International (MNN) — More kids are getting a chance to go to school.
Recent figures from the United Nations (UN) show a slight fall in the number of kids globally without access to schools. In 2010, the number stood at 61 million; recent figures show a decline to 57 million.
"The fact that there are still 57 million kids who don't have that opportunity to get an education is a real concern," says Matt Parker of Kids Alive International.
He references the UN's Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), eight objectives established in 2000 to help improve life in the world's poorest countries by 2015. The MDGs primarily focus on three areas: enhancing human capital, improving infrastructure, and increasing social, economic, and political rights.
Regarding education, the UN's MDG is to "ensure that by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling." With the clock ticking and 57 million kids left to go, accomplishing this MDG seems highly unlikely.
"Progress in getting children back into school has been far less than really had been hoped for," Parker states.
According to the UN's recent report, over half of the kids missing out on an education live in sub-Saharan Africa.
"Part of the problem is that there are simply not enough schools to meet the educational needs of all children," says Parker. "For many of them, getting to a school is beyond their reach."
Even if there's a school within walking distance, Parker says it's often too expensive to attend.
"In South Sudan, for example, it costs about $100 a year to put a child into school," he says. "But for many families, that's just not possible; that's beyond what they can afford."
That's why Kids Alive steps in to help cover expenses. In some countries, Kids Alive is even opening its own schools.
"Our goal is that every child that Kids Alive works with is able to reach their full potential," says Parker.
"That involves getting them a quality education; it's a critical piece in reducing poverty. Providing children with education is absolutely vital."
In addition, children helped by Kids Alive get more than an education. They get to hear about Jesus.
"The hope of Christ is a core part of everything Kids Alive does," Parker states. "It's a part of every education program that we operate, teaching children about the love of Christ."
In each Kids Alive school, there are opportunities to participate in devotions and Bible teachings are incorporated into students' lessons. Students are also provided with mentoring and support, and are encouraged to put their faith in Christ.
"We want to see these kids get the best possible start in life," says Parker. "People could help by sponsoring a child, or [by] making a donation toward our Advanced Education Program."
Click here to help more kids get into school. There's a way you can help right now, too.
"People can be praying: praying for children in these communities, for improved educational opportunities for them," says Parker.
"We're seeing a lot of countries decrease the level of aid that they provide. So let's pray that governments in the West will take this seriously, as well."