Most of our sponsors know that Compassion helps children receive education. But how exactly do we go about doing that? These articles will be your guide to understand how your sponsorship brings educational opportunities to children to ensure they can be self-supporting when they grow up.

Are Compassion centres schools?

One common misconception we hear is that Compassion runs schools. In the early history of Compassion’s ministry, some of Compassion’s programs were school-based. Some of these programs were operated as schools and others were operated through schools.

But over three decades ago, we switched to a church-based model. That means that our Child Sponsorship Program is run exclusively through the local church in the form of centre-based weekly activities.

When visitors come to see our work in the field, it can be confusing because some of our church partners also operate their own schools; but these schools are separate from Compassion’s programs. Visitors also often see children at Compassion centres sitting in classrooms, learning from tutors—which looks an awful lot like school! But these activities are meant to complement school, not replace or duplicate it.

The Child Sponsorship Program complements school

Children in our sponsorship program attend church-based child development centres that offer many services to children, including a holistic curriculum that helps children grow cognitively, physically, socially and spiritually.

This curriculum helps children develop the motivation and skills to become economically self-supporting.

It includes topics such as:

  • critical thinking
  • problem solving
  • money management
  • entrepreneurial skills

The lessons are age-appropriate and use a lot of hands-on activities to keep children interested and involved. For example, when children are between the ages of three and five, they might learn about what jobs people in their neighbourhood have and discuss what their favourite things to do are. When they are in their teen years, they might learn skills to both obtain and keep a job.

Each youth also learns at least one income-generating skill while in the program. Depending on the region, youth learn skills such as:

  • baking
  • tailoring
  • hairstyling
  • motor vehicle repair
  • welding
  • carpentry
  • computers

Tutors at the centres also offer academic tutoring when needed. In some communities where our children attend school, the teacher to child ratio might be as high as one teacher for eighty students! Children are able to receive much-needed individualized attention from the tutors at our centres.

Mentoring children to plan for their lives

Another big way Compassion centres prepare children to be self-supporting adults is through mentoring and life planning.

Beginning at age 12, mentors work with each child on a life-planning tool to find out what their interests, talents and goals are. Through this tool, they help youth determine how they hope to earn an income when they are older and practical steps they can take to reach that goal.

This mentoring relationship with one of the centre workers is maintained throughout the youth’s time in the program. The centre workers also complete an annual child development assessment for each child. This assessment helps monitor what areas the child or youth is thriving in and where he or she might need extra attention.

Through this individual care, every sponsored child is known and cared for by a loving adult mentor. There is someone in their lives to help them make good choices and think seriously about the path they will take once they graduate. This love and support from our church partners makes a huge difference in the lives of sponsored children and is just one of the ways Compassion’s sponsorship is helping children grow up to become mature and fulfilled adults.

Next up—How does Compassion help children pay for school?

Written by: Amber Van Schooneveld

Amber Van Schooneveld is the Managing Editor of Compassion International's blog.