IMPACT ON EDUCATION:

Divine Word Missionaries Empower the Poor and Marginalized

The power of education cannot be underestimated. In this resource, we highlight the ways Divine Word Missionaries have made education a central part of their ministry in every corner of the globe. We hope this information and these stories move you to a deeper gratitude for your own education and a desire to see every man, woman, and child granted access to the basic tools of learning and literacy.

Our call to educate, to teach and share the Word is made manifest in schools, universities, and seminaries. In basic literacy programs and vocational schools. We also do it through communication: books, radio, print media, social media, and more.

THE IMPORTANCE OF EDUCATION

We often take for granted the fact that education is valuable. It is a universally accepted axiom, like the fact that the earth is round. But 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 accessible to all people?

In simplest terms, education matters because it cultivates the beautiful gift of human reason, our capacity for intelligence, creativity, language, and consciousness that sets us apart from the rest of the created order.

Here are five key reasons why education matters:

  • Our capacity for reason gives us the ability to act as stewards of the earth and of each other.

  • For Catholics and Christians, human reason represents our share in the Divine Intelligence and in the Divine Word of God. We are created in His Image, capable of thought, wonder, and communion with nature and other people.

  • Opening up access to education offers people the chance to ignite their God-given capacity to learn and know about the world around them. It lets people access accumulated human knowledge about science, agriculture, mathematics, and the written word.

  • It opens doors to opportunity and unity that otherwise remain firmly shut. An illiterate person has little chance of opening a business, understanding the history of their people, or learning about distant cultures and far away places.

  • Most crucially, illiteracy is linked to a shortened life expectancy.

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. 

“BASIC EDUCATION IS THE PRIMARY OBJECT OF ANY PLAN OF DEVELOPMENT. INDEED HUNGER FOR EDUCATION IS NO LESS DEBASING THAN HUNGER FOR FOOD: AN ILLITERATE IS A PERSON WITH AN UNDERNOURISHED MIND.”

— POPE PAUL VI, ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF PEOPLES

SOME FACTS ABOUT THE STATE OF GLOBAL EDUCATION

Here’s a look at some recent statistics and facts about the state of global education.

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One out of five children and adolescents does not attend school. This works out to be over 263 million children worldwide. (UNESCO)

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The average youth literacy rate (for ages 15-24) is at 91% as of 2016. Young women at 90% are still less likely to be literate than young men at 93%. (UNICEF)

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Women and girls account for two-thirds of the global illiterate population. (DoSomething.org)

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“A woman’s earning potential will be up to 20% higher for every year of schooling she completes.” (Children.org)

There are significant moments in human history when the opportunity for learning opened up for the common man and woman.

Perhaps the most significant came with the invention of the printing press and movable type by Johannes Gutenberg in 1439. Suddenly, one technological advance from a German inventor gave people who were not wealthy or elite the chance to learn to read and to own and read their own books. Education and literacy have been advancing to the most remote, impoverished communities ever since.

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.

“THE TASK OF A TEACHER IS NOT SIMPLY TO IMPART INFORMATION OR TO PROVIDE TRAINING IN SKILLS INTENDED TO DELIVER SOME ECONOMIC BENEFIT TO SOCIETY… IT IS ABOUT FORMING THE HUMAN PERSON, EQUIPPING HIM OR HER TO LIVE LIFE TO THE FULL — IN SHORT IT IS ABOUT IMPARTING WISDOM.”

— POPE BENEDICT, ADDRESS TO TEACHERS AND RELIGIOUS

CATHOLIC RELIGIOUS ORDERS PLAY A SPECIAL ROLE IN 
EDUCATIng AND LEARNING

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.

Fun Fact:

The earliest centers of learning existed in Africa and Asia in the first thousand years after Christ. However, the word "university," from the Latin universitas or “whole,” was coined at the founding of the University of Bologna in Italy, the oldest university in continuous operation, in 1088.

When Catholic missionary orders first traveled to distant countries to serve people and spread the Gospel, many brought along a high regard for education. 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.

When St. Arnold Janssen founded the Society of the Divine Word, he encouraged education in two ways:

  1. Our capacity for reason gives us the ability to act as stewards of the earth and of each other.

  2. For Catholics and Christians, human reason represents our share in the Divine Intelligence and in the Divine Word of God. We are created in His Image, capable of thought, wonder, and communion with nature and others like ourselves.

Today, education remains a key priority for Divine Word Missionaries, both for the people we serve through mission and also for those who wish to learn more about and support the work of missionaries and mission ministries.

FOUR WAYS WE IMPACT
EDUCATION

SCHOOLS,
UNIVERSITIES,
AND SEMINARIES

School With a Difference:
An Option for the Poor

Read More

LANGUAGE AND
LITERACY
PROGRAMS

Learning Polish in the Fu
Shenfu Migrant Center

Read More

VOCATIONAL
SCHOOLS

A Dream, a Plan, Now
Hope for the Future

Read More

WITH THE
WORLD

Promoting Communication
in Toks Pisin

Read More

 LEADING HUNDREDS OF
SCHOOLS, UNIVERSITIES,
AND SEMINARIES

Divine Word Missionaries do more than talk about the importance of education. We see the need for education, and we act. Because of this, Divine Word Missionaries established, headed, or staffed hundreds of schools, predominantly in areas where education is uncommon or hard to access.

  • We work with local churches and local authorities to offer education to children who are impoverished or face serious social stigma due to tribal systems, caste systems, or disease. We also operate regular parish schools in places where Divine Word Missionaries are responsible for parish life.

  • We establish, staff, and teach at places of higher learning, like colleges and universities.

  • We offer theological training and formation in seminaries around the world, helping young men who have experienced a call to religious life fulfill that vocation. Our seminaries are also places where women religious and lay people can learn about counseling, pastoral ministry, the Bible, and Catholic teaching.

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41

Seminaries

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22

Colleges

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4

Universities

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300+

Schools

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IMPACT ON EDUCATION

We hope you have enjoyed learning more about the importance of education, the work that Divine Word Missionaries are doing to educate the most vulnerable, and the changes in people and communities that they see happen through the power of education and literacy.

Join Mission Impact and support the educational work of Divine Word Missionaries for the impoverished, the illiterate, the suffering, and the marginalized.

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