Imagine how different your life would be if you had never learned to read or understand numbers. For millions of people in the developing world, this is their reality — and their lack of education significantly impacts their ability to step out of poverty.
Worldwide, an estimated 58 million elementary-age children are not enrolled in school. Through age 15, that increases to 120 million. And in spite of progress over recent decades, many children in school do not achieve functional literacy and numeracy skills due to overcrowded classes, lack of supplies, teachers who need more training, or disruption due to disasters and prolonged crises.
By one estimate, more than 200 million children under 5 in developing countries fail to reach their potential in cognitive development — the majority of which live in south Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Poverty, ill health, poor nutrition, and a lack of stimulation during this crucial period can undermine educational foundations, restricting what children are able to accomplish in the future.
I needed clothes and you clothed me.—Matthew 25:36 (NIV)
Day in and day out, 12-year-old Mohsin used to work at a book-binding business near his house in Meerut, a city in northern India. While hauling around books for 10 hours each day, he yearned to know what was inside them. But after work Mohsin was so physically exhausted he didn’t have time to play, nor could he attend school.
“I was surrounded by books, but I didn’t know what was in them,” he says. “I was always curious to know what they contained. All I thought about was how it would be if I could study these books I carried tirelessly all day.”
He would soon find out. In 2013, World Vision began a project in Meerut to help children not attending school by creating 14 centers where they can get tutoring and learn — for some it’s their only education.
Mohsin began attending, and the center’s staff also spent time speaking with his family about the importance of his education.
A year later, he tested into grade two and quit his job, all with his family’s support. Now, when Mohsin leaves his house each morning, he takes his prized possession — his schoolbag filled with books. He continues to attend the center after school, and now he has time to play cricket with his friends, too. He said he feels healthier and happier and now dreams of the future.
“When I grow up, I want to be a police officer,” Mohsin says. “I want to run fast and catch all the thieves, but I want to finish studying first. Without going to school, I will not become a good police officer.”
His mother has seen a transformation in him that reassures her they made the right choice.
“Even if there is no money in the house, I will still send Mohsin to school,” Kanij says. “I will never stop his education. Mohsin smiles more often now; he is happier. I want a good life for my child.”
Join us in praying that people everywhere — especially children — will gain the education, wisdom, and discernment they need to reach the fullness of life God intends for each of them.
Pray for an end to the generational cycle of illiteracy and poverty.
Every year on Sept. 8 we recognize International Literacy Day and the critical role reading plays in daily life. Without the ability to read and write, families are trapped in the relentless cycle of crushing poverty and day-to-day survival.
Great Teacher, children need an education to have the full and abundant life You came to give them. Your Word demonstrates how You touch people’s hearts to spur them to action for their own benefit. Bless people living in poverty by providing ways to learn to read and to apply this new skill to help lift their families out of poverty — for this generation and generations to come.
“Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life.” —Proverbs 4:13 (NIV)
Pray for parents to support their children’s education.
Parental engagement and support greatly increases a child’s chances of access to a quality education and sustaining a commitment to learning. But parents can also be a barrier to education when they support harmful local traditions and customs, such as child marriage, or rely on their children’s income.
Faithful Shepherd, help parents understand the value of their children’s education. May parents and other family members surround children with the support and encouragement to become all who You desire them to be. If economic support is an issue, may parents find additional means of income to provide for their family.
“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” —Proverbs 22:6 (NIV)
Pray for teachers everywhere to be men and women of integrity.
Teachers, who spend more time every day with their students than possibly anyone else, have enormous influence over children’s precious young minds. Ask God to inspire teachers to be the best role models — always speaking the truth in love to the children who look up to them.
Holy Spirit, be with teachers everywhere. Put Your righteousness in their hearts and Your words on their lips to share with the children in their daily care. May classrooms not only fill students with knowledge, but also wisdom, discernment, and integrity.
“Buy the truth and do not sell it — wisdom, instruction and insight as well.” —Proverbs 23:23 (NIV)
Pray for children’s safety at school.
World Vision works to keep schools safe and free from all forms of violence, such as fistfights, and installs separate latrines for girls and boys to help prevent gender-based violence. Fulfilling children’s need for and right to protection gives them the opportunity to develop in all areas, including education.
Almighty Lord, classrooms should be safe places for children, but it can’t be guaranteed. Protect children, and help teachers, administrators, and law enforcement officers to remain vigilant against violence. Help them to create an environment where students can flourish.
“The Lord is my light and my salvation — whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life — of whom shall I be afraid?” —Psalm 27:1 (NIV)
Pray for the protection of children who aren’t attending school.
Many children can’t attend school because their families depend on their income or the walk to school is too long or dangerous. The 120 million children worldwide not enrolled in school are at greater risk for exploitation, child marriage, and lower income-earning potential. And because half of the world’s out-of-school children live in conflict-affected countries, they are at an even higher risk of being marginalized.
Father God, lay a blanket of protection over children who cannot attend school, especially those whose educations are disrupted by conflict, emergencies, and natural disasters. In Your mercy, provide opportunities for learning so that through education they find the hope and skills for a better future.
“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” —Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
Pray for girls growing up in cultures that do not value their education.
The global gender divide means a girl can expect to spend eight years in school, but the boy sitting next to her will likely benefit from another 18 months of instruction. Not surprisingly, nearly two-thirds of the world’s 775 million illiterate adults are women — a statistic that hasn’t budged for a decade. Ask God to remove roadblocks and open doors of opportunity for girls to attend school and achieve their potential.
Primary education and literacy for girls transforms and saves lives:
- A child born to a literate mother is 50 percent more likely to survive past age 5.
- If all women in sub-Saharan Africa completed primary school, maternal mortality would fall by 70 percent.
- Educating girls for six years or more improves prenatal care, postnatal care, and childbirth survival rates.
Great Provider, we know You created children with a curiosity to learn about their world. Give every girl and boy the chance to explore the world through their studies. We ask You to raise up godly leaders who will change the way girls and women are treated, opening the possibility for fuller lives and futures filled with promise.
“Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’” —Matthew 19:14 (NIV)
Pray for World Vision’s work to educate all children.
Children are the future of the world’s nations. If children are left uneducated, another generation will continue to struggle without life’s basics. World Vision’s education projects focus on sustainable activities that help children gain access to a quality and equitable education:
- Increasing access to equitable and quality basic education, with special attention to girls and children with disabilities
- Partnering with parents, local organizations, the private sector, and governments to galvanize greater learning outcomes and opportunities
- Strengthening community involvement in education to create enabling environments
Lord, Proverbs tells us that an education is invaluable and that we should pursue it, even if it costs everything we have. We praise you that millions more children are getting an education now than a decade ago. We ask for Your continued blessing on World Vision’s work to educate children worldwide. Help us build momentum around the world so every child has the opportunity to go to school and learn how to read and understand basic math.
“How much better to get wisdom than gold, to get insight rather than silver!” —Proverbs 16:16 (NIV)
Contributors: Chris Huber and Denise C. Koenig, World Vision staff