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August 16, 2016

Education for Sustainable Development

Raising children of integrity in 3,000 schools around the world

An open-air lesson at Asuano Kindergarten, Ghana.

With more than 3,000 schools educating in excess of 600,000 children, Salvation Army schools are central to the mission objectives of the Army’s work around the world, each possessing a unique approach to education and differing in their relationships with the government, local community and donors.

These schools each face unique challenges of the communities in which they reside. Often these schools are positioned in areas of severe economic disadvantage or neglect, where social, economic and spiritual poverty predominate. Such challenges require the Army to break down barriers to education and to add value in other ways—often through the provision of a safe, nurturing classroom environment where students are given the confidence and means to thrive.

In 2013, an International Schools Strategy identified the vision for Salvation Army Schools as developing “compassionate children of integrity and character with the relevant skills, knowledge and understanding to achieve their God-given potential … by developing high-quality, holistic, faith-based and family-focused education prioritizing vulnerable and marginalized children.”

Howard Dalziel, the coordinator and strategist for the Army’s international network of schools, notes that national coordinators and school leadership teams provide quality education in Army schools around the world.

Children gather in a corps community center computer area in Cubatão, Brazil.

Dalziel’s current focus is on providing guidance to a number of schools in Indonesia, Pakistan, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo, Guatemala, Kenya, Tanzania, Bangladesh, Haiti and India. He is supported by The Salvation Army World Service Office (SAWSO), along with development offices including Holland, Switzerland, Canada, Norway and Sweden.

“We want to focus our efforts at the ground level, in schools and the surrounding communities”
Douglas Bell

The newly-launched education sector strategy focuses on improving learning outcomes by building teacher capacity, increasing access to effective teaching and learning materials, facilitating access to vocational training for youth and engaging family and community members so they will participate in their children’s education. 

“We want to focus our efforts at the ground level, in schools and the surrounding communities,” says Douglas Bell, technical advisor for education for SAWSO.

For example, The Army’s home for the hearing impaired in Darjeeling, India is the only such school in northeast India and boasts an impressive success rate of post-schooling employment for its students.

Home for the hearing impaired in Darjeeling, northeast India has an impressive record of post-secondary employment.

The school is widely known as a center of academic and sporting excellence thanks to the devotion of teachers, its nurturing environment and, of course, the determination of its students.

We want quality education that enables them to develop skills that mean they can make a meaningful contribution to their community and society once they’ve left school,” Daziel says. “We ensure they are as employable as possible. They have options for career support. They often go on to become physiotherapists, college lecturers or government workers.”

The Army’s efforts to break down barriers to education include combatting issues such as sanitation—(vital if girls are to attend secondary school), providing special needs education opportunities in marginalized communities and meeting the educational needs of members of tribes or castes who would not otherwise be accepted into mainstream schools.

A Salvation Army program in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, supported by the Army in the Netherlands, is geared toward children who come from areas of conflict and civil war. The focus of the Dutch projects is “to get students back to school and get teachers working together as a way to normalize life and work in post-conflict scenarios.”

Some of the schools are in remote villages and are often the only ones available.

In the community of Trivandrum in the India South Western Territory, a number of children with learning disabilities—who would not be accepted in other schools—are attending school at The Salvation Army. The Army is currently constructing a large science building for the school.

“The key to having the ability to learn and make a meaningful contribution is having a sense of self-respect and self-worth,” said Dalziel. “Children go to school to learn, but modern-day education needs to focus on increasing that sense of self-confidence that enables them to use what they learned effectively.”

In all of The Salvation Army’s learning programs and institutions, the primary goal remains: to reach the “lost and the least” by demonstrating God’s love for every member of society.

To help or learn more about any of the worldwide services of The Salvation Army, contact The Salvation Army World Services Office at sawso.org or (703) 684-5500.

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