Catholic education system: A global perspective

Rev Fr Paul Lelen Haokip
If you can consider that ‘The heart of education is the education of the heart’, you are already in the right track of education itself. Education is not so much about marks and grades but it is about what remains in the heart after school/college life. It is life-oriented and life-supporting. We gather information globally but execute (apply) those learning locally. This is ‘glocal’ intelligence.
Global catholic education: The term CATHOLIC is derived from the Latin word ‘catholicus’, from the Greek adjective ‘katholikos’, meaning universal; comes from the Greek phrase ‘katholou’ meaning on the whole, according to the whole or in general, including a wide variety of things; all-embracing. The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with more than 1.29 billion members worldwide.
As one of the oldest religious institutions in the world, it has played a prominent role in the history and development of the world. Many renowned universities, colleges, health sector, social sector services are there to rise as witnesses. Apart from Health, Social Services; Education is one important ministry of the Catholic Church worldwide. Catholic Church is open to everyone in matters related with human development, survival, peace-building and education. The church imbibes every good thing from all cultures and also imparts education to whoever is in need. “Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today” (Malcolm X).
National catholic education: The Telegraph, New Delhi, Aug. 19, 2017: The Catholic church, the second-largest institutional provider of education after the government – today put in a public application to be heard in the drafting of the National Education Policy. Disappointed by the lack of response from the government to its repeated efforts to be heard on the issue, the office for education and culture of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) today took its views on the preliminary draft policy to the media.
The CBCI called the draft not just anti-minority but against the majority because it would eventually make access to education difficult to all marginalised sections – Dalits, tribals, the poor and the rural included. “It is oriented to centralise, control and communalise”, neglects social science and stresses more on employability rather than academics, the CBCI said.
Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, the CBCI secretary-general, said the mention of the “guru-shishya” tradition and Vedic heritage in the preamble suggested a majoritarian agenda. Asked what was wrong with the gurukul system or Vedic education and if the church was fearful of this, he said: “We are not afraid. The question is why only Vedic system and Gurukul? This country is a diverse one. Mention all, then.” He also questioned the rationale behind imposing ‘yoga and surya-namaskar’ on schools. This is a secular country and it is nobody’s business to teach any particular religion. School education should teach common values.
The Bishop added that the CBCI wanted a neutral policy but with a special nuance for the deprived sections. Father Joseph Manipadam, the National Secretary of the CBCI’s office for Education and Culture, said they had written to former HRD Minister Smriti Irani and her successor Prakash Javadekar. The CBCI, however, welcomed the government’s announcement that it was open to suggestions on the draft policy and decided to make use of the offer. “Pseudo-nationalism is reflected in the NEP strongly,” the CBCI noted.
The National Education Policy serves as a comprehensive framework to guide the development of education in the country. Though not mandatory, the policy provides a broad direction and state governments are expected to follow it. If approved, this will be the third education policy in the country. The first policy was in 1968 and the second in 1986 which was later revised in 1992.
In the same vein, all the Catholic Educational Societies/Trusts come under CBCI’s directives and principles (with some local improvisations). Catholic Church expects to take education at higher heights to that of the global standard.
State level catholic education: Just like in other states of India, the Catholic Church has made visible positive impact in the educational graph of the state of Manipur. The uncountable number of alumni from Catholic Educational institutions can tell their stories as witness. It’s a consolation to know that many are doing well at the global, national and state levels.
Catholic Education started in Manipur way back in late 1950s and still continues. Catholic Educational Society Manipur (CESM) was granted recognition by Manipur Societies Registration Act, on the 14th day of January 1992, by N. Shyamkishore Singh, the then Registrar of Societies, Manipur. The aims and objects of CESM is to promote the diffusion of knowledge, to foster moral and spiritual values, give education in the spheres of knowledge, religious, cultural and physical formation to the students in our institutions. The society is a non-profit making organization and managed by the Management Committee.
With the support of the denizens of Manipur, the Catholic Education mode is going on in our colleges, schools, hospital, health centres and rural areas. Approximately, 80,000 students are in our institutes in a current academic year. We consider this work as a service to all the people of Manipur.
The Catholic Church strives unceasingly to impart the best-possible education to the 28 lakhs populace of Manipur so that students can compete at the National and Global level. To enhance this effect, a peaceful, and education institutes as disturbance-free-zone will greatly help. When all the educational institutes of our state have healthy competitions, we shall grow together. In this modern times every educational system should cultivate diversity, secularism, cater to divergent and critical thinking process amongst students.
At the global, national, state, village levels, Catholic Education systems are affordable with quality results of interpersonal, intrapersonal and humane formation. We train students to be more humane, peaceful and social minded. These values will bring harmony in the world around us. To a great extend, the ball is in our court – either to accelerate education by providing conducive ambience or to slow down with detrimental elements. Let us join hands to form our society with proper education and believe that dialogue, communication and collaboration serve as a gift for peaceful co-existence amongst various cultures, communities, languages and religions.
(The writer is pursuing Master’s in Pastoral Management, JDV, Pune. More details at www.paullelenhaokip.com/www.thejoyofbeingmyself.com)

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