Much progress has been achieved in the education of all children in the developing regions including the most challenging Sub-Saharan African region over the last decade and a half. However, because of regional disparities in the distribution, delivery, and access to educational services, there is still much work to do. We have witnessed increased enrolment, improvements in retention, and increases in youth literacy in developing regions. The United Nations has set the goal to Achieve Universal Primary Education, and although we have been moving toward this, the agenda for education has been appropriately expanded to achieving “Quality Education” in United Nation’s wide, diverse and ambitious new development goals in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 2030.
This goal may still be illusive for developing regions, in part because it fails to promote true education. Within the context of Adventist education, universal quality education for all children is not a new concept, having resonated from the pen of inspiration in the form of the philosophy true education and having been embedded in the Adventist education philosophy and working policy. According to Ellen White, the foundation of true education is a knowledge of God and Jesus Christ as Saviour, and commitment of lives to Him, which leads to transformation into His righteous character.
In December 2016 during the Tasitel Adventist Students Convention on Mussau Island in Papua New Guinea, a rapid rural survey was done with 150 Adventist school children and youth attending both Adventist and non-Adventist schools around the country from grade 1 through college, asking three questions:
1) What were the three most positive outcomes of your education in 2016?
2) What were the three most negative outcomes of your education in 2016?
3) What solutions do you suggest for each major issue raised?
A group of parents in the community were also invited to contribute their knowledge on their perceptions of educational outcomes of Adventist education.
The survey results indicated that true education that leads to transformation of the character of youth in later years is desired by Adventist school children and parents in this developing region. This true education is perceived by subjects as providing an integral growth and development in social, mental and physical aspects for the well-being of the whole person. Each grade group noted the importance of true education. In Grades 1-2 and 9-12, students emphasised that regular class worships leading to spiritual growth had a positive effect on their educational experience in 2016, while Grades 3-4 emphasised a process of seeking and knowing Jesus Christ, and Grades 5-6, 7-8, and 11-12 emphasised that the worship programs in Adventist educational institutions increased their knowledge of God during the year. Adventist School students and parents were unashamed to share the religious values gained from our educational system.
As Adventist educators, we should focus on developing our students’ characters and connection with Christ and make sure our curricula and the atmospheres of our schools reflect this focus.
Note: Article written and posted in English