BARRANQUILLA, COLOMBIA (October 5, 2016) – The Evangelical Covenant Church of Colombia operates six elementary schools that serve children in the most vulnerable communities of Barranquilla, Medellin, and Bogota.
“The Covenant in Colombia is committed to the whole mission of the whole church and their commitment to children’s education is an example of this,” says Katie Isaza, an ECC missionary to Colombia who does educator training. “The schools and the teachers are committed to giving their students quality education, while tangibly showing Jesus’ love.”
It is the work needed to lift families and countries out of poverty and the kind of commitment being celebrated today as part of the United Nation’s World Teachers Day. This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of a 1996 international agreement that set forth the rights and responsibilities of teachers as well as international standards for their international preparation and further education, recruitment, employment, teaching and learning conditions.
According to its website, “This year’s theme, “Valuing Teachers, Improving their Status”, embodies the fundamental principles of the fifty-year-old Recommendation while shining a light on the need to support teachers as reflected in the agenda’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). A specific education goal, SDG4, pledges to “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”.
The ECC has always recognized the importance of educators in holistic development of child and adult students and the countries in which they live. In the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Ethiopian camps for South Sudanese refugees, churches have committed themselves to starting schools and developing teachers. Elsewhere, Covenanters and missionaries also are educating educators.
In Congo, Justin Kolefiemogo, a third grade teacher at Mosumbala Primary School in Gemena, wrote in a status report to Covenant Kids Congo partner World Vision, “Our school got a great change. Children are now coming every day [to] school. Their writing skills and handwriting have improved; they are protected from the rain. The number of children has increased.”
The Covenant Kids Congo program has built three new schools in the city of Gemena, which has vastly improved the education for approximately 4,000 students. About 370 teachers and administrators have been trained on school management, vocational training curriculum, and new French and math curriculum.
Thirty community members have been trained to supervise the 14 new reading clubs. stations (toilets and handwashing facilities) have been built at three schools.
Cat Knarr, the CKC project manager, said she was happy with the success, but added that in the area, that four out of five 15-year-olds have not reached basic reading levels. “It’s starting to change, but it is a long ongoing process. We celebrate the progress that’s being made but also know that there’s much more to be done.”
In Gambella, Ethiopia, Covenant World Relief has helped the Evangelical Covenant Church of South Sudan and Ethiopia develop its Vulnerable Orphan and Children Program. Currently 183 refugee children are being supported through the program that is being provided in four areas.
Covenant missionaries also are teaching students at various levels in Japan, Ecuador, Cameroon, Mexico, Russia, and elsewhere.