Why Education Matters


"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

Donate to support our students' education here. 

Easter Update

God’s dream is that you and I and all of us will realize that we are family, that we are made for togetherness, for goodness, and for compassion.
— Desmond Tutu

Studies at Liberia Mission

  • The students at St. Anthony of Padua School are in their 4th marking period (a marking period is like a quarter in the U.S.) and are doing well.

  • Our 9th graders are studying hard for their West Africa Examination Council (WAEC) exam, which they must pass to get into high school. The teaching team at St. Anthony’s organized extra study classes that students have the option to attend. They have developed mock tests so the students get used to the format and content of standardized tests.

  • Our high school seniors have finished their internships and are now preparing presentations about their internship experience that they will give to their fellow seniors and teachers. They are also preparing for the West African Senior School Certificate Examinations (WASSCE), which they need to pass in order to graduate.


A Welcoming Note

“Jesus, send us Priests. Jesus, send us holy Priests. Jesus, send us many holy Priests.” This prayer is one taught to us years ago by Sr. Maria Newkirk. She has been called home since then, but the mantra still echoes today as we welcome new priests into our life on Liberia Mission.  We are happy to announce that Bishop Ziegler, Archbishop of Monrovia, has assigned a new priest to the mission, Fr. Louis Yao Awoudja, a member of the Society of the Divine Word (SVD Missionaries) from the Ghana province. Last Sunday, we celebrated a welcoming Mass for Fr. Yao and a thanksgiving Mass for Fr. Gabriel's service over the past three years. We are grateful to the Archbishop for his continued shepherding of Liberia Mission and for sending us priests. We say thanks, farewell, and God speed to Fr. Gabriel Sawyer and welcome to Fr. Yao!

We are also pleased to announce that Quinn Eide has joined the board of Franciscan Works. Quinn and his wife Lauren live in Chicago. Welcome Quinn!


Looking Through the Numbers

Last year’s financials were challenging, but we have other numbers that speak to the spiritual health of our Mission last year as well. We are happy to report that in 2017:

  • 23 students were baptized.
  • 35 students received First Communion.
  • 40 students received the 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit in Confirmation. 
  • 3000 hours of community service were voluntarily completed by our students.

Prayer Requests

Please pray along with us for Fr. Don Halpin, our dear board member, who had back surgery a couple of weeks ago. We pray for Mike Shanahan, a wonderful benefactor, who is now with the Lord. May Mike’s soul and all the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Pray along with us for a college student who is joining us for a mission trip to LMI this summer. We pray for Fr. Gabriel as he goes to his new assignment and for Fr. Yao as he begins his ministry at Liberia Mission.