I remember the day my mother stopped helping me with my homework.
I was in middle school and struggling with how to calculate percentages, so I went to my mom for assistance. She stared blankly at my math questions for a few minutes and then quietly instructed me to only ask my father for homework support from then on. At the time, I thought my mom was just too exhausted and overworked from her hotel cleaning job to concentrate on my schoolwork. Years later, though, I learned that it wasn’t for lack of interest—my mom simply didn’t have enough education to help me with my studies.
Growing up in poverty in the Philippines, my mom dropped out of school after fifth grade to work and support her family. Unfortunately, the sacrifice she made is still all too common today.
An estimated 58 million children around the world are currently not in school. Of these children, 23% attended school but dropped out, 34% are expected to attend school in the future, and 43% are projected to never enter school.
What’s even more disturbing is how educational access differs between girls and boys. According to UNICEF, girls are less likely to begin school or maintain an education. Many live in poverty and cannot afford basic school fees or supplies. Others are forced to drop out of school due to child marriage, sexual violence, child labor, or inadequate access to sanitary facilities.
Every child should have access to quality education—without the fear of violence or discrimination. That’s why Sojourners’ Women and Girls campaign supports the World Day of Prayer and Action for Children (November 20)—a day when faith groups come together to take action to protect children’s rights.
People of faith can play an important role in helping each child of God realize his/her potential. Join us in standing up for education for every child—no matter who they are or where they are born.
When we invest in schooling for all children, lives are transformed for generations to come. For example, closing the education gap for girls reduces child marriage rates, leads to more income later in life, and lowers the rate of HIV/AIDS. Access to equal education is not only essential to building stronger economies and a healthy society, but it honors the God-given dignity of children.
My mom would agree: education is empowerment. It provides freedom and a better future—and no child in the world should be denied it.
Let us all pray that every child can go to school. And let’s join other faith communities to make sure it happens.
Elaina Ramsey is women and girls campaign associate at Sojourners.
Image: global countries pencil tree, Cienpies Design / Shutterstock