Immigration & education are hot political topics in nearly every developed country and in many developing countries that share a border with countries who have worse poverty or a less stable government. Take for example Costa Rica and Nicaragua. While living in Costa Rica I would often hear politicians espousing their opinions on how to strengthen borders to keep unwanted illegals out of the country or perhaps how to better facilitate the process of legal immigration. Entwined in the discussion on immigration there exists a great concern as to how the school systems in the more developed country will be able to absorb an influx of more bodies, how those expenses will be covered and who will or will not be permitted to receive a basic education. Similarly, on the Caribbean Island of Hispaniola there exists a great tension between the Dominican Republic and Haiti as many Haitians illegally immigrate to the eastern half of the island that is home to the Dominican Republic.
As Cristen shared in this post, The Dominican Office of Immigration recently proposed that all foreign students (i.e. Haitians) in the Dominican Republic must be required to have proper paperwork and economic means among other criteria to be allowed to enroll in a school in the Dominican Republic. Schools that don’t comply with the new regulation and accept students without the proper paperwork (over 33,000 of them currently in the country) could be fined.
At first glance one might think that this sounds reasonable. After all, having your paperwork in order and being registered as a legal citizen would make things a lot easier on everybody right? Unfortunately, the consequences of such a law would mean that tens of thousands are kicked out of schools as they wait months or years to complete the correct “paperwork”. As Christians we must consider whether we will remain faithful in our allegiance to God and His body of believers or if we will allow the economics of the nation-state to change the way we see and treat those whom we should be loving as family. 1 Timothy 5:1-2 reads, “Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, 2 older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.” Jesus reminds us in Mathew 25:45, “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’”
In each of these countries there exists an educational system that is made up of both private and public schools. In many developing countries like Nicaragua, Haiti and the Dominican Republic (of those Edify is currently only working in the Dominican Republic) where the public education is underfunded, overcrowded and insufficient due to government corruption and mismanagement there exists a remarkable network of private, Christian schools affordable to the poor. These schools charge a mere $2-15 per week for an education that is usually better than that received in a public school. This is the type of school that Edify supports. This is the sector that will absorb those who are rejected by the state and offer them the education that they will never be able to get unless people continue to fight to serve the least of these.