Jehovah’s Witnesses are known worldwide for their Bible educational work.
BECAUSE of the importance they attach to their Bible educational work, some may think that they are not interested in secular education. But that is not the case. To teach others, a teacher must first learn, and this requires proper training and instruction. So in addition to making good use of secular schooling, Jehovah’s Witnesses have for many years benefited from various educational programs and schools operated by the Watch Tower Society. These have helped Witnesses and others to improve themselves mentally, morally, and spiritually.
For example, in many countries the Witnesses have faced a special challenge—how to teach people who have had little or no opportunity to receive proper schooling and thus do not know how to read or write. To meet this need, the Watch Tower Society has organized literacy programs.
In Nigeria, for instance, literacy classes have been operated by Jehovah’s Witnesses since 1949. By means of such classes, tens of thousands in Nigeria have learned to read. One survey showed that over 90 percent of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Nigeria were literate, compared with less than 50 percent of the rest of the population. In Mexico, Jehovah’s Witnesses have operated literacy classes since 1946. In one year more than 6,500 persons were taught to read and write. In fact well over 100,000 have been helped to become literate. Literacy classes have also been organized over the years in many other countries, such as Bolivia, Cameroon, Nepal, and Zambia. Jehovah’s Witnesses have produced over seven million copies of the textbook Apply Yourself to Reading and Writing in over 100 languages.
Such literacy programs have often been given recognition by the educational authorities in the lands where they have been undertaken. In Mexico, for example, a civil servant wrote: “I am grateful for your co-operation, and in behalf of the state government I convey to you their most sincere congratulations for your noble progressive work for the benefit of the people in bringing the light of knowledge to the illiterate. . . . I wish you success in your educational work.”
Because they attach great importance to their Bible educational work, Jehovah’s Witnesses endeavor to improve their ability to explain Bible teachings to others. For instance, in each of the more than 119,000 congregations worldwide, students receive training in the skills of public reading and speaking. Even the youngest ones, as soon as they know how to read, can enroll and receive this training, which proves to be useful to them also in other areas, including their secular schooling. Many educators have commented that Witness students tend to express themselves very well.
Additionally, each congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses is encouraged to have in its Kingdom Hall, or meeting place, a library containing Bible study aids, dictionaries, and other reference works. This library is available to all who attend meetings at the Kingdom Hall. Reading is warmly encouraged within their congregations, and each family is likewise encouraged to have a family library with a wide range of publications to cover the needs of children and adults.
The Watch Tower Society also operates schools for training missionaries of both sexes, as well as schools for training men who have ministerial responsibilities in local congregations. These schools are added evidence that Jehovah’s Witnesses attach great importance to education.