Monday, September 7, 2009

The High Cost of Education

It’s back-to-school time for Nigerian children. American children sport first-day-of-school outfits and backpacks filled with sharp tipped crayons, notebooks, calculators, and Twinkies. Nigerian children, at least most of the ones I meet who are fortunate enough to even GO to school, sport overpriced school uniforms (mandatory) and have families whose ‘feeding money’ is depleted to pay for school fees and books. Let’s see, shall we eat this month or send little Musa to school?

Minimum wage at Faith Alive is 10,000 Naira a month, or 120,000 Naira yearly (double the national standard). That’s about $70 a month, or $840 a year (U.S. dollars). There’s no free education here, with the lowest yearly tuition, books, and uniforms costing at least N25,000 PER CHILD. Now figure a Faith Alive staff widow with three children of school age needing to pay N75,000 -- over half her salary. Let’s see, which one of my three children will I enroll in school?

I was losing heart until Mark and I visited Elim Elementary School today. The school founder and headmistress is Kate Clement, and she restored my faith that God IS providing for the poorest of the poor. The daughter of a widow who sacrificed for her children’s education, she invites area widows to bring their children to Elim at no cost to them (thanks to those of you who sponsor these children!). We met with seven widows whose children receive these scholarships, and they pass along their sincere gratitude. With Kate’s example, these children will one day have good jobs and ‘pay it forward’.

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