“Church Educational System Scholarship Fund: A Way for You to Help Needy Students,” Ensign, Oct. 1975, 76–77
“Some members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, especially new converts in developing nations, need additional schooling to gain the necessary literacy skills to compete in the labor market and to provide leadership in their families, in the Church, and in the community. Many of these members need financial assistance to use available educational opportunities.
“A Church Educational System scholarship fund has been established to help solve this problem.” (CES Scholarship Fund prospectus, 1974.)
Consider the following five circumstances:
A 21-year-old member of the Church in Mexico has been working as a maid to help support her family since her father lost his job. She cannot obtain a higher-paying job until she graduates from secondary school. All of her money is needed by her family, and she cannot save anything for school fees or books.
A Latter-day Saint father and mother living in Peru are trying to support a family of ten on combined salaries of $50 a month. After paying $46 a month for living expenses, they cannot afford tuition and the school uniforms required by the government for their school-age children.
After completing elementary school and then working for two years to help support her family, a 14-year-old girl in Hong Kong would like to continue school but cannot obtain $163 for high school tuition.
A young Colombian completed a mission to Peru and then found it almost impossible to find steady employment because of lack of training. His family can contribute nothing toward the $200 needed for one year’s tuition to obtain training in motor mechanics.
Upon multiplying the above examples across 50 different countries and a thousand different circumstances, one begins to understand a challenge and an opportunity that exists for the Church and for each of us as individuals to help others in a very real and practical way.
Last year, in a quiet manner and with modest funds, the Church Educational System scholarship program was approved to help students in Latin America, the Pacific, and the Asian Rim take advantage of educational opportunities in their own countries. Under this program, worthy members of the Church in those lands can qualify either for loans or for educational grants. As loans are repaid and as those who receive grants begin to contribute to the scholarship fund at a later date, these resources will in turn become available to others who need assistance. In this way, the scholarship fund functions much like the Perpetual Emigration Fund that operated in the early days of the Church: those who received money for passage to America paid money back into the fund when they were able so that others might follow.
The CES scholarship fund was not intended, and in fact cannot be used, for students who desire to come to the United States for their education. Too often in the past, such students have not returned home, and their potential leadership in their own communities and the Church in their home countries has not been fully realized.
In keeping with recent direction provided by President Spencer W. Kimball (and prior to that, by President Harold B. Lee) and other General Authorities, there is a great need to strengthen the Church wherever it is found. Literacy and basic education are essential to this concept, especially in areas of the world where the Church is young and growing and the need for leadership is acute. Where members are illiterate or lack basic education, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to have strong branches, wards, and stakes. Where opportunities for education are nonexistent, or uneven according to one’s economic status, a tragic loss of leadership potential occurs and potentially valuable assets wither for lack of development.
These problems are not unique to our day. Even in the Book of Mormon there is a record of periods when educational and economic opportunities were uneven and the Church suffered as a result. Third Nephi, chapter 6, describes such a period:
“And thus passed away the twenty and eighth year, and the people had continual peace.
“But it came to pass in the twenty and ninth year there began to be some disputings among the people; and some were lifted up unto pride and boastings because of their exceeding great riches, yea, even unto great persecutions;
“For there were many merchants in the land, and also many lawyers, and many officers.
“And the people began to be distinguished by ranks, according to their riches and their chances for learning, yea, some were ignorant because of their poverty, and others did receive great learning because of their riches.” (3 Ne. 6:9–12. Italics added.)
The Church is committed to helping its members develop to their fullest potential by removing the barriers to educational opportunity wherever possible.
The present policy of the Church regarding the establishment of Church-operated schools is that the first responsibility for secular education rests with the state. The Church is not desirous of duplicating available educational resources; rather, it is anxious for its members to take advantage of educational opportunities in their own locations. Many are not able to do so, however, because they lack even the very minimum funds required.
Kenneth H. Beesley, associate commissioner of Church Education, tells of a discussion he had with a branch president in a small town in Guatemala:
“I asked if there were any children of school age in his branch who were not in school. He said there were many. He told about families with many children who did not have the means to pay even the minimum fees required in the public school, which amounted to less than $10 a year. He said that such families would sometimes not be able to send all their children to school in a given year and would therefore have to choose which of their children would attend and which ones would not.
“The thought of having to ration schooling among my own children made this a very emotional moment for me. I knew that in terms of the potential of each child to accomplish what the Lord had in mind for him in this earth life, I had a responsibility as a gospel brother to try to make sure that every worthy child in the Church had an opportunity to go to school.”
In the Church Educational System scholarship fund lies a great opportunity for everyone to extend the hand of brotherhood to a fellow member of the Church, to assist him or her in receiving an education in order to realize their full potential as individuals, as parents of families, and as leaders in the Church and in their communities.
Although there are considerably more young people in the Church who need help to be able to attend school than present resources can handle, a little will often go a long way and will make a significant difference. Individual members of the Church, quorums, families, businesses, corporations, and other organizations can be of help. If you would like additional information, or if you would be interested in helping a brother or sister in Latin America, the Pacific islands, or the Asian Rim, write or make a check payable to the Church Educational System Scholarship Fund and mail it to CES Scholarship Fund, 50 East North Temple, 9th floor, Salt Lake City, Utah 84150.