“When Schools Are Few,” Ensign, Dec. 1975, 20–21
“I would love to go back home as a missionary,” says Elder Barate Timea, now serving in Tonga. “My parents are happy about my joining the Church. They are anxious for me to come and teach them the gospel.”
Two years ago, Elder Timea was one of fifteen nonmember students from the Gilbert Islands who arrived at the Church-operated Liahona High School in Tonga. Now he is one of forty-five Gilbert Islanders who attend the school. Thirty-eight of these forty-five have joined the Church; seven, including Elder Timea, are already missionaries. The Church Educational System has helped make this difference.
Five years ago very few temple marriages were performed for young New Zealand couples, and calls for missionary service were infrequent. This year, a single institute class reported fourteen temple marriages, and one stake called as many missionaries as were called in all of New Zealand in past years—and nearly all of these missionaries are seminary graduates. Church Education helps make the difference.
In open-air fale classrooms, in Church meetinghouses, in large boarding schools, many thousands of children and young adults in the Lamanite areas of the Church are seizing opportunities for education their own governments are unable to provide but that are now available through the Church with the approval of the national ministries of education.
The Church Educational System has already made a remarkable contribution in Lamanite areas. For example:
Programs are now functioning in more than twenty countries in Central America, South America, the Pacific islands, and Mexico.
Currently in operation are sixty-three elementary and middle schools, one preparatory school, and one normal school in Mexico, Chile, Paraguay, Peru, Bolivia, New Zealand, Tonga, Tahiti, Western Samoa, and Fiji. In addition, the Brigham Young University—Hawaii Campus serves natives of the Pacific region. Schools under construction include the LDS Technical School in Fiji and a new high School in Vava’u, Tonga.
More than 17,000 elementary and secondary students are enrolled in the basic academic and vocational programs of the Church schools outside the United States and Canada. The great majority of these students are of Lamanite descent. In addition, several hundred persons are now involved in special literacy training, health education, and home study projects.
Church school instruction extends from elementary training to associate-degree university programs emphasizing locally marketable skills. Local needs and government requirements determine exactly what is taught.
Religious education has high priority. More than 40,000 students in these countries now participate in the released-time, early morning, or home study seminary programs and in the individual-instruction and regular institute programs. Teachers show open concern for mission and temple marriage preparation.
Local groups and individuals participate in the costs of Church educational programs as much as possible. In some countries, however, even $5 a year for tuition and the government-required uniforms are beyond the means of many impoverished families. In many of these instances, the newly established Church Educational System Scholarship Fund can provide loans and grants for deserving students. (See Ensign, October 1975, pp. 76–77.)
In Mexico, Central America, South America, and the islands of the Pacific—the locale of the Lamanite—Church Educational System programs have helped produce many capable leaders and have increased the average economic status of Church members, thus raising Lamanite members from illiteracy and poverty to positions of tremendous influence for good in their families, their communities, their nations, and the Church.