The reality that all children around the world can have access to education is one step closer after the petition for Every Child. Everywhere. In School., spearheaded by the Adventist Church and its global humanitarian arm, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), surpassed one million online signatures in July.
“It’s indeed a blessing to see our global church family and ADRA standing up together in support of millions of children who don’t have access to education around the world. Our brothers and sisters have shown that we can be a powerful voice for change when we work together. Thank you to everyone who helped us reach one million signatures and for your strong commitment to making a meaningful difference in the lives of so many children worldwide. But our work doesn’t end here. We must now become agents of change in our communities and use our voices to ensure that every child, everywhere, has access to education and can reach God’s potential for their lives as they prepare themselves and others through the power of the Holy Spirit for Jesus’ soon coming,” says Ted Wilson, president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.
“Adventists around the world have spoken loudly and clearly that we care deeply about assuring access to education to millions of vulnerable children so that they can learn and thrive. The commitments of our church family and ADRA united to bring awareness to this global issue speak volumes. Thank you for standing up for the rights of all children everywhere. Let us continue to increase our efforts and magnify our voices on behalf of the children who have no voice,” says Dr. Ella Simmons, ADRA board vice-chair and general vice president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.
Getting It Done
Grassroots efforts for the education campaign kicked-off in October 2019 with the Adventist Church and ADRA urging support for the nearly 300 million children, adolescents and youth globally—or one in every five—who are out of school, according to a UNESCO report. This is a staggering number of children worldwide who need quality education, and live free from exploitation and intergenerational poverty. As a result, ADRA and Adventist church members in nearly 200 countries pledged their support to this issue, and momentum to get online signatures spread, including countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the South Pacific.
As the impact of the coronavirus grows, the importance for advocating for out-of-school children has significantly increased. Today, more families have become vulnerable due to joblessness, illness and other issues, which has affected their ability to pay for education leading to more children being out of school. In fact, there are 75 million school-aged children living in 35 crisis-affected countries who cannot get an education due to increased vulnerability, school closures and other issues as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a 2020 UNESCO report.
“We are facing a growing education gap, especially among vulnerable children. While one million signatures is a phenomenal milestone worth celebrating, we are only at the beginning. We are developing new global alliances with key organizations to amplify our voices. We need your ongoing support and commitment to ensure that we continue to make progress on this important issue. This is why we will be providing resources so that individuals, groups and churches, can speak up on this issue of access to education. We will also share essential details to give you a clear roadmap of what we need to advocate for. Let’s join forces and take this initiative much further,” says Michael Kruger, president for the Adventist Development and Relief Agency.
What Comes Next?
With the achievement of one million signatures and widespread support, the next step of the global campaign is for the Adventist Church and ADRA to come together to localize this effort in individual countries. The decisions about how education is delivered and funded are not made by global leaders, but by national and state leaders.
To localize this effort, the campaign will focus on the following:
- Define a clear ask to your government. Each country will create goals tailored specifically for their country’s education needs, and hone in on relevant education issues. Some key priorities will include: (1) Advocating for increased allocation of education funding in developing countries; (2) Increasing foreign aid assistance for education; and, (3) Improving social inclusion for marginalized children.
- Communicate your ask to your national leaders. Once the ask is identified, each country will strategize how to approach policy
makers and law enforcers to ensure all children have the opportunity to get an education. Key to this effort will be to communicate the campaign to the most relevant leaders and decision makers in each country. These communication pieces will need to include information about the campaign, the importance of education, what they can do to ensure every child is in school, the success of our global petition, and the tremendous grassroots support that is behind us.
To support the next phase, ADRA is developing a policy report that will analyze the state of out-of-school children around the globe and the policies and actions needed to address this. In addition, ADRA is also developing a resource kit for church ministry departments, local churches, youth groups and schools to continue their involvement beyond the petition. These resources will be available for distribution in October.
To download “The Next Step: From Support to Action Guide” and other key resources, go HERE.
In addition, ADRA has started an advocacy master class to build, implement, and evaluate an advocacy strategy tailored to a country. The course is designed to help countries understand how to effectively engage their leaders to bring about change. Additionally, a resource packet, including draft letter templates, a policy report, meeting guides, and more, will be made available at ADRA.org/InSchool/Resources.
Further information and resources about the Every Child. Everywhere. In School. initiative can be found by visiting ADRA.org/InSchool.
ABOUT EVERY CHILD EVERYWHERE IN SCHOOL
Every Child Everywhere in School is a global Adventist-led movement to ensure that every child everywhere in the world attends school, has access to free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education, and completes their education so they can fulfill their God-given potential. Learn more at ADRA.org/InSchool.
ABOUT THE SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST CHURCH
The Seventh-day Adventist Church is a Protestant Christian denomination which is distinguished by its observance of Saturday, the seventh day of the week in Christian and Jewish calendars, as the Sabbath, and its emphasis on the imminent Second Coming (advent) of Jesus Christ. The world church is governed by a General Conference with smaller regions administered by divisions, union conferences, and local conferences. It currently has a worldwide baptized membership of over 20 million people, and 25 million adherents. Learn more at https://www.adventist.org/
The Adventist Development and Relief Agency is the international humanitarian arm of the Seventh-day Adventist Church serving in 118 countries. Its work empowers communities and changes lives around the globe by providing sustainable community development and disaster relief. ADRA’s purpose is to serve humanity so all may live as God intended. For more information, visit ADRA.org.
This article originally appeared on Adventist News Network.