Educating the World
“And they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest” (Hebrews 8:11).
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The Education World Forum (EWF) is a ministerial education seminar held annually in London, England. Education ministers from around the world gather to debate future practice in education. More than 300 participants from over 70 countries — representing over 80 percent of the world’s population — will attend the 2016 Forum from January 17-20. Their purpose will be to make an honest assessment of common issues and challenges. Among issues discussed will be the significant expansion of access to primary school education in developing countries, spurred by initiatives such as the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. These goals, first published in 2000, included achieving universal primary education by 2015. The top ten education systems in the world were recently published by Pearson through The Learning Curve — a global project to help influence education policy and practices, at local, regional and national levels. This is the largest ever global school rankings published. Not surprising, Asian countries dominated the top five places and African countries placed at the bottom.
Literacy Problems Still Exist
In 2010, the global rate of adult literacy climbed to 84 percent, according to data published by The United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the agency that monitors worldwide literacy. Some countries have made significant progress. In Nepal, only 17 percent of women could read in 1990, but now over 50 percent can read. Yet UNESCO remains less than optimistic that all countries can achieve the goals set in 2000.
As part of its yearly review process, UNESCO measures progress towards the Millennium Development Goals to which member countries pledged. One of those goals was for every child to have access to a school place before 2015. UNESCO not only warned that those promises to provide primary schools for all children were unlikely to be kept, but also that education is going down rather than increasing in many of the countries that need it the most. There is no doubt that great strides have been made amongst countries experiencing economic prosperity, but poverty and marginalization greatly impacts the 72 million children who remain unschooled and lack access to primary learning.
DoSomething.org, one of the largest organizations for young people promoting social change, publishes these facts about worldwide education:
- As of 2012, 31 million primary-school pupils worldwide dropped out of school
- In the sub-Sahara, over 11 million children leave school before completing their primary education
- Fifty-three percent of the world’s out-of-school children are girls and two-thirds of the illiterate people in the world are women.
- In Africa, areas exist where there is less than 50 percent literacy among children ages 18 and under, UNESCO reports that 61 million primary school-age children were not enrolled in school in 2010. Of these children, 47 percent were expected never to enter school, 26 percent attended but left, and another 27 percent are expected to attend sometime in the future.
Of those countries committed, only China, Indonesia and Iran reached the international goal of halving their illiteracy rate by 2015. More than 775 million people remain illiterate, and over 150 million children will likely follow due to not attending school. Many of these live in developing countries where families must pay for their schooling. Decisions must be made as to which, if any, of their children will attend school.
UNESCO concludes that while progress has been made, achieving the 2015 goal of a universal, free and quality education for the world’s children will likely take another 70 years!
God’s 1000-Year Plan for Education
Solomon tells us that the basis of all true knowledge is the fear of the Lord (Proverbs 1:7). The word fear here does not carry the idea of terror or dread; rather, it is awe and reverence for the holiness and majesty of God and a reluctance to disappoint or disobey Him. Jesus said that when we know the truth, the truth will make us free (John 8:32). Freedom from fear comes from being educated in Truth.
Earthly organizations believe education is the cure for society’s ills. However, education, of itself, does not combat ungodliness. Paul says that knowledge, apart from the love of God, leads to pride (1 Corinthians 8:1). Nicodemus was “Israel’s teacher,” yet he could not grasp the concept of spiritual life (John 3:10). Paul was a highly educated man, trained in the best Jewish school of his day (Acts 22:3). He used his education to communicate effectively to people of many cultures (Acts 17:28, Titus 1:12). Yet Paul’s education did not make him holy (1 Timothy 1:16), and he warned of those “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7 NAS). Simply knowing facts does not make one a better person. It is possible to be a highly-educated fool.
God has promised a future time when true knowledge and education will reach every person on earth. This work begins at Christ’s return, when a righteous kingdom is established amidst the nations of the day: “In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever” (Daniel 2:44 NAS). The Bible says that one of the early signs that this kingdom is at hand is the return of Israel to their ancestral homeland. Through that nation, God will institute a covenant with all people (Jeremiah 31:31-34). Their education will be managed by the group known as the Ancient Worthies — those who by faith exhibited their worthiness to be teachers and leaders in Christ’s kingdom (Hebrews 11). This education process will begin with a resurrection of all people from the dead.
Apostle Paul writes, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Corinthians 15:22.) He speaks of this same hope in Acts 24:14,15 (NIV): “I worship the God of our ancestors as a follower of the Way, which they call a sect. I believe everything that is in accordance with the Law and … the Prophets and I have the same hope in God as these men themselves have, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked..”
In the resurrection into Christ’s kingdom, people will come back from the grave with the same memory and thoughts they had when they went into the grave. The laws of righteousness must be taught and they must learn the benefits of keeping them. “When thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness” (Isaiah 26:9).
This education will include every person who is living now or who has ever lived. Isaiah describes it as a learning process that leads to holiness.
“An highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein. No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon, it shall not be found there; but the redeemed shall walk there: And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy… they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away” (Isaiah 35:8-10).
That program will be so complete that all will hear its message. Ones beginning the highway as non believers will be believers by its end. The way will be so clear that even fools shall not err therein.
The theme text describes the completeness of this schooling. “They shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them … for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more” (Jeremiah 31:34). How we look forward to that day!