I’ve heard about the Perpetual Education Fund (PEF) since President Gordon B. Hinckley started the program in 2001, but it has always seemed distant until now. The program, run through the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, helps church members around the world (mainly returned missionaries) obtain an education. Students that qualify can take out a loan that is paid directly to their college or university. Later, each student pays back the loan with a small amount of interest. When it was first started, President Hinckley said, “Where there is widespread poverty among our people, we must do all we can to help them to lift themselves, to establish their lives upon a foundation of self-reliance that can come of training. Education is the key to opportunity.”
For the last week I’ve had the opportunity to be in Cambodia, a third world country in southeast Asia. The PEF is very important to the church members there, and I’ve met many people who are studying with PEF loans. The local newspaper recently published an article about Kim Sang, a Cambodian church member who participated in the PEF (James). When he was younger, he sold coconuts to earn money and lived in a tree. As he saw businessmen walk by in their suits, he wanted to one day have enough money to buy a suit like them. He later was baptized into the church, served a mission, and took out a PEF loan. I met him at the place he now works (the LDS service center in Cambodia), where he wears a suit every day to work.
There have now been over 50,000 PEF loans to students in 50 different countries (“PEF Progress”). As a future teacher, I find that very exciting! We have the wonderful opportunity to attend BYU, but many others in the world do not have the resources to obtain a higher education. As President Hinckley said, education is the key to opportunity, and this program is giving that key to many of them. As educators, we are also part of the effort to give people the opportunity that education brings. Hopefully both the PEF program and we as teachers can continue to bring education to more and more people.
For more information on the Perpetual Education Fund, you can visit pef.lds.org.
Hinckley, Gordon. “The Perpetual Education Fund.” Perpetual Education Fund. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, May 2001. Web. 7 Jul 2012
James, Kandi. “Coconut Boy makes good with church help.” The Phnom Penh Post. N.p., 04 Jul 2012. Web. 11 Jul 2012.
“PEF Progress.” Perpetual Education Fund. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, n.d. Web. 7 Jul 2012.