I listened to worries from soon-to-be kindergartners as they wondered what their teacher would be like, if they would make any friends, if they would be able to learn to read, if they would still have time to play, and if riding the bus by themselves would be scary.
The following week, I tried to follow those same ramblings of those same children as they excitedly rambled details of their first week at school. Their new friends, their new desk, the cool colorful carpet they get to listen to stories on, the big playground outside, music class, gym class, snack time, and their silly teachers that love them so much.
In my job, I love squeezing the little babies, I love watching toddlers grasp language for the first time, I love hearing kids thoughts on Jesus, but it is these moments, watching kids go from scared of something to completely confident that I love the most. New kindergartners are so sure of themselves, so inspired, ready to take on the world.
We teach our kids that they can be anything they want to be. We tell them to dream big and reach for the stars. Kids dream to be teachers, doctors, football players, bakers, race car drivers, and mermaids. And we encourage that.
Sadly, there are kids in our world who don't have these dreams. Sure, they may have had them at one point. "Mom, I want to be a doctor when I grow up." Instead of being able to tell their children, "Sure, you can do that, reach for the stars!" these parents have to tell their children, "Oh honey, you have to go to school for that and _______ (we can't afford school, we can't afford school supplies, we need you to work, we need you to take care of your siblings, etc). I know this is a heartbreaking situation for the child and the family. Nobody who cares for children wants to shoot down their dreams. But all too often, that's reality.
"Worldwide, nearly 80% of primary school-aged children attend school. In least developed countries, the figure is around 66%"
That means, that 20%-34% of the world's children do not attend school.
Guys, primary school age is, generally, 5-11. Can you imagine your 5-11year old not going to school, for any reason?
"Worldwide, only 49% of children of secondary school age actually attend secondary school."
Secondary school is typically what we known as middle school and high school. These are kids aged 12-18. 51% of 12-18 year olds in our world, are not getting an education. There are several reasons for this: some drop-out because the material is too hard, some get involved in gang activity, some get pregnant and get married, some have to stay home and care for younger siblings. But, I'd be willing to guess that most children at this age are required to get a job and earn money to support their family, who already can't afford to feed their children.
Without a quality education, these children are, essentially, doomed to repeat the past. They are stuck in the cycle of poverty. No education, no decent job, having children, can't afford to send the children to school, those children grow up to have no education and no decent job themselves. It's a slippery slope and for most families, it's the only choice.
But, there is something to be done about this. There are many organizations that help children living poverty attend school. One of these organizations is Compassion International. When you choose to sponsor a child living in poverty, you give them the opportunity to get an education. They will be able to attend school. If they run into difficulty, Compassion offers tutoring. These children will not have to work to support their family because Compassion provides that child with the things their family may not be able to afford (school supplies, uniform, school fees, school medical physicals, etc).
I encourage you to visit Compassion International's Website , look over the pictures, pray for the children, and find a child you would like to help get an education. You can also write them letters of encouragement, ask them about what they are learning at school, send them math or handwriting worksheets, ask them about their grades, and let them know that you're praying for them to do well at school. Sometimes, it just takes that extra boost of confidence that comes from knowing that somebody loves you and wants you to do well.
Help a child reach for the stars!