International (MNN) — Today is World Teachers’ Day — a day to raise awareness on both the right to teach and the need for qualified teachers around the world. This year, it also marks the 70th anniversary for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, where education is noted as a critical human right.
This need for teachers is especially evident in refugee camps. The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) recently reported approximately four million refugee children are not in school — a half a million increase from last year.
Harold Klassen with TeachBeyond says it can sometimes be easier to focus on the very real physical needs facing refugees but neglect the more involved process of providing refugee kids with an education.
“Teachers have a really often unappreciated role in equipping each generation to flourish in God’s world…. Without a teacher, after the physical needs are met at the moment, there is often very little hope and little opportunity for the people to be able to make progress beyond the immediate, rather dire circumstances they find themselves in.”
When refugee kids and teens have no hope, even false hope becomes attractive and puts them at risk. “Radical extremism offers really a very illusionary hope, but if it’s the only thing that is offered, they will be all too ready to accept it.”
TeachBeyond offers Christian education around the world to bring positive transformation to communities. Part of their work involves providing children education in refugee camps.
Klassen admits there are challenges to teaching in a refugee setting such as the short-term nature of many positions and generally being out of one’s comfort zone. There is currently a shortage of teachers available for refugee children.
“It’s hard to leave a teaching position and then just go for three months and come back to some other position. That makes it especially difficult for people to get involved. Then there’s a lot of uncertainty and the constant change is not something many teachers are automatically prepared for. So there is a need for people who are able to go and…love continually and make the most of very uncertain circumstances.”
The outcome, however, makes investing in refugee children so worth it.
“Bringing in people that have an eternal perspective, have love, and are willing to invest their time and energy in the lives of children and young people, it gives them an understanding that there is something they can depend on and look forward to.”
TeachBeyond is looking for more teachers to join them in reaching refugee kids — not just with an education, but with the hope of Jesus.
So who are they looking for? According to Klassen, “We really need people who are able to engage with children and young people. The more that you can do, the better. But anyone that has the ability to work with people and to teach language and to use the language more than teaching it academically, we will be able to [work with] them.”
You don’t necessarily have to be a teaching professional to join TeachBeyond, even if qualifications do help significantly.
“The better qualified a person is, the more tools they have to be able to respond to the situation that they’re in [and] the better they will be accepted and be able to move into a place where there is a lot of uncertainty and suspicion.”
Click here to learn more about serving with TeachBeyond!
As Klassen says, teaching isn’t just a job. It’s a calling, especially when it means serving those in need.
“To go and make a difference in the lives of people that don’t have the same kinds of opportunities is a place where God is interested in working. He is interested in the widows and the orphans, and we need to be involved with the things that He is concerned about, not just the things that make our lives comfortable.
“I think the world needs Christian teachers because without the Body of Christ getting involved and taking responsibility for the next generation to prepare them to flourish in God’s World, someone else will. Instead of life-giving hope and responsibility based on love and truth, they will be led on a path of despair paved with lies and leading to destruction.”
As we recognize World Teachers’ Day, there are several things you can do to support and encourage men and women who are pouring into the minds and lives of children.
“I think one way is to appreciate the teachers, wherever they are. They have a huge job to shape the next generation. Only with the power of God’s Holy Spirit can they do that effectively,” advises Klassen.
“The second step is to support those who do go into difficult situations…. We need the Body of Christ to support those who are willing to go but need to have resources so they can provide education to people who can’t pay for it.
“They can also pray because really learning to see all of life and learning as related to God and His Word is a spiritual battle. Spiritual battles are fought and won in prayer.”
To learn more about TeachBeyond’s ministry, click here.