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Schools Are Not Just For Children

By Brad Skeba

People assume that the most important thing a quality school can do is to equip the next generation of children with the relevant skills they need to find gainful and meaningful employment. Children learn to read and write in the classroom - they learn to think, analyze and present information. They learn the skills they need to work and provide for themselves as they grow. But while the future employment potential of each child is indeed a very important and noble cause, it is not the only benefit a school provides. High-quality educational institutions also impact their surrounding communities in the immediate term - transforming neighborhoods and providing life-changing access to basic services. Throughout the developing world, dedicated school proprietors are transforming their communities by providing vital employment and infrastructure development.

When a school in the developing world is improved and the quality of the education increases, the impact is felt on an ecosystem-level. What this means is that we should think of schools not just as a place where learning happens, but as a place where jobs are created and communities are strengthened. Opportunity International sees this occur so often through the efforts of the dedicated school proprietors to whom we provide School Improvement Loans and training.

When a proprietor first comes to Opportunity, the state of their school varies in condition. Some schools are incredibly poor, lacking utilities such as electricity and clean water, while others are booming, offering dormitory services and transportation. No matter their place on the quality spectrum, a School Improvement Loan empowers immediate job creation. Some proprietors will use their loans to hire staff, and others will hire construction crews to create new structures and facilities. Either way, these loans boost not only some of the world’s most marginalized children through improved education facilities, but also the adults making such institutions possible.

Beyond such direct instances of job creation, when a school begins to thrive, it has the potential to change a whole community. When a school develops a reputation for quality, the community may become committed to improving a road way to make it easier for more students to attend. As enrollment grows, businesses such as tailors and textbook suppliers suddenly have increased demand for their products as more uniforms and books are needed. And because school proprietors usually start their schools because they are inspired to uplift the children in their community, their campuses often become essential gathering and meeting places for both parents and students alike.

Education in the developing world is often thought of as a topic that concerns only children, but the fact of the matter is that when you invest in schools, you invest in something greater, supporting the trajectory of entire communities for not only the future, but today.

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