Imagine this scenario:
You are a mega-super-homeschooling mom with years of experience and training. Then you are dropped in the middle of a third world city. You are expected to learn a new language, figure out how to cook, drive, shop, and keep house in an entirely new way. You have no home school co-op. You have no mom’s Bible study at church. Electricity and internet are unreliable. Your children must adjust to making friends with the national children, who speak a different language. In fact, your children often have a hard time finding friends (especially girls) because children as young as 5 and 6 are expected to work and take care of younger children. Sound difficult?
We are passionate about the ministry of Haven of Peace Academy. And as we’ve been traveling around, speaking about our passion, sometimes we get the question of why MK schools are so important. In the age of homeschooling, why put so much money and so many people into MK education? It’s a very good question.
In some countries, missionaries can send their children to local schools. In Africa, this is really not an option. For example, in Tanzania, here are the school options:
• Public schools: Consist of 200 children in one classroom. No books, no crayons. Just a teacher with a chalkboard and a switch.
• Private schools: Almost always devoutly Muslim or Hindu. All children must comply to religious rituals. Curriculum would not prepare your child for university in the west.
• The diplomat school. Very secular, but excellent western-style curriculum. However, minimum cost is $15,000 per year. Imagine raising support for that.
So then there is the option of homeschooling. I am a big advocate for homeschooling, and if we were living in the States, we would seriously consider it. But some moms just aren’t gifted for homeschooling (and that doesn’t make them bad moms). But like the picture I painted above, even if you are a homeschooling-mom-extraordinaire, the conditions for homeschooling are significantly harder overseas. Now, indeed there are many missionary families where homeschooling is their only option. But it’s often really, really hard on that mom.
Do you see why MK schools are so important? They don’t exist simply because missionaries are picky and want Christian education for their kids. They exist because they are vital to missionaries staying overseas. Vital to allow moms to have the time and energy necessary to learn the language, survive in the culture, and make local friends. Vital to allow MKs to still have enough connection to their home culture that they’ll be able to adjust back to their home country someday.
Of course, one of the reasons we chose HOPAC is because of its diversity. We love that there are 30% Tanzanian kids at the school, and another 30% from the business community. We love that there are Hindu and Muslim kids in our classes. But ultimately, we chose it because we believe in the importance of MK education. We believe that if Africa is going to be reached with the gospel, MK schools like HOPAC must exist as well.
MKs from Korea