"If the children are deprived from education, then they are bound to remain poor for the whole of their life." -Kailash Satyarthi
In developing countries like Liberia, the challenges facing growth and well being are daunting. For our community, need always seems to outpace resources and the crippling effects of Ebola continue to impact the country across multiple sectors.
In light of so many areas of need, why have we focused on providing holistic education over the past 15 years? Because education is critical for national development and stability. It is the foundation for any society and the rebuilding efforts following Liberia's civil war and the Ebola outbreak rest in part on the ability of the Liberian people to strengthen its educational infrastructure.
Nelson Mandela once famously said that, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Here are reasons why:
- Each year of education reduces the risk of conflict by 20%. Source
- Increased access to education decreases the risk for child labor. Source
- One year of additional schooling increases a person's potential income by 10%. Source
- A child is 50% more likely to survive past the age of 5 if their mother can read. Source
- "If all mothers completed primary education, maternal deaths would be reduced by two-thirds." Source
Despite the potential transforming nature of education, many countries, including Liberia, struggle to keep their children in school. For example, in Liberia:
- 82% of the poorest students ages 6-11 do not attend school. Source
- Less than 50% of the total population can read and write. Source
- 16.6% of children ages 5-14 in Liberia are laborers instead of students. (Cost barriers to education increase a child's risk of becoming one of these laborers.) Source
While Liberia's Ministry of Education continues to expand the education system nationwide, we work on a grassroots level to provide access to education for over 500 youth.
As we approach our 15th birthday, we continue to welcome in more students, all receiving tuition subsidies and scholarships. We look forward to continue providing support and access to rich education for our students for years to come, and invite you to be partners with us as we stand up for a child's right to stay in school.
-Elena Bettis, Franciscan Works' Director of Operations & Communications