By Jennifer Johnson
As you read this, it’s almost time for Christmas. But as I write it, we’re days away from back to school.
One of the things that surprised me about being an adult was the discovery, in September 1998, that I actually like autumn. That year was the first since 1981 that I hadn’t spent catching a bus while it was still dark outside, trudging to a classroom, sitting and doodling at uncomfortable desks, and acclimating to the personality quirks of six different teachers. Suddenly the time of year I used to dread became a fun season of falling leaves and pumpkin desserts.
I catch on to new concepts quickly and I’m very independent, two qualities the modern public school, with its slow pace and single-file lines and hall passes, did not encourage. I always excelled in school—I am too perfectionistic and duty-bound to slack off—but always hated it, as well. As Stephen King said, “To this day I distrust anybody who thought school was a good time.”
However, while the methods didn’t always suit my learning style, I should be more grateful I had the opportunity to get an education at all. During my conversation with Craig Smith about LivingStone International University, I discovered that each year, tens of thousands of students in Uganda who want to attend university are turned away due to too few schools and too little space in their classrooms. And it’s not just a problem at the college level; across the continent, almost half of the school-age children—more than 40 million young people—receive no education at all. Two-thirds of them are girls.
As Nelson Mandela famously said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” The LivingStone team is living this out—their vision is to transform Africa by developing preachers, business leaders, doctors, media professionals, and more. Because of their vision, and the willingness of several ministries to share the work and share the credit, generations of Ugandans will have new opportunities to grow, learn, and contribute to their country.
I’m still glad to be an adult who no longer dreads going back to school, but I’m also glad my life’s good fortune included school. Here’s to the 26 kids enjoying their senior year at LivingStone, and the reminder that I still have a lot to learn.
Read the related article, “Transforming Uganda with Christ-based Learning.”