CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 13 October 2018

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Catholic education: an important mission

This year’s theme for Education Sunday is, Let the children come to me, (Mark 10:14). Catholic schools account for about 11 per cent of the schools in Hong Kong with their students numbering at around 150,000—about 17 per cent of the total number of in the territory’s schools. A ratio of about one-in-six.
 
Catholic schools need to look at how to uphold Catholic education philosophy and meet the needs of each student and Hong Kong society. How best to nurture these young people and encourage them to strive for excellence, and perhaps bring them closer to Jesus? 
 
The Catholic Church has been running schools since the very early days of colonial Hong Kong. For over 100 years, our predecessors provided various educational opportunities to teenagers according to their needs at different stages of social development. Over the years, the academic attainments of students coming out of Catholic schools has always been of note, but their moral formation and conduct as good citizens has also garnered admiration.
 
Our schools are characterised by efforts to introduce Jesus and his teachings about life to students so that they might be informed by Catholic values and walk on the bright side of the road guided and illuminated by Jesus Christ. 
 
In recent years, all the government-subsidised primary and secondary schools run by the diocese have incorporated the five core values of the Catholic Church—truth, justice, love, life and family—into the constitutions of their newly-established incorporated management committees.
 
Disseminating these values to students is an important contribution Catholic schools make to Hong Kong society. 
 
Society today pursues materialistic consumerism and emphasises an individualistic and competitive culture, and given the current socio-economic and political environment, young people may feel confused, helpless, and even disappointed and pessimistic about their prospects and the future of Hong Kong. 
 
What practical things can Catholic education do to equip young people to face various troubling concerns, challenges and predicaments with courage and wisdom, to the benefit of the common good? 
 
Jesus is the way and the truth and the life. Bring young people to him. The Good Shepherd brings love and care, and with words of truth brings peace to confused and agitated hearts, and illuminates the narrow way that leads to abundant life (Matthew 7:14).
 
For Catholic schools, the best strategy is to do a good job of religious education and promoting Catholic values in all areas of learning provided by formal, non-formal and hidden curricula. 
 
To implement this mission, Catholic school sponsoring bodies must make determined efforts to invest adequate supporting resources, and all schools should demonstrate the importance of religious education, establish an effective mechanism and train competent teaching teams. 
 
Recently, the diocese suggested launching measures to enhance religious education at school, a concrete action showing the priority education has in the Church. 
 
In today’s Hong Kong, bringing the gospel to tens of thousands of is the implementation of the Church’s education mission as well as a response to the needs of society. Catholic schools indeed have an important mission. SE