Over 50 years ago a wealthy captain of industry was approached by representatives of Harvard University for a substantial contribution in cash to help establish and build a graduate school of business. At first this prominent industrial leader hesitated to contribute, until he was persuaded in his own mind of the worth and importance of this educational enterprise. Once convinced, he contributed many times more than what was initially requested of him. As they were preparing for the dedicatory services they asked this great benefactor to make a speech. He declined. They tried to prevail, but again he declined. When the dedicatory services were being held, they again persisted and asked him if he would say but a few words on this important occasion. He stood before the assembly and essentially said: “I have but one thing I would like to say to you today, to the leaders and faculty and to the students of this business school …” Then after a long pause he said: “The learning process lies within.” In these five words, “The learning process lies within,” is contained a wise and profound truth – a truth which to my understanding has helped shape the objectives and the methods of that great school of business for over a half century.
In an effort to remedy this situation, we propose a plan—a plan which we believe is inspired by the Lord. The Church is establishing a fund largely from the contributions of faithful Latter-day Saints who have and will contribute for this purpose. We are deeply grateful to them. Based on similar principles to those underlying the Perpetual Emigration Fund, we shall call it the Perpetual Education Fund. From the earnings of this fund, loans will be made to ambitious young men and women, for the most part returned missionaries, so that they may borrow money to attend school. Then when they qualify for employment, it is anticipated that they will return that which they have borrowed together with a small amount of interest designed as an incentive to repay the loan. It is expected that they will attend school in their own communities. They can live at home. We have an excellent institute program established in these countries where they can be kept close to the Church. The directors of these institutes are familiar with the educational opportunities in their own cities. Initially, most of these students will attend technical schools where they will learn such things as computer science, refrigeration engineering, and other skills which are in demand and for which they can become qualified. The plan may later be extended to training for the professions. . . There is an old saying that if you give a man a fish, he will have a meal for a day. But if you teach him how to fish, he will eat for the remainder of his life. Now, this is a bold initiative, but we believe in the need for it and in the success that it will enjoy. It will be carried forward as an official program of the Church with all that this implies. It will become a blessing to all whose lives it touches—to the young men and women, to their future families, to the Church that will be blessed with their strong local leadership.
You are moving into the most competitive age the world has ever known. All around you is competition. You need all the education you can get. Sacrifice a car; sacrifice anything that is needed to be sacrificed to qualify yourselves to do the work of the world. That world will in large measure pay you what it thinks you are worth, and your worth will increase as you gain education and proficiency in your chosen field. You belong to a church that teaches the importance of education. You have a mandate from the Lord to educate your minds and your hearts and your hands. The Lord has said, “Teach ye diligently … of things both in heaven and in the earth, and under the earth; things which have been, things which are, things which must shortly come to pass; things which are at home, things which are abroad; the wars and the perplexities of the nations, and the judgments which are on the land; and a knowledge also of countries and of kingdoms—that ye may be prepared in all things” Mind you, these are not my words. These are the words of the Lord who loves you. He wants you to train your minds and hands to become an influence for good as you go forward with your lives. And as you do so and as you perform honorably and with excellence, you will bring honor to the Church, for you will be regarded as a man or woman of integrity and ability and conscientious workmanship. Be smart. Don’t be foolish. You cannot bluff or cheat others without bluffing or cheating yourselves. . . Be smart. The Lord wants you to educate your minds and hands, whatever your chosen field. Whether it be repairing refrigerators, or the work of a skilled surgeon, you must train yourselves. Seek for the best schooling available. Become a workman of integrity in the world that lies ahead of you. I repeat, you will bring honor to the Church and you will be generously blessed because of that training. There can be no doubt, none whatever, that education pays. Do not short-circuit your lives. If you do so, you will pay for it over and over and over again.
I call your attention to another matter that gives me great concern. In revelation the Lord has mandated that this people get all the education they can. He has been very clear about this. But there is a troubling trend taking place. Elder Rolfe Kerr, Commissioner of Church Education, advises me that in the United States nearly 73 percent of young women graduate from high school, compared to 65 percent of young men. Young men are more likely to drop out of school than young women. Approximately 61 percent of young men enroll in college immediately following high school, compared to 72 percent for young women. In 1950, 70 percent of those enrolled in college were males, and 30 percent were females; by 2010 projections estimate 40 percent will be males, and 60 percent will be females. Women have earned more bachelor’s degrees than men every year since 1982 and more master’s degrees since 1986. It is plainly evident from these statistics that young women are exceeding young men in pursuing educational programs. And so I say to you young men, rise up and discipline yourself to take advantage of educational opportunities. Do you wish to marry a girl whose education has been far superior to your own? We speak of being “equally yoked.” That applies, I think, to the matter of education. In addition, your education will strengthen your service in the Church. A study was made some years ago that indicated the higher the education, the greater the faith and participation in religious activity.
For members of the Church, education is not merely a good idea—it’s a commandment. We are to learn “of things both in heaven and in the earth, and under the earth; things which have been, things which are, things which must shortly come to pass; things which are at home, things which are abroad.” Joseph Smith loved learning even though he had few opportunities for formal education. In his journals, he spoke happily of days spent in study and often expressed his love of learning. Joseph taught the Saints that knowledge was a necessary part of our mortal journey, for “a man is saved no faster than he [gains] knowledge,” and that “whatever principle of intelligence we attain … in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection.” During challenging times, it is even more important to learn. The Prophet Joseph taught, “Knowledge does away with darkness, [anxiety], and doubt; for these cannot exist where knowledge is.” Brethren, you have a duty to learn as much as you can. Please encourage your families, your quorum members, everyone to learn and become better educated. If formal education is not available, do not allow that to prevent you from acquiring all the knowledge you can. Under such circumstances, the best books, in a sense, can become your “university”—a classroom that is always open and admits all who apply. Strive to increase your knowledge of all that is “virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy.” Seek knowledge “by study and also by faith.” Seek with a humble spirit and contrite heart. As you apply the spiritual dimension of faith to your study—even of temporal things—you can amplify your intellectual capacity, for “if your eye be single to [God’s] glory, your whole [body] shall be filled with light, … and [comprehend] all things.”