Advent 2019 #9: The Gift of School

Gift Two

I don’t think the teenagers that will sit in front of me today are considering school a ‘gift’ at this time of year; but it is one.

When I went to Indonesia in July this year and met with my sponsor children, I also met with a number of other families living in poverty who are being sponsored, or hoping to be sponsored, by a Compassion donor.

I remember one family’s story: their youngest son wouldn’t be receiving his report at the end of this school year because they didn’t have enough money to pay for it. That was how the system worked.

You want a school report? You pay for it.

It’s certainly a good way to reduce your report writing load as a teacher. I think we should institute it in Australia. I am intrigued by the number of parents who turn up to a parent/teacher interview night who haven’t read their child’s report yet. Some don’t even know that it exists. I spent time writing that, you know…

I digress…

However, there is one part of the ‘pay for your school report’ system that I’m not in favour of implementing: you don’t get your report and you don’t move on to the next grade next year. In fact, you can’t come back to school again until you have paid for it.

Many families living in poverty can’t afford the report. So next year, it’s no education for these children.

Education changes lives. Education breaks poverty cycles.

Education enlightens people. It tells them: you can be something; do something.

Give a gift of education to a child and you tell them that they are important.

At times I feel that the Church sends the wrong message about humanity. It’s such a ‘downer’. You’re sinners. You are nothing compared to God. You need to give up your desires and find God’s desires instead.

It’s a very soul destroying message (ironic really). And whist I agree with all of those things above, if the message isn’t tempered properly, it’s very easy to get the wrong idea about God.

Humanity is actually very important to God. If we weren’t important, why would Jesus have ever come at Christmas time?

Just stay in heaven: it’s a far better place that this planet. But he didn’t.

Plans to prosper you and not to harm you”; that’s what God wants for humanity.

Jesus came to heal humanity; to heal communities and see them prosper. That doesn’t necessarily mean he wants people to have a lot of money. However, he does want them to experience what is “good” and not “harm”. Because humanity is important to God: collectively and individually.

It’s not just children in poverty who can enjoy the gift of education this Christmas.

Perhaps realising that you’re important to God is a good lesson for you.

Yours in teaching,


Photo by Oleg Zaicev on

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