Singing for joy – and success!

Singing for joy – and success!

Christian children in Bangladesh are being set up to fail. But with your support, BMS World Mission can help them to change their futures. It all starts with a song.

A rickety bus winds its way around Bangladesh. It started the journey in Dhaka, the country’s restless capital. Many hours later it reaches a village, where a little girl called Ariysha is singing a rhyme:

Boys and girls come to pick flowers
Make a garland of flowers
Place it around your neck
And go to Uncle’s house

Ariysha is at preschool. For children like her, singing songs at school is a novelty. She is used to memorising for her primary school entrance exam. If she fails, she has little chance to continue her education. Doors of opportunity will swing shut. Her world will shrink. The pressure is on for Ariysha and her classmates. And it’s a wonder they’re in preschool at all.

With cramped classes and repetitive learning, many children don’t want to attend school – especially in poor, rural areas. Instead of going to school, children from the age of four collect heavy firewood or work out in the fields. Parents are also afraid that if their children don’t get into primary school, they will need to send them away to work and support the family. Girls as young as eight can be sent to work as live-in housekeepers, whilst boys can be hired out as manual labour.

Christian children, especially, are falling behind. Christian preschools in Bangladesh lack the most funding as Christians are a minority group in the country. There are simply not enough Christians to fund the preschools. This means children like Ariysha are often in large classes, don’t have the materials they need, and don’t pass the primary school entrance exam.

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Christian children are a minority and not a priority. Without the education they need, it’s harder for them to gain further education and therefore, stable jobs, in a country where they already face persecution for their faith. But BMS is changing that.

A Bangladeshi teacher stands in front of children wearing green school uniform.
Teacher Asio Kubi now teaches his class using songs and games.

Back on the rickety bus we find BMS educational consultant, Louise Proctor. Thanks to your support, she trains teachers in 25 Christian schools across the poorest, most rural parts of Bangladesh. Travelling for more than 15 hours to reach some schools, Louise shows teachers how to use games and songs in their teaching. Research has repeatedly shown that learning through play is much more effective than by rote.

“The very small children didn’t want to come to school before because they were scared…now they come every day. They are much more eager to learn than before!” teacher Asio Kubi says. Now parents are happy, seeing their children flourish. “I learnt to teach with joy, love and encouragement,” describes Asio. When a teacher enjoys teaching, children enjoy learning.

Children who enjoy going to school and learning are more likely to succeed.

Louise’s vision for the future is to coach local trainers. With their increased insight, they will be able to apply what they’ve been taught specifically to their villages. It’s a method of multiplication, meaning more schools will provide better quality education.

A man in a blue shirt and a woman in a pink top sit together and talk about education.
Louise Proctor and Asio work together to discuss the best ways to teach the class.

Thanks to BMS supporters, Ariysha now attends school with a smile. She learns by singing, by having fun and by understanding what she’s taught. But there are still children who are being left behind. Help to make Christian children in Bangladesh a priority. Help to give them a future that doesn’t include child labour or being sent away to work. Give what you can and pray for Bangladeshi children today. You may just give them the chance to succeed where no-one else could.

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Words by Melanie Webb

You can change a child’s life by praying today

You can change a child’s life by praying today

Extreme poverty, war and discrimination are denying children their right to an education as you read this. Your generous gifts to BMS are helping us to confront this injustice. And today, we’re asking you to support our education work with prayer too. Please read, pray and share this article so we can help more children in the countries featured below access life-transforming education.

Lebanon

Syrian and Iraqi refugee children in Lebanon are getting an education, thanks to you. Children who have had their lives shattered by conflict are being given hope for the future. Not only are they being taught, they are being treated with the love and respect that every child deserves.

• Pray that these children are able to concentrate on what they’re being taught and feel safe in their environment. Pray that they would love learning.

• Pray for wisdom and energy for the teachers, as they work with children who have suffered unimaginable trauma.

Children sitting at desks in school raise their hands to answer a question
Refugee children are back in the classroom in Lebanon after fleeing the horror of conflict in Syria and Iraq.

Bangladesh

Preschools across rural, very poor parts of Bangladesh are being supported by you. Boys and girls are being taught about letters and numbers, with BMS worker Louise Proctor training local teachers to give great lessons using free or cheap resources. We’re also helping to educate the children of mission workers at a school in Dhaka.

• Pray that the preschools will be a springboard to enable children to keep attending school, and that the children will be encouraged by their parents.

• Pray that the teachers will be equipped to provide stimulating lessons for the children, and can access all the resources they need.

Children sit in lines in a shed in Bangladesh. They are all staring at a teacher who is taking the lesson.
Children in rural Bangladesh are captivated as BMS worker Louise Proctor helps with a school lesson.

Kosovo

Underprivileged children and adults from marginalised and minority people groups in Kosovo are being given the chance to learn English thanks to your support for BMS teachers. More than 50 per cent of young people in Kosovo are unemployed and 30 per cent of the population live below the poverty line.

• Pray for BMS’ education work amongst marginalised people in Kosovo.

• Pray that young girls would have equal access to education, and that our workers would have the resources to help them.

• Pray for God to guide BMS workers Rose* and Robert* as they serve in education in Kosovo.

Albania

We’re working to help children from Roma and Egyptian communities access education. These children are shunned by Albanian society and live in abject poverty. We’re also helping further God’s mission in Albania by providing education for mission workers’ children at GDQ International Christian School.

• Pray for the children who want to learn, but are stopped from attending school regularly because of reasons out of their control. Pray for a sense of hope for them.

• Pray for the children who struggle in school because of extreme poverty.

• Pray for increased resources for the science department at GDQ in Tirana, and pray for renewed energy for BMS mission workers Chris and Debbie Carter, Mat and Suzanne Gregory, and Jill Morrow.

Two girls sit at a table, drawing pictures on pieces of paper
You can help children in Albania know what it feels like to have a happy, fulfilling education.

Peru

Children from poor families attend an after-school club at the BMS-founded El Puente Baptist Church in the city of Cusco. They’re helped with their homework, learn about God, and play games.

• Pray that more children attend the club, and see the value in an education.

• Pray that other members of the church get involved and use their blessings to help the children.

• Pray for Denise and Melany, who run the club. Pray they would feel encouraged by the difference they are making to young people’s lives.

Children sit on a stage in front of musical equipment. They are smiling and waving at the camera.
These children have been learning and having fun at a BMS-founded church in Peru.

Nepal

BMS is working to transform children’s lives by improving teaching in Nepali schools. Teacher training written by BMS worker Annie Brown is being rolled out across the country. We do this work in partnership with the Kathmandu International Study Centre (KISC), where mission workers’ children are taught, with BMS support.

• Pray for the Nepali teachers receiving training, sometimes for the first time. Pray that they would go on to transform the lives of the children in their classrooms.

• Pray that poverty won’t stop children in Nepal attending school. Pray they would have all they need to learn.

• Pray for the students preparing to sit exams at KISC, and for the KISC staff as they settle into the school’s new site.

Two girls sitting at desks look at a school book
Children in Nepal have been learning through new teaching methods, thanks to your support for school teachers in the country.

Guinea

Boys from deprived communities are learning formal rules and structure through a football club set up by BMS mission worker Ben*.

Summer classes have also been set up by Ben and his wife Isabelle* – who is a teacher – helping not only the boys, but other children, too.

• Pray that the boys would continue to be inspired to learn and develop, and that education and football would give them a great sense of self-worth.

• Pray for Ben, that he would have the resources, time and energy he needs to help the boys who come to him.

Players of the Blessed Boys Football Club in Guinea train and play a match.
Boys in Guinea are not only improving their football skills thanks to your support, they’re being helped with their schoolwork too.

China

We support teachers in China, helping students at a nursing college improve their English language skills.

• Pray the students would feel encouraged in their studies, and form strong friendships with their classmates.

• Pray for energy for our workers, in both their teaching and in their personal relationships.

India

Street children in Kolkata are learning reading, writing and arithmetic through the BMS-supported Street Servants team, led by our worker Ben Francis. Our team is working hard to set up a second school, which will give more children a chance to learn the skills they need to change their futures. We also support other education initiatives in India.

• Pray that children at the street school would have an incredible appetite for learning. Pray they would sense God’s presence in their lessons.

• Pray that the children’s parents would understand the importance of a good education, and would continue to allow their children to attend the school.

A girl walks towards other children standing under a bridge in India
School is being brought to street children in Kolkata, giving them the opportunity to learn.

Mozambique

Young children from poor backgrounds are being given the best possible preparation for school through the PEPE preschool initiative started and supported by BMS. Children are being taught important lessons like colours, numbers and the alphabet in creative ways.

• Pray that the children enjoy their preschool lessons and want to keep learning.

• Pray for the resources to help more children from disadvantaged communities.

• Pray for BMS worker Liz Vilela, who has been training new PEPE teachers in child protection. Pray that Liz would find ways to overcome any obstacles she faces in her work, and that the teachers put into practice what they’ve learnt.

Children in Mozambique pray during a school lesson
Children in Mozambique are not only being given a preschool education, they are also learning about Jesus.

Education is critical in helping children who are poor, disadvantaged and persecuted walk towards a better life – a life that we know is possible.

Through your donations and prayers you are enabling us to help children access education. Please share this story right now to encourage others to pray.

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Are you a teacher? Come and work with us

Inspired by the education work we do? We’re looking for teachers to serve in countries such as Uganda, Afghanistan, Guinea and Albania.

You can be the person who helps change a young person’s life for the better. Take the first step by clicking here to find out more. We’d love to hear from you.

* Names changed for security reasons

Education in Mozambique: faith like mangoes

Education in Mozambique:

faith like mangos

Doing preschool education differently is changing attitudes and lives in Mozambique, thanks to your giving to BMS World Mission.

Joanna holds onto a mango plant in front of her class of preschool children in Mozambique. As the four-year-olds stare at the plant and she speaks, a link is being imprinted in their brains. A is for árvore. A is for tree.

A letter of the alphabet is not the only lesson the children will learn from the mango plant today. Joanna takes them outside and digs a hole in the ground. She places the plant inside and fills the hole in. She tells her class how it will grow into a mango tree and bear fruit, something they will see for themselves over the coming months and years. The mango tree has become a science illustration.

Using visual aids in teaching is unremarkable in the UK, but in some parts of Mozambique it is revolutionary. Children are used to rote-learning, absorbing facts from lectures from their teachers or copying them down from the blackboard, not from seeing real-life examples. It is brand new for the teachers too. Joanna would not have taught this way before she started working for PEPE, a preschool initiative started and supported by BMS.

In this short video, Liz explains her hope that BMS’ emphasis on caring for children and ensuring their safety, will not only impact the teachers and children at school but families in Mozambique too.

A mango tree is a great teaching illustration for preschool children in Mozambique

What BMS is doing through PEPE is giving young children the best possible preparation for school. They certainly need it. Half of all children in Mozambique do not progress beyond primary school, making their futures precarious. The initiative is currently being run by churches in 60 disadvantaged areas across the country, with more starting this year. Over 3,500 children from poor backgrounds are learning basic lessons like colours, numbers and the alphabet in creative, interactive ways, preparing them for a good start in school. They are also introduced to stories about Jesus, so are growing in their knowledge of him, too.

Children in a PEPE class

It is so much more than just teaching. BMS wants these children to feel they are loved and valued in a society which doesn’t always make them think that way.

“Children don’t really have a childhood here,” says BMS mission worker Liz Vilela, who plays a key role, working alongside the national co-ordinator for PEPE in Mozambique. “They grow up ready to do things around the house, to look after their brothers and sisters. They are just waiting to be adults.”

BMS wants to offer Mozambican children the educational opportunities that will help them in adult life, but we also want them to enjoy childhood – as children. Play is not universally valued as a way of learning in Mozambique, but we are trying to change that. At one of the preschools, we have been trialling times of free play twice a week, using toys. Liz has been helping the preschool develop this and they have seen an instant impact on the children. At first, the children were bemused that they could play with whatever they liked.

One boy who decided to do some colouring asked Liz: “What should I draw?”

“Anything you would like to,” Liz replied.

She soon noticed the freedom this gave the boy to be creative, something he was not used to. “It was great to see him really engaging with his drawings and excited to tell me what he was drawing,” she says.

Since the free play experiment began, the co-ordinator at the preschool has noticed that children are fighting less and behaving better. Minds are being opened to the value of play.

One of Liz’s passions is that the children feel protected and safe, again something which is not always the case. Tragically an 18-month child who attended Liz’s church recently drowned in a puddle when his parents weren’t around.

Liz is spearheading a child protection policy for our preschool ministries in Mozambique, ensuring that teachers receive training on topics like nutrition and hygiene so that children will eat more healthily and be less susceptible to illness. In impoverished and under-resourced areas, training like this is far from the norm. Liz recently organised first aid training which prompted some surprising questions. One teacher asked if giving a child a shoe to bite on would be helpful if they were having a seizure, something traditionally taught. The nurse leading the training corrected this misconception and told them what they should do. If they take her advice on board, lives could be saved in future.

Through your giving to BMS, you are enabling preschool education ministries like this to flourish. You are making it possible for more churches to start running PEPEs and transforming the lives of more disadvantaged young children. “With the help and support BMS gives, PEPE is growing in quality, as well as numbers,” says Liz. “Local people running it know that they have someone by their side helping them – they are not trying to do it on their own. BMS support is allowing this work to grow.”

With the help and support BMS gives, PEPE is growing in quality, as well as numbers

BMS is giving first aid training to preschool teachers in Mozambique.
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Like the mango tree, our prayer is that these young people will grow and bear fruit for themselves, their families and the country of Mozambique.