Probably the number one valid concern people have about RVA is that as a boarding school missionary kids live away from their parents. It is interesting, however, to realize that RVA was created especially to help kids and parents be closer together.
Historically, western missionaries had very hard choices to make. Many went as singles and were literally dedicated for life packing their belongings in a coffin since they did not expect to return alive. As families responded to God’s call they would go until they needed to come home for their children’s education. Others made the hard choice of sending their children to boarding schools in America while they worked overseas. In the most extreme cases some parents did not see their children for years at a time. Personally, we can not even begin to fathom that sense of calling but we are glad that in 1906 Africa Inland Mission started Rift Valley Academy for the purpose of educating children of missionaries closer to where their parents are working.
RVA has grown considerably over the last one hundred years and now we are providing a very high quality education for families working in nearly 20 countries. The only educational alternatives for families would either be home schooling or to send their children to local national schools. For most missionary families in remote locations and limited resources, home schooling is not a very easy option. Many children in those situations might miss out on important peer social interactions as well.
The decisions that missionaries must make today are still hard. Boarding school is not anyone’s first choice and it may not be a good choice for every child, but for many families and many children, RVA is a really great option that gives kids an excellent education and so many other extras. When a family handles it well, it can be a very healthy option.