Tuesday, 27 May 2003

Bangalore (Fides Service) – Who is the Catholic teacher? What is his or her vocation and mission? To find the answers to these questions was the purpose of a recent meeting of Catholic teachers in India organised by the Commission for Education and Culture of the Conference of Catholic Bishops. The meeting, held at the Indian Social Institute in Bangalore, was attended by 62 delegates from 32 dioceses who reflected on the theme “Catholic teachers and their Mission in Schools”.
From the meeting it emerged that Catholic teachers have an important role in the present day national context seriously troubled by polarisation of caste, language, culture and religion. It was agreed that teachers can help create a national conscience based on the values of harmony, tolerance and solidarity. In a final statement the participants outlined the qualities of mind and heart expected of teachers and also the characteristics that he or she must have to an eminent degree.
- A sense of consecration – total commitment to forming the young in human and Christian values so they may aspire to making the world a better place for all humanity in terms of love and friendship, peace, harmony and tolerance.
- Embodiment of the values of the Kingdom of God – Catholic teachers must not only be highly qualified they must be inspiring models living what they teach: they should embody the perennial values of the ‘Kingdom of God’.
- Listening with the heart – young people are by nature free, friendly and fun loving, but they often experience frustration, discouragement and solitude. Teachers must be able to listen to youngsters with their heart, cultivating a personal relationship that has the total good of the child at heart.
- A sense of nation building: the classroom is the place where the destiny of the nation is shaped. This is important today when the peaceful co-existence of ethnic and religious groups in India is in danger. Teachers must be open minded, clear thinking and have an intercultural outlook and have programmes to promote national integration, patriotism, interreligious harmony and tolerance
- In the face of globalisation: Catholic teachers today when even education has become a business, must work to bridge the gap between rich and poor students striving to guarantee all children equal access to technological and cultural resources.
The Commission for Education and Culture of the Indian Bishops’ Conference, presented India’s Catholic School Teachers with an action plan to be examined in all 148 dioceses: teachers are asked to comment and make practical suggestions. The plan underlines the important role of teachers at this stage in the history of India. PA (Fides Service 27/5/2003 EM lines 36 Words: 546)