An unbelievable number of people still do not have access to the basic human rights of education: according to one estimate, 69 million children and 774 million adults. Most are in the world’s poorest countries. This is despite the fact that achieving universal primary education is one of the Millennium Development Goals, which the international community committed itself to achieving by 2015.
CJI supports education programmes, which promise to give a “future and a hope” (cfr Jeremiah 29:11) to the poorest of the poor, who otherwise would not have a chance to go to school. In Nepal and Darjeeling, the children of tea estate workers, indigenous peoples, stonebreakers and those afflicted by leprosy go to the schools run by our partners. These schools are either free or charge a nominal fee, and usually provide daily meals for their students. In Jamaica, the Jesuits focus on education as an alternative to violence for youth living in the slums, who have few options for the future.
The Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), one of our partners, has a strong pedagogical focus based on the belief that education restores the wounded dignity of refugees and plants seeds of hope, stability and normality in the fluid and uncertain existence in exile. JRS actively promotes more access of girls to education.
Education is also crucial to the struggle against HIV/AIDS. School education especially has been shown to be highly effective in contributing to a reduction in HIV prevalence among young people and in transforming the environments of poverty and gender inequality in which HIV/AIDS flourish.