August-International Youth Day
Reading: 1 Timothy 4: 11-16
Command and teach these things. Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. Do not neglect your gift, which was given to you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you.
Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.
This year’s theme for International Youth Day is Transforming Education. The Oxford English Dictionary defines education as, the process of receiving or giving systematic instruction, especially at a school or university. It also includes an alternative definition of education as an enlightening experience. We in the developed world tend to take education for granted. Yet, according to the United Nations:
- Only 10% of people in low income countries have completed secondary education
- 40% of the global population is not taught in a language that they speak or fully understand
- Over 75% of secondary school age refugees are out of school
- Indigenous youth, young people with disabilities and young women face challenges accessing education
One of the Four Universal Apostolic Preferences for the Society of Jesus is Journeying with Youth – accompanying youth in the creation of a hope filled future. A recent Jesuit publication noted, that young people face enormous challenges: the uncertainty of relationship in a digital era, diminishing opportunities for work, the growth of political violence, discrimination and degradation of the environment. Yet, in this changing environment young people today are providing leadership by their willingness to speak out and strive for truth and justice.
Education can provide the knowledge and the wisdom to create a hope filled future, that spark of inspiration, that enlightening experience. Education at its best is not about indoctrination or propaganda as some political leaders may intimate. True education is about discovering truth and the truth about oneself as gifted and loved by God. The teacher par excellence is Jesus who leads us to freedom.
We pray that all young people may have the educational opportunities to help them fulfil their God-given potential and make a difference in shaping a new world.