Investment or Expense? 

In a country where some children as young as five have to generate income, education seems an unaffordable investment. 

Can you imagine? A majority of young children in Madagascar work every day instead of going to school. Without education this cycle will continue. But, how do parents come to believe investing in education is worth the sacrifice, not the cost of tuition but  the value of the lost labor of their young children? Those parents have minimal, if any education themselves. So the cycle continues. 

Can we agree there is something very, very wrong with young children working instead of going to school? We aren’t talking about chores. Those often have great value. But the cumulative effect of thousands of  households depending upon the income generated by school aged children is staggering. 

It also is the reality in Madagascar which, depending upon which source cited, is judged to be the poorest country in the world. (Does it make any difference if it really is the third poorest country? I didn’t think so.) 

Education is valued when it is understood as an investment. The challenge is that the investment does not show a return for a number of years. 

What’s the wisdom about planting date trees? I don’t plant a date tree to eat its dates. I plant a date tree so my grandchildren will eat them.

Madagascar does not have enough trained teachers and it does not have enough classrooms. For many children this means that they will never set foot in school


Vincentians Have a Plan

This is why Vincentians in Fort Dauphin, Madagascar started Marillac School. In its more than 20 years of educating children, enough have graduated and gone on to college that it is proving the value of education. Though, the sacrifice of the families who send their children to school is great. So is the sacrifice of the teachers who teach there. But, ask any one of them if their life and the lives of their families are better today than they were or would have been, and they will say, “absolutely!” 

We know education is vital to break the cycle of generational poverty. Yet, In Madagascar, there are very few trained teachers. Not every town has a school. Where schools do exist, they don’t always have enough classrooms and desks for all the children in the area. This makes it easier for families to say, “Well, maybe one child will go to school. . .”  (You can bet that child will be a son, not a daughter.) 


Madagascar’s own research shows:

  • The average Malagasy adult completes fewer than four-and-a-half years of school. For every 100 children who enter the first grade, only 60 complete the full five-year cycle of primary school.


  • The low literacy rate is also a result of a shortage of qualified educators — more than 80 percent of teachers, have no formal training.


  • The total number of girls enrolled in public schools is almost 78 percent lower than that of boys. There are many reasons for this but poor sanitation is one of its causes.

Let’s return to Fort Dauphin where Vincentians and Daughters of Charity are leaders in helping to chart a more hopeful future. And hope is contagious. 

Right now, they are building classrooms to expand Marillac school. With more than 1,000 children enrolled, there still are more who want to come. They are making room, ensuring the buildings are sustainable, have proper sanitary facilities and provide enough food to eat that children can concentrate on learning. They also provide on-going education/training for teachers so that the service they provide to students is constantly improving. 

The goal is simple: get more children to attend school, learn, dream bigger, and stay in school. 

Imagine the long-term outcome. How much stronger, healthier, more stable will families in Fort Dauphin be with better educated adults leading their families, working better jobs? 

This week, we have a goal to raise $2500 for the Marillac school.

Would you agree this is a worthy goal? A worthy goal is worth an investment, don’t you think? 

Please, give today.

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