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  • Writer's picturedasia olivares

Invest in Girls' Education

Girls deserve to learn. It would be hard to find someone who would argue otherwise. We all agree that it’s a basic human right. Studies repeatedly show that raising the minimum level of literacy and math has far-reaching benefits, from the child and family, to the nation and its GDP, and on into future generations. Every educated child improves overall health and safety, not to mention employment opportunities. Knowing that education makes such a difference is really encouraging, especially when you consider how closely aligned child exploitation is with poverty.

A UNESCO Global Education Monitoring Report estimated that even a basic education could reduce the most severe poverty for 171 million people; and if adults all had a secondary education, the poverty rate could be reduced by at least half. Helping a girl to get even one more year of secondary schooling could increase her future income up to 25%. Meeting the minimum level of education certainly is vital, but it will take more than a reduction in poverty to erase the factors that make child exploitation so prevalent. More education could be part of the answer.

Girls in the Philippines are getting a primary-level education; the literacy rate in the Philippines is over 98%. Girls in the Philippines are more likely to finish school than boys, too. Rates of enrollment and completion of secondary school drops off from there. In 2017, only 78% of girls that completed primary school enrolled in lower secondary school (the next three years); attendance in upper secondary school dropped even further to 53.5% for girls (it’s even lower for boys). The Philippines extended compulsory education to include grades 11 and 12 in 2013 and invested 60% more into education, but still only 83% percent of enrolled female students completed secondary school in 2017. Increasing education is a focus in the Philippines; they are tackling big issues like hiring enough teachers, getting more books, and finding more classrooms. Ensuring secondary education will make a real difference so that future generations have more economic opportunity and more resources, but is it enough? Does ensuring “functional literacy” mean children will have the knowledge they need to become independent adults?

Those are the questions we ask when considering the education and potential of each girl in our care. Each has experienced abuse and is actively seeking freedom through God and education. Often, girls arrive in our homes with deficits in their schooling because of poor access or time away from the classroom. Our dedicated teachers are up to the task of helping each girl overcome the gaps in her studies. Providing high quality education in our caring homes ensures the foundation necessary for girls to complete secondary education and even advance beyond grade 12.

Consider the Lily’s commitment doesn’t stop when a girl attains a diploma. Unique among rescue homes, we aim to educate girls through university or a quality trade school, if they are able. Our reasoning isn’t based on studies, but simply the knowledge that the jobs paying a livable wage usually require more than grade-12 skills and, additionally, a command of the English language. Advancing a girl’s education is a powerful key to her independence, her success, and the success of those around her. Most women reinvest their time and income in their family and communities at the rate of 90%, further driving well-being and growth.

It’s about more than just future employment, though. An essential part of our work is our calling to help girls gain a sense of self-assurance and a love of God. Experience gives us a good picture of what can be achieved beyond the typical aim of better income. We see our graduates develop greater faith and purpose as they pursue more learning. They frequently express their gratitude and the desire to bring knowledge and freedom to others like them. As we support them in advancing their education, they are gaining more than literacy and job skills, they are enriched with love, the Word of God, and a motivation to serve.

In the swift 10-years of Consider the Lily’s setting its sights on helping each girl reach her potential, 10 young women have graduated college and found purpose in their work and service. Twenty-four girls are set to complete secondary school, and another 24 are getting a high-quality foundation of learning in our primary home schooling. We have so much achievement to feel joyful about! We look forward to helping so many more grow to become faithful, independent, thriving adults.

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