Print Version    Email to Friend
Catholic education ethos

ON MAY 16, over 10,000 teachers from schools run by the Diocese of Hong Kong, Caritas, and the 24 religious congregations in Hong Kong, gathered at the Asia World-Expo convention and exhibition centre at Check Lap Kok, to take part in Catholic School Teachers’ Day, organised by the Catholic Education Office, to celebrate and reflect on the core values of Catholic education the mission of leading children to Christ. 
The theme this year was Let the children come to me! The word “me” can mean Jesus Christ, as well as every educator serving at Catholic schools, who through their words and deeds manifest Christ, disseminate knowledge, conscience, faith and virtues.
Although the Catholic community accounts for less than five per cent of the population of Hong Kong, Catholic schools play a major role in local education. According to this year’s edition of the Hong Kong Catholic Church Directory, there are 248 Catholic schools (including kindergartens, primary schools and secondary schools), encompassing over 147,000 students and over 11,000 teaching staff. 
Recent times have seen major shifts in social values and the emergence of various ideologies. Given the present atmosphere, how should Catholic schools protect the growth of the children? The reflection materials for Teachers’ Day encouraged educators to ask: Do we create a genuine faith setting that attracts students to Jesus? Do we, when teaching academics, integrate gospel values to enable students to get to know and accept Jesus more easily?
Pope Francis has reminded us on various occasions to help young people recognise the truth amidst chaotic values, while also encouraging schools to collaborate with different stakeholders, and facilitate unity and mutual understanding between teachers and parents. 
In recent years, Catholic schools in Hong Kong have pro-actively strengthened religious education. With the new academic year in September, they will launch new measures. For example, Religious Education at primary and secondary schools will be taught by teachers with specialised qualifications and coordinated by Religious Education Coordinators. 
In addition, the Catholic Education Office and the Hong Kong Catholic Diocesan Schools Council will maintain connection with and provide training to Religious Education teachers with the aim of making concerted efforts with more stakeholders. 
The new Religious Education Commission was set up in April to assist primary schools in strengthening Religious Education. In terms of teacher training, the Caritas Institute of Higher Education also offers certificate programmes in Religious and Ethics Education for Catholic Schools. These provide flexible learning modes to equip teachers with the teaching methodology and knowledge required.
On top of a good system and good policies, more communication and understanding is required so that frontline educators have the space and energy to absorb and implement these policies despite heavy teaching loads and administrative work.
We hope that all stakeholders will support schools in caring for students and allow them scope for spiritual growth amidst heavy academic workloads, so that they may recognise that Christ is the Way, Truth and Life. SE