TOOWOOMBA, QLD — As the world “goes blue” to mark World Children's Day (Nov. 20) GFA (formerly Gospel for Asia, www.gfaau.org) is bringing attention to another colour in its efforts to improve the lives of children at risk—the red line of poverty.
The organization spotlights the desperate plight of the near-770 million people around the world—many of them children—who live below the $1.90-a-day extreme poverty line, in a major new report on the importance of education in helping alleviate poverty.
With many children forced to work to help provide for their families, rather than attend school, this year's United Nations World Children's Day celebration emphasizes the right of every child to "fulfill their potential" through education. Supporters are being encouraged to promote the message of a brighter future for children by "Going Blue," and signing a petition calling on world leaders to ensure children's rights are protected.
The need for action is underscored by the GFA report—the latest in a series addressing key global issues—that tells how in 2014, some 263 million children and youth were not attending school. More than 70 percent of the out-of-school children who should have been in primary or secondary education lived in sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia.
"Poverty and low education are each self-perpetuating," the articles notes. "Those born into poverty (or illiterate households) often live the remainder of their lives in that same condition and have nothing more to offer their children. What’s more, it is as if poverty and low education have a magnetic attraction, relentlessly pulling those who are caught in one cycle deep into the other too."
The report, “Education's Impact on Poverty Eradication for Children & Families,” cites one study which found that if all the students in low-income countries left school with basic reading skills, more than 170 million people could be lifted out of poverty—the equivalent of a 12 percent cut in world poverty.
GFA is playing its part in that effort with an emphasis on nurturing children through some its many practical care programs. At GFA-supported Bridge of Hope community centers, thousands of children receive free tuition and health care. Meanwhile, simple hygiene lessons mean children who do attend school miss less days through sickness.
“When I think about the potential of these children, I am terribly excited to think about their future and all they will do and become,” said Dr. K.P. Yohannan, founder of GFA. “And not only these children but also their families and communities will benefit from the investment being made in their lives right now. But then I remember the millions of families still living a desperate, hand-to-mouth existence, and I am gripped to do everything I can to help them. So we will move forward, as an extension of the life of God, bringing more and more of them a better life.”