Take a moment to consider Beli, a young woman who teaches preschool to 20 children in her village in Okhaldhunga, Nepal. With just a seventh grade education herself, and very little in the way of training or teaching materials, Beli shows up six mornings a week to provide basic instruction for some of the youngest residents of her village. Through her commitment, she brings dignity to her students, herself and her neighbors. Her small community understands that education provides an important key to success in life, and that even the youngest children deserve a chance to learn.
Extensive research has shown that even a modest investment in early education can make a significant difference in leading children to a lifetime path of learning and success. If we are willing to look far enough ahead, there may be no better educational investment. Still, preschool is not even available to every child in America, much less in Nepal.
Yet we can change this, one child, one school and one village at a time
The dignity that comes with education expresses itself in many ways. In the developed world we understand that lifetime learning is necessary to adapt to the rapid rate of change in our world. In a traditional society such as rural Nepal, this dignity shows not just with the children, but with the adults in the community who proudly recognize how their young educators are developing and enhancing their teaching skills.
Dignifying others is not an act of charity. It is an act of compassion. By providing opportunities to allow others to discover their dignity, our investment in the lives of people we may never meet comes back to enrich our own.
Dan Schwab is a Leadership Coach and Chairman of the Board for Partners in Sustainable Learning. He has seen these incredible teachers at work in their Early Childhood Centers in Okhaldhunga.