REPORTS OF THE C.B.C.I., COMMISSION FOR EDUCATION AND CULTURE
Standing Committee Report (Oct. 1967 to Sept.1968, New Delhi)
It must be confessed that all over the country, a certain dissatisfaction with Catholic Schools prevails, particularly when it is considered that a good deal of our resources in money and personnel is poured upon our schools. The general feeling is that the religious side of Catholic Schools is subordinated to the educational side. The conclusion is that our priests and nuns concentrate their attention on success as educationists, not as Catholic educationists. Educationally, our institutions are a great success; but where they fit the Catholic boy or girl for a full Catholic life in an atmosphere of superficiality and worldliness is another question.
Side by side with this complaint coming from non-Christian parents not precisely against our schools but against the Church in general, and against the Church because of our schools. The Church is charged with being institutionalized, with depending too much on institutions; according to most Hindus our success, due to superior organization, is hardly an Indian quality. Only the organization, the exterior work, the regularity, the discipline, are evident – all this the non-Christian sees and appreciates. What he does not see and what never becomes apparent to him is the spirit behind it, the spiritual motive which commands devotion and self sacrifice and missionary zeal.
Observations after the first meeting:
That more and more Indian priests, nuns and laymen should receive special training in Indian Culture at Indian Universities and special institutes.
That it should be recommended to local Ordinaries and religious superiors concerned, to set up in suitable University towns (regionwise, if found desirable) centres related to the University for the training of such priests, nuns and laymen.
What is asked is that priests and nuns and laymen be thoroughly acquainted with the culture of their own part of the country, its language its history, it contribution, cultural and economic, to the whole country. This is the only way in which we can be prepared to meet the non-Christian on his own ground: we must enter through his door in order to come out by our own and without such a preparation; it will not be possible to enter through his door . The Vatican Council demands for all missionaries that they be fruitfully trained “ in order to have a complete knowledge of peoples, their cultures and religions, not only as history but also regarding present day conditions. Anyone who is to come into sustained contact with a nation must highly esteem its cultural patrimony, its languages and its customs”. (Ad Gentes, Art. 26). If the Indian priest or nun is to be a missionary to the people of India then these words must be fulfilled and this demand satisfied.
Another matter discussed at the meeting is the association of the Catholic Institutions with other Christian institutions. The Commission was reluctant to form any association with the other Christian institutions on a national scale, while agreeing that joint action on a local and regional scale should be possible.
Report of the Commission for Education (General Meeting – 7-16 Jan, 1970, Ernakulam)
Case in Madras regarding two Catholic colleges concerning which adverse reports and comments had appeared in the papers. (Catholic colleges were for catholics)
Archbishop Raymond cautioned that the Catholic educational institution, instead of placing all their hope in article 29 of the Indian Constitution which grants to religious minority communities the right to conduct educational institutions, should endeavour to make our colleges and schools the best in the country and this, he said, was the only way to meet the threat posed by the Jana Sangh and others.
Archbishop Raymond drew the attention of the members to the different malpractices – 12 of them had been specified-mentioned in a letter of the Xavier Board . The image of the Church had suffered because of these allegations.
The Archbishop made a strong plea to have special chaplains and priests for college students. He felt that the parishes could not become attractive to the university students. They required a less structured approach and wanted priests who understood their mentality. He said that the work done by AICUF was excellent. But they needed many more chaplains. Many Catholic students in professional Colleges were left to themselves. The Archbishop pleaded that for the next five years, one permanent chaplain more per year be made available to AICUF. The AICUF needed a permanent office and the services of two sisters. The Commission was planning to conduct a seminar on how religion had to be taught in the Colleges and High Schools.
The main defect on the part of the colleges concerned was that they did not have a suitable person for public relations. Archbishop Raymond mentioned that the Commission was helpless in the matter of correcting abuses, as it had no authority for dealing directly with such cases.
The occasion was the removal of the phrase “primarily for Catholics” from the policy statement of the Colleges, and this was the reason for the turmoil in Madras. According to Fr. Balaguer, prima facie, the request from the part of the Xavier Board in reference to malpractices, was either to be authorized to take up itself the cases of malpractices or allow someone else to look into them.
Archbishop Eugene D’Souza expressed the desire that all educational institutions be brought under the national boards. He felt that it would be better to deal with the malpractices in an informal way. Archbishop Raymond said that most of the colleges had become members of the Xavier Board, but a very good number of the schools had not joined the Xavier Association and sometimes gave as reason their inability to pay the two rupee membership fee.
The Bishop of Dumka suggested that a reply to the letter of the President of Xavier Board be sent on the following lines. He could be informed that the letter and its contents were brought to the notice of all the Bishops. If the Board came to know in future of any such cases, the matter could be brought to the notice of the Chairman of the Commission or to the Bishop concerned for suitable action. The President put it to vote and it was passed.
The House also agreed that all institutions should be encouraged to become members of national associations.
The matter be best dealt with the local ordinaries.
The Board was also requested to refer future complaints to the Bishops concerned for the Chairman of the Education Commission, with concrete evidence of the allegations made.
Resolved that all high schools and higher secondary schools be encouraged to join the Xavier Association of Secondary Schools and All Catholic Colleges the Xavier Board of Higher Education. Individual bishops should urge this with the institutions in their diseases.
Archbishop Gregorios gave various cases of laymen who had some influence with managements receiving money from candidates, for procuring seats, without the ecclesiastical authorities knowing anything about the same, at the time seats are given.
Bishop Longinus said that he knew cases of students who were refused admission first, but succeeded in getting it after a donation had given to the school building fund.
Report of the Commission for Education (Standing Committee – Aug 9-11,1970, New Delhi)
With regard to the Catholic Students Apostolate, attention was drawn to the communication received from the Roman Congregation of Catholic Education through the Pro-Nuncio, dated April 11, 1970 and circulated by Cardinal Gracias, the President of the CBCI to the members of the Hierarchy.
The points regarding the apostolate of the University Students in Asia that deserve special attention of the Episcopal Conference have been singled out in the document. These are reproduced here below:
To increase religious instruction for the laity in all Catholic Universities.
To favour the presence of Catholic professors in the State Universities and possibly even in other private Universities. To nominate qualified Chaplains and to establish Students’ Centres in cities where there are Universities.
University Students Apostolat should come in the pastoral structures of the Episcopal Conferences and Dioceses.
To develop and perfect higher Catholic instruction and therefore:
To encourage religious vocations for the teaching institutes to care for a better and selected formation of lay personnel by means of religious instruction and safeguarding the character of our institutions.
To open a greater number of High Secondary Schools in poorer regions which have a lower level of education and consequently of more advantageous presence of the Church.
Father Claude D’Souza was appointed as the National Chaplain for AICUF.
It was agreed:
That in reply to the letter sent by the National Chaplain of AICUF, a letter of appreciation be sent to him by the Chairman of the Commission for Education for his attempt to present the AICUF consultation in focus. The Bishops showed great concern and readiness to understand youth and their problems and to be of service to them in the best way possible.
That the Secretary-General call Fr. Claude D’Souza and brief him regarding he mind of the CBCI apropos of the structure of AICUF Secretariate and kindred matters.
That the Cardinal President write a letter to the CRI requesting that all religious orders and congregations give active attention to the question of Chaplains for University students and thereby assist AICUF in its task on their spiritual formation.
Report of the Commission for Education (Standing Committee – Sept. 4-5, 1972, Bangalore)
Chairman of the Commission – Archbishop S. Arulappa
Points of discussion – problems
The field of action of the Youth Commission and the Education Commission had to be clearly defined.
The Xavier Board of Higher Education and A.I.N.A.C.S. – related to Education Commission
Y.C.S. and A.I.C.U.F. wavering between the Youth or Education Commission
Xavier Board of Higher Education and A.I.N.A.C.S. will be under Youth Commission while Y.C.S. and A.I.C.U.F. will be under Youth Commission.
The Education should have a regular Centre with at least one full time secretary. The centre should collect information, conduct suitable surveys, study the trends and plan appropriate programmes, etc. The Commission should discuss clearly the different aspects of the Church’s educational work, viz. apostolic, pastoral, missionary and social.
The administrative structures of our educational institutions should be re-modelled in accordance with the present trends and needs. One such need is democratization of management. Every institution should have an effective Managing Board on the principle of shared responsibility of the whole academic community – managers, teachers, students and parents.
Education as an effective instrument of social change against the background of India’s poverty and national call for Garibi Hatao. At least a project of socio-economic uplift in the neighbourhood should be carefully chosen and carried out by every institution with the collaboration of government agencies.
The attitude that should be taken by Church-managed schools and colleges in the face of the growing tendency of the government to exert control on educational institutions.
Decision – a memorandum should be prepared showing the positive contribution of the church, and indicating the willingness of the Church to cooperate with the Govt.
Report of the Commission for Education (Standing Committee – May 29&31, 1973, Bangalore)
It was decided at the General Meeting of April 1972 that, in the context of increasing pressures from the Central and State Governments to control privately-managed educational institutions to the detriment of the liberty of Church agencies to conduct schools and colleges in a fruitful manner, the question of education should form another main theme to be discussed at the CBCI meeting to be held in Jan 1974.
The theme was styled as “The Role of the Church in the field of Education in the Seventies” as the Church had to play a definite role through schools and colleges in the changing situation. It was decided that one complete day be devoted to the study of education. It was decided that knowledgeable persons should be entrusted with the work of collecting factual data regarding government policies at the Centre and in the States in so far as they affected our educational activities. Archbishop S. Arulappa of Hyderabad requested the Bishops to appointed contact persons to organize preparatory work at the diocesan as well as regional levels. They should get in touch with the CRI and other agencies that are involved in education. The findings from the regional and diocesan studies should reach the CBCI at least by early Nov. 1973.
Theme: The Role of Church in Kerala in the Seventies
Attended by Bishops, principals, teachers, educationists and students
Findings of the seminar:
a) The Church had a real contribution to make and Christian faith had values in the education process that had to be fostered.
b) Our weaknesses both in content and educational methodology as well as in extra-curricular activities should be remedied;
c) The type of education imparted in our schools should concretely emphasise social justice.
d) The need for religious and moral formation of the students to be highlighted and modern techniques to impart such a formation should be stressed.
Regarding minority rights, two types of opinion were expressed: one insisted on the defence of minority rights while the other wanted to see minority rights in a still bigger context which they felt would be the best guarantee for the same. All were agreed that every step should be taken to preserve and strengthen the contribution of the Church in the field of education.
Archbishop S. Arulappa mentioned also that he taken up the matter of a Memorandum to be presented to the Government of India regarding the contribution of the Catholic Church in the field of education as suggested by the Standing Committee meeting held last year
Archbishop S. Arulappa also mentioned the communication received from the S. Cong. for Catholic Education regarding the problems raised by the Catholic education in a pluralistic society. He had sent copies of it to all the consultors. The response however was poor. The main difficulty was that there was crisis of identity and many did not know where we stood in the matter of Catholic education. This again emphasized the need for a deep study on the role of Catholic education in the changing world of today.
Themes decided upon at the meeting for coming General Meeting – Evangelization of the Modern World and The Role of the Church in Education in the Seventies.
Reports of the Commissions & Committees of the CBCI - for the years 1972-73 (Jan 6-14, 1974 – Calcutta)
1st meeting - 7th Sept. 1972 - Proposal to set up Diocesan Board of Education –
to be an advisory body to the Local Ordinary in all matters of Catholic Education, to represent and safeguard the interest of Catholic educational institutions, to co-ordinate the work of various Catholic educational organizations in the diocese and at the national level, and to organize conferences, seminars etc. and to produce educational publications.
2nd meeting - 13th May 1973 – sub-committee formed
Members of the Commission:
1. Archbishop S. Arulappa : Chairman
2. Archbishop L. Raymond : Member
3. Bishop M. Fernandez : Member
1. Fr. M.M. Balaguer S.J. : (JEA)
2. Fr. T.A. Mathias S.J. : (AIACHE)
3. Fr. D.S. Amalorpavadass : (NBCLC)
4. Fr. J. Vallamattam : (The Xavier Board)
5. Sr. Moira A.C. : (The Xavier Board)
6. Fr. H. Volken S.J. : (ISI Training Centre)
7. Fr. Columban OFM Cap : (AINACS)
8. Sr. M. Pia RJM : (AINACS)
9. Fr. Claude D’Souza : (AICUF)
10. Mr. Noel D’Silva : (AIFCTG)
11. Dr. A. Mascarenhas : (Family Welfare Centre)
12. Sr. M. Noelline A.C. : (Secretary)
A sub-committee consisting of Fathers A. Verstraeten S.J., J.Vallamattam and T.V. Kunnunkal S.J. was constituted to prepare a few guidelines for Catholic Education in India
Setting of National Office of All India Association of Catholic Schools(AINACS) at CBCI Centre, New Delhi, Sr. M. Pia RJM, the General Secretary of AINACS
Report of the Commission for Education (Standing Committee – May 4-6,1987, Bangalore)
Subject: Regrouping of various organization under each Commission.
The House agreed on the proposal of Archbishop, Henry D’Souza to bring the AICUF under the Commission of Education and Culture.
PROCEDURE FOR APPOINTMENT OF THE CHAPLAIN OF ‘AICUF’
1. The National Chaplain is selected from the names or name presented by the National Chaplain/Province of Madras to the CBCI Standing Committee through the Chairman of the Commission. The Standing Committee makes the appointment. A five year term should be fixed; this can be renewed.
2. The Regional Chaplain is selected from names or name suggested to the Regional Council of Bishops, through the National Chaplain. The Regional Council of Bishops will appoint the Regional Chaplain. The term of office should be five years.
3. Unit Chaplains are appointed by the local Ordinary from the names or name suggested by the Regional and National Chaplains.
Previous mode of appointment: as presented by Fr. Leo Tagore, the National Chaplain of AICUF
1. The National Chaplain in consultation with the National Executive/Central Committee and the Provincial of Madurai Jesuit Province and other concerned authorities proposes the name/names. The JCI and /or the Provincial of Madurai presents the candidate to the CBCI Standing Committee through the Chairman of the Commission, who makes the appointment.
2. The National Chaplain in consultation with the Regional Executive of the AICUF and the local Church or religious authorities chooses a suitable person and appoints him with the prior knowledge/ approval of the local bishop.
3. The Unit Advisers are appointed by the local bishop if it involves a diocesan priest or by the local Superior or Principal if it involves a religious priest or nun or layman of a College. Generally the Parish Priest or his assistant acts as the Unit Chaplain if there is a unit attached to the parish. In all these appointments wide consultations involving students themselves and other AICUF leaders specially the Regional Chaplain is presupposed. The Regional Chaplain is responsible for finding the Unit Advisers. Professors or committed ex-AICUFers are preferred for this post.
Fr. Tagore also noted that the National Chaplain is called “National Director” on the letter-head of AICUF
Report of the Commission for Education (General Meeting- Nov. 1989, Shillong)
New Appointments: (Education & Culture)
Archbishop Joseph Powathil (Chairman)
Bishop Joseph Pallikaparambil
Bishop Francis Braganza
Subject: Minority Rights in Education:
Archbishop Joseph Powathil, Chairman of the Commission of the Commission of Education and Culture, dwelt upon certain modern trends, prevailing even among Catholics, to curtail and, in some cases, to nullify the educational rights of minorities. He traced the history of the Constitutional provision protecting the rights of the minorities and cautioned against some fallacious arguments that confuse the minds of the people
Intervening in the debate, some Bishops spoke of a concerted effort, a planned campaign being organized in the country against our institutions although contradictory judgements and policies are to be found in different States. A new edition of the CBCI publication “ Jugdgements on Minority Educational Rights” should be procedures laid down by the Government and concentrate more their attention and energies on the education of Dalits and Tribals.
MINORITY RIGHTS IN EDUCATION: CURRENT SITUATION
The minority rights in article 30 refer to education. They are given only to religious and linguistic minorities. Children of minorities have to be brought up in the traditions and values of their parents. Or else the very existence of minorities will be threatened. The training in traditions and values has to be given in their most impressionable age – during their period of education. This formation is not unrelated to their general education.
HISTORY OF THE CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISION
The thought of protecting the rights of the minorities was present in the minds of the authorities even before the attainment of independence.
The Government of India Act 1935 provided for representation for the minorities in the federal and provincial legislatures of India. Sir Stafford Cripps in his broadcast on March 3, 1946, mentioned: “ As regards the position of minority communities within the new Indian Union, I am confident that the Constitution making body will make just provision for their protection ”. The Cabinet Mission’s Explanatory Statement, issued on May 25, 1946 made this observation that when the Constituent Assembly completed its tasks, it would provide “adequate protection of the minorities”.
Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru moved a resolution to set up the Advisory Committee for the protection of the Minorities: “ Unless the minorities are fully satisfied we cannot even make any progress: we cannot even maintain peace in an undisturbed manner”.
Chief Justice S.R. Das of the Supreme Court, in rejecting some of the provisions of the Kerala Education Bill as in violation of the constitutional guarantees, observes:
“ There can be no manner of doubt that our Constitution has guaranteed certain cherished rights of the minorities concerning their language, culture and religion… so long as the Constitution stands as it is and is not altered, it is, we conceive, the duty of this Court to uphold the Fundamental Rights and thereby honour our sacred obligations to the minority communities who are of our own. ”
Justice K.K. Mathew, in his judgement on the case between St. Xavier’s College Vs. the State of Gujarat, considers the parental right to choose educational institutions of their choice to be an underlying factor behind the minority rights:
“ The reason why the Constitution-makers were at pains to grant religious minorities the fundamental right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice is to give the parents in these communities an opportunity to educate their children in institutions having an atmosphere which is congenial to their religion… The parental right in education is the very pivotal point of a democratic system. It is the touchstone of difference between democratic education and monolithic system of cultural totalitarianism. ”
Justice Mathew further points out that even the secular education would be imperfect if it is not provided in the ambience of religion and culture: “ The sheer omission of religion from curriculum is itself a pressure against religion. Since they (minorities) realize that the teaching of religion and instruction in the secular branches cannot rightfully or successfully be separated one from the other, they are to maintain their own system of schools and colleges for general education ”.
Regarding aid given by the State, Chief Justice Das has this to observe: “ No educational institutions can in actual practice be carried on without aid from the State and if they will not get it unless they surrender their rights, they will by compulsion of financial necessities, be compelled to give up their rights under article 30(i). ” He further interprets the meaning of Article 30(i) stating: “ The minorities… regard it as essential that the education of their children should be accordance with the teaching of their religion and they hope, quite honestly, that such education cannot be obtained in ordinary schools designed for all the members of the public but can be secured in schools conducted under the influence and guidance of people well-versed in the tenets of religion and traditions of their culture. ”
Report of the Commission for Education (General Meeting – Jan 1992, Pune)
Supreme Court’s Judgement on St. Stephen’s College.
The Judgement of the Supreme Court regulating the intake( admissions) of minority community students with due regard to the need of the community which the institutions was intended to serve was found most damaging. In no case such admission could exceed 50% of the annual admission.
1) It is not clear whether this decision applies to only the St. Stephen’s or all aided institutions.
2) This would affect adversely areas, where Christian or Catholics concentrations are more: like Bombay, Mangalore, Goa, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Chhota Nagpur region of Bihar, Orissa and M.P.
3) It was suggested that the CBCI could act in consultation with All India Association for Christian Higher Education (AIACHE) on this matter.
4) A Book containing all Supreme Court and High Court Judgements on Education and minority institutions is planned to be published by AIACHE in collaboration with Fr. Vallamattam.
5) How the word minority community was to be understood enquired Archbishop Mar Gregorios. Could a Catholic Diocese owning the Institution be considered as the minority community for the purpose?
Fr. Vallamattam said if a diocese declares itself as following a religion different from the other diocese, it can be treated as a separate minority community. But there is a Kerala agreement in which several dioceses together consider themselves as the members of the Minority Community which encompasses them all.
April 27-30, 1993 - Delhi - Supreme Court Judgment on Educational matters
Chairman – Archbishop Powathil,
Subject of discussion – Admissions to Professional Colleges
Position taken by the Government of Karnataka was that if St. John’s Medical College felt aggrieved by the Government’s decision, and if it felt that its rights as a minority institution were being infringed, it was free to seek redress from the Judiciary.
The Governing Board of St. John’s Medical College has decided to approach the Supreme Court for redress.
Report of the Commission for Education (Standing Committee, April 16-18, 1997, Delhi)
Supreme Court Case on Minority Rights
Fr. P.P.George, the new Secretary to the Commission for Education presented the following note for the information of the members.
Mr. Nariman, Mr. Kapil Sibal, Mr. Rajiv Dhawan and Mr. Soli Sorabjee stood on behalf of various minority groups and institutions before 11 judges of the Supreme Court. The major trends are the following:
1. The Court is asking whether article 30(i) will apply to professional education especially medical and engineering studies. The lawyers have been clarifying that the word ‘educational institutions’ have a wide scope and professional courses are also necessary for development of minorities and to enhance their contribution to the national society. The other side of the argument is that article 30(i) will apply to theological and school education only.
2. Some judges feel that the article 30(i) is not for all time and after a stage minorities should get ‘assimilated’ in the main stream of society. Lawyers have said there is no question of assimilation or merging. Minorities will retain their cultural identity and coexist with others forming a composite culture.
3. A member of the religious minority will be eligible for minority rights anywhere in India.
4. Judges are divided on the question whether receiving of grant in aid will place an obligation on minority institutions to admit students according to government rules. It has been explained that article 30(i) is a fundamental right and mere acceptance of aid will not nullify it.
5. It has been pointed out by the lawyers that if there is misuse of the law offenders should be punished according to relevant rules. It is not correct to change the law just because there is some misuse by a few people. The 50% ceiling of admissions fixed in the St. Stephen’s College case has been objected to by all lawyers. Article 30(i) gives full freedom at the discretion of minority institutions.
6. Whatever has been decided earlier by a bench of the 9 judges cannot be easily reverted or modified unless there is compelling reason and justification
Report of the Commission for Education (Standing Committee, Sept. 16-18, 1998)
Report of the Commission for Education (Standing Committee, Sept. 11-13, 2001, Bangalore)
Subject of discussion – Saffronisation of education
Suggestions made by Bishop Charles Soreng
1. The Church should work towards a Christian Board of Education
2. To join and strengthen the hands of ICSE Board – as most of the schools are affiliated to CBSE and only a few to ICSE
Bishop Patrick’s suggestion
Two benefits that can be received by strengthening one of the Boards, namely the ICSE:-
1. The board itself will have a status
2. The Church will be able to better influence on the education policy.
Report of the CBCI Commission National Centres and Regional Bishops’ Councils, 2000-2001 (March, 2002)
" Among the various organs of education the school is of outstanding importance. In nurturing the intellectual faculties which is its special mission, it develops a capacity for sound judgement and introduces the pupils to the cultural heritage bequeathed to them by former generations. It fosters a sense of values and prepares them for professional life. By providing for friendly contacts between pupils of different characters and backgrounds, it encourages mutual understanding. Furthermore it constitutes a centre in whose activity and growth not only the families and teachers but also the various associations for the promotions of cultural, civil and religious life, civic society, and the entire community should take part." (GE-5)
Ever since the inception of the Commission, there has been a concerted effort at coordinating and networking the apostolate of education in the different dioceses of India. Every diocese has set up a Commission/Council of Education to help to coordinate its educational activities. Besides the diocesan Commissions, there are also Regional Commissions of Education in the twelve ecclesiastical regions.
The Church and Education in the Service of the Nation in 2001:
There is no doubt that the Catholic Church has made a unique contribution to education in India since the Independence of the country in 1947.
It runs 7310 Primary Schools, 3765 Secondary Schools, 173 Colleges, 1514 Technical and Training Institutes, 2 Engineering Colleges and 2 Medical Colleges, 1765 Hostels and Boarding Houses and 1085 Orphanages. In addition, about 3500 Community Centred Service Institutions like hospitals, rehabilitation centres, homes for the aged, destitute, handicapped, etc. are also directly under the care of the Church. This is certainly no mean feat.
The proportion of the contribution of the entire Christian community is estimated as follows: Christians who are about 2.5% of the 1000 plus million people of India cater to 5% of all the primary education in India, 10% of all the literacy and community health care, 25% of all existing care of the orphans and widows, 30% of all existing care of the aged, destitute, handicapped, lepers, Aids patient, etc.
Catholic institutions have always been rated very highly for the qualitative impact that they have had on people. The thousands of alumni spread all over the country have repeatedly testified that high academic standards have been maintained, spiritual and moral values stressed, a secular outlook fostered and a preference given at admission time not only to Catholics but to the economically and socially disadvantaged sections of society.
National and Regional Consultations/Workshops:
1. National Consultation on Indigenous Cultures of India:
The C.B.C.I. Commission for Education and Culture organised a path-breaking seminar on “ Indigenous Cultures – Identities, Aspirations and Destinies” at the Institute of Indian Culture, Mumbai, from November 28-30, 2000. The presence of five bishops, representatives of various educational bodies like Xavier Board, A.I.N.A.C.S., national secretaries for education of some religious congregations, men and women religious working in tribal areas, lay persons including an A.I.C.U.F. representative, was proof of the seriousness with which the Church looks at the concerns of the indigenous people of the land.
Archbishop Ivan Dias of Mumbai, struck the right note in his keynote address when he highlighted the features of tribal life and spelt out the principles of inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue as enunciated by Vatican II and by more recent Church documents, in particular, Ecclesia in Asia.
From the earliest days, the Church has been the principal agent of the emancipation and development of tribal peoples and their cultures. A cardinal principle laid down by Bishop Oscar Severin was, in every area first build a school and then the church. Christian missionaries have been instrumental in developing in advasis a sense of pride in their language and culture. Mention may be made of Constant Lievens, the Chhota Nagpur hero, who devoted his energies to the legal education of the tribals.
2. National Workshop on the NCERT Curriculum Framework for School Education:
In the last couple of years, the CBCI Commission for Education and Culture, both at the national and diocesan levels, has been trying to conscentize the Church about the dangers of Hindutva, communalism, saffronization, globalization, etc. This experience has highlighted one malaise in the Church in India today – the existence of a number of Catholic educational institutions and bodies at various levels, which are dispersed and often totally ignorant of the bigger issues and challenges. When it comes to responding to important national issues and challenges, they appear to be either lethargic or totally ignorant of the matter. Hence, there is a need to evaluate the functioning of the existing educational bodies (organizations) in the Church with a view to making them more active, accountable, with a view to making them more active, accountable, responsive and united in the face of national challenges.
The Commission organized a National Workshop on the NCERT National Curriculum Framework for Education on 31 March and 01 April 2001 at Don Bosco Senior Secondary School, New Delhi. About 30 Catholic Educators from various regions of the country participated in the Workshop. Dr. Rajendra Dixit, Members, NCERT Curriculum Group was the chief Resource Person. The main objective of the Workshop was to make Catholic Educational Institutions aware of the Positive as well as the negative aspects of the National Curriculum Framework (NCF). This Workshop was the beginning of a series of Workshops had in different Regions during 2001, namely – Ernakulam, 17-19 August, 2001; Nagpur, 1 September, 2001; Thrissur, 16-17 November 2001.
Proposed National Programmes:
A - National Consultation on Catholic Education in India Today:
1. The task of understanding the forces shaping India today:
- the rise of Hindu nationalism and communalism/the resurgence of the marginalized/casteism; globalization; the present political scenario, etc. This poses a serious challenge to our nation as a whole, and for the Church in particular.
- According to the Chairman, the greatest threat facing Education in India then was what he termed as the “marketisation of education”. Some of the immediate consequences of the process of marketisation of education in India are: 1) the exclusion of the poor, 2) the promotion of a culture of consumerism, and 3) the neglect of humanities and social sciences.
2. The task of clarifying our vision regarding the society we want to create through our education:
- Education for what? Education for whom? Education to justice, peace and harmony.
3. The task of revamping, coordinating and networking of the various educational structures within the Church in India.
- For this purpose, the CBCI Commission for Education and Culture proposed holding a-four-day National Consultation on Catholic Education at Don Bosco, Okhla Road, Jamianagar, New Delhi – 110 025 from the evening of 23rd January to the noon of 27th January, 2002 on the themes – Communalism, Globalization and Education, Resurgence of the Marginalized – Dalits/ Tribals, Clarifying our Vision of Education, Revamping, Coordinating and Networking Catholic Educational Institutions and Evolving a Catholic Education Strategy. The 60 number participants included Members of the CBCI Commission for Education and Culture, Chairmen and Secretaries of the 12 Regional Bishops’ Councils, Representatives from Major Religious Societies of both Men and Women engaged in Education Associations and Observers from other Christian Churches.
B - International consultation on Indigenous Cultures of Asia:
The Commission proposed to hold an International Consultation on Indigenous Cultures of Asia in Shillong in November 2001.
Statement of the Commission for Education and Culture
ON THE NCERT’S PROPOSALS REGARDING SOCIAL SCIENCES CURRICULUM AND DELETION OF PASSAGES FROM CBSE HISTORY TEXTBOOKS
The Commission prepared the Statement on the NCERT’s Proposals regarding Social Sciences Curriculum and Deletion of Passages from CBSE History Textbooks, which was circulated among the Hierarchy. The text of the Statement is given below:
A course in history in the school curriculum should provide a fundamental way for transmitting our cultural heritage to new generations. It should offer pupils knowledge to make sense of what has happened and skills to interpret these critically, so that they will be able to resist interpretations that filter or distort history. It should help pupils to understand that history is multidimensional, that the process of history is a search for truth based on finding and testing evidence, and that historical explanations are provisional and debatable. Such a study would enable pupils to develop insights and give explanations of past events based on evidence, and develop informed appreciation of the actions and attitudes of people in the past.
Teaching and study of history is important for transmitting our culture and for helping to develop broadly-educated citizens who, in their various roles in society, are effective contributors to the common good. We express our grave concern and object strongly to the proposals made by the NCERT, since they go counter to the very aims of history education and are bound to do untold harm to the multicultural, democratic and secular fabric of our Indian society.
The Second Vatican Council has been a landmark in the Church’s reflection on education. In its Declaration on Christian Education ( Gravissimum educationis), the Council insists on the integration of Christian education into the whole pattern of human life in all its aspects, Christian education does not isolate itself from the world, but is for the world, since human being must work out his/her salvation in the concrete situation in which God has placed him/her by contributing to the human community of which he/she is a part. Far from remaining an isolated monolith, Christian education gets integrated into diverse situations and cultures, thereby becoming itself diversified. Consequently, each country and culture has to evolve its own modality of Christian education.
Report of the CBCI Commission National Centres and Regional Bishops’ Councils, 2002-03 (Trichur, January, 2004)
During the period January 2002 – December 2003, the Commission has focused its attention on making the Catholic Educative Community become aware of:
1) the forces shaping India today:
2) clarifying our vision regarding the society we want to create through our education;
3) revamping, coordinating and networking of the various educational structures within the Church in India;
4) the implications of the 11-Judges’ Verdict on Minority Rights;
5) the role of Catholic Teachers and their God-given mission in schools.
With these objectives in view, the Commission has organized the following Programmes:
2. National and International Programmes:
2.1 National Consultation on Catholic Education in India Today (New Delhi, January, 2002)
A National Consultation on Catholic Education in India Today, organized by the Commission for Education and Culture, was held from 23-27 January 220, at Delhi. It was attended by sixty-six eminent Catholic educationists from all parts of the country.
The participants set themselves the task of evolving a strategy for Catholic Education in this Third Millenium. Catholic education becomes “Good News to all” when it addresses the ultimate concerns of life, especially of those most disadvantaged in society. Catholic education should be sustained by a spirituality of communion of everyone and everything.
“Before making practical plans, we need to promote a spirituality of communion, making it the guiding principle of education… A spirituality of communion also means an ability to think of our brothers and sisters… as ‘those who are a part of me’.”
(John Paul II, Novo Millennio Ineunte, 43)
Strategy and Action Plan of the National Consultation:
To meet the challenges posed by communalism and economic globalization, by promoting a counter-culture of harmony and solidarity based on aspirituality of communion as a basis for Learning to Live Together, in and through our Catholic educational institutions.
1. Helping the educative community of every institution to become aware of the challenges of communalism and economic globalization, and the need to promote harmony and solidarity;
2. Involving the educative community in planning initiatives, such as dialogue and common worship, that fosters such a culture.
3. To initiate proceedings for setting up, preferably at Delhi, a CBCI Centre for Educational and Cultural Research Coordination and Networking.
1. Helping the teachers of every educational institution to become aware of the positive and negative aspects of the National Curriculum Framework and the dangers of religious fundamentalism.
2. Involving the teachers of every educational institution in activities, like dialogue and common worship, which foster greater harmony and solidarity.
To streamline, reinforce and rejuvenate our service of education, we also need to do the following things:
1) Unite as one, rising above our petty differences and rivalries, in order to pursue the greater national goals;
2) Implement, at every level, whatever plans and policies we make; and
3) Establish better coordination and networking at the national, regional and diocesan levels.
2.2 National Consultation on Value Education in Indian Schools (New Delhi, August 2002):
From August 19-21, 2002 the NCERT, the apex educational Body on Secondary and Senior Secondary Education of the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, held a 3-Day Seminar on Value Education. At the invitation the Secretary of Commission presented the Paper- “ A School Programme for Inter-Faith Communication”, which was much appreciated and its suggestion been accepted by the Ministry.
2.3 International Convention on Asian Cultures (Nagasaki, Japan, October 2002)
As a Consultor of the Pontifical Council for Culture, the Secretary attended the Asian Convention of the Pontifical Council for Culture at Nagasaki, Japan from 15 to 17 October 2002, where he also presented a Paper on “ Catholic Cultural Centres Meeting the Challenges of Asia: Networking a Line of Action for the Inculturation of the Faith in the Far East”.
2.4 National Symposium on Indigenous Cultures(Shillong, November 2002):
A National Symposium on Indigenous Cultures of North and Northeast India, organized jointly by the CBCI Commission for Education and Culture and the Archdiocese of Shillong, was held at the Pastoral Centre, Shillong, from 1 – 4 November 2002. Sixty-three participants including Church dignitaries and delegates from all the North-Eastern States, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and South India participated in the Symposium on Understanding Tribal Cultures: Education in Tribal Cultures. It was a unique occasion to get an in-depth understanding about the great mosaic of indigenous cultures in India.
2.5 International Conference on Globalization and Catholic Higher Education (Vatican, December 2002):
The Commission was represented by the Secretary at the International Conference on Globalization and Catholic Higher Education: Hopes and Challenges, held at Vatican City from 2 to 6 December 2002. The Conference was jointly organized by the Congregation for Catholic Education and the International Federation of Catholic Universities.
2.6 Seminar on Peace and Value Education (Kochi, Kerala, December 2002):
A Seminar on Peace and Value Education was jointly organized by the Commission, NCERT, New Delhi and Dharma Bharathi, Secunderabad, at Kochi, Kerala from 12 to 14 December, 2002. It was attended by 210 delegates from all over India. Kerala holds the pride of place in India for literacy, women’s empowerment and human development index. In spite of this proud heritage, Kerala also ranks firsts in suicide, alcoholism and divorce rates. The theme of the Seminar, “ No real development, no permanent peace without moral values” was an eye-opener to Kerala.
2.7 Seminar on Supreme Court Judgement on Minority Rights (New Delhi,December 2002):
The CBCI Commission for Education and Culture organized a One-Day Seminar on the Supreme Court 11-Judge Verdict on Minority Rights on December 17, 2002 in New Delhi, Seventy delegates representing 10 of the 12 Regional Bishops’ Conferences, Conference of Religious of India (CRI), Xavier Board, All India National Association of Catholic Schools (AINACS) and Heads of Institutions actively participated in the programme.
The resource person of the Seminar was Rev. Fr. P.D. Mathew, S.J., Advocate, Supreme Court of India and Programme Director, Programme for Legal Aid, Indian Social Institute, New Delhi. He discussed and clarified the questions posed by the 11 Bench Judges and several other issues related to Minority Educational Institutions.
2.8 National Consultation on Catholic Teachers and Their Mission in Schools (Bangalore, May 2003):
A National Consultation on “Catholic Teachers and their Mission in Schools,” was convened by the CBCI Commission for Education and Culture at the Indian Social Institute, Bangalore, on 4-7 May 2003. The 64 participants, drawn from 32 dioceses representing nine out of the 12 ecclesiastical regions of the Church in India, spent the four days in reflecting on the profile of the catholic teacher and in examining his/her specific mission in today’s complex and challenging situation.
The participants were unanimous in pointing out that the educational scenario in the country is being seriously challenged by a socio-political situation that has been vitiated by factors such as communal discord and hatred arising from religious intolerance, the onslaught of globalization, and an unfair, uncaring and lopsided promotion of technology.
Against this background, the participants of the consultation, set themselves the task of examining the role of the Catholic teacher today who is called not only to play the role of skillful transmitter of knowledge, but would also have to be healer, guide and guru to young people on their pilgrimage to wholeness and holiness.
Report of the CBCI Commission National Centres and Regional Bishops’ Councils, 2002-03 (Bangalore, April 27-29, 2004)
Education and the Present Scenario:
The Chairman of the Commission for Education and Culture, Bishop Charles Soreng, had sent a note on education and the present scenario in the country, especially the proposed bill on education titled ‘Free and Compulsory Education Bill, 2004’. [ Click for details]. The house thanked the Commission for the information and asked it to keep track of what was happening in the education field, especially if there was anything detrimental to the interest of the Church-run educational institutions and to the Church’s position on education in the legislation, which the Government wanted to enact.
Report of the 104th CBCI STANDING COMMITTEE MEETING
(Bangalore, September 26-28, 2006)