peers. Often this is because they must travel great distances to attend class. All of these things make learning difficult for children living in poverty.
Without access to education, children fail to develop skills for lifelong learning. This in turn creates lasting barriers to earning potential and employment later in life and thereby perpetuates the cycle of poverty. Additionally, these children are more likely to suffer illness, which threatens their ability to build a better future for themselves and their communities.
Catholic religious orders have a long history of promoting and offering education to the most vulnerable and marginalized. Long before governments and nations began to take responsibility for offering education to their citizens, the Catholic Church was the center of education and learning in Europe through monastic and cathedral-based schools.
Catholic missionaries have established parishes, hospitals and orphanages around the world, but primarily they have established schools. Arguably, giving young people access to education does more to improve the lives of communities and countries than any other act of service.
Over the last 20 years, Catholic organizations around the world have worked hard to reduce poverty as well as improve education in developing countries. Catholic outreach programs have helped these countries to build schools, train teachers, develop curricula and serve students at all educational levels. Catholic religious orders have made great strides to empower children and families to escape poverty through the power of education.
In fact, in 2018 a total of 12 million children were reached with educational support, 6.9 million of them in humanitarian situations. This progress, made by charitable organizations around the world, represents the strides that organizations — such as Divine Word Missionaries — are making to bring education to the most vulnerable.
Today, education remains a key priority for Divine Word Missionaries. We recognize that the power of education cannot be underestimated, and we are dedicated to exploring new ways education can end poverty. For this reason, we have made education a central part of our mission. Our call to educate is manifest in the following areas:
Divine Word Missionaries do more than talk about the importance and impact of education. We see the need for education, and we act. Divine Word Missionaries have established, headed or staffed hundreds of schools, predominantly in areas where education is uncommon or hard to access.
We hope you have enjoyed learning more about the impact of education on poverty, the work that Divine Word Missionaries are doing to educate the most vulnerable and the changes in people and communities that happen through the power of education and literacy.
Please join us in this important work. Support Mission Impact and help continue the educational work of Divine Word Missionaries for the impoverished, the illiterate, the suffering and the marginalized.
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