‘Catholic education in the service of Society’ speaking notes by Father Friedrich Bechina, the Undersecretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education

28 Feb 2014

‘Catholic education in the service of Society’ speaking notes by Father Friedrich Bechina, the Undersecretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education

CPSMA AGM in the Radisson Hotel, Dublin Airport – 28 February 2014

• Backgound
– There are over 200,000 Catholic schools in the world
– About half of the Catholic schools’ population is made up of non-Catholics
– About 60 million students study in Catholic schools around the world
– There are about 1,500 third level Catholic institutions globally, with about 6 million students enrolled in them.

• There is a growing demand for Catholic education worldwide. This is based on the high reputation of Catholic schools, and the demand of parents for a supportive and
positive learning environment which is universally provided by Catholic schools.

• Parents seek an educational approach focussed on the integral formation of the whole human person, and not only for the academic standards and training in technical skills and competences. The challenge for the future is how to maintain and enhance the high quality of Catholic education.

• In times where there are fewer priests and religious in the service of education, as in the case of Ireland today, the question of the training and formation of teachers for Catholic schools becomes particularly apparent.

• Our experience in countries with a lower percentage of Catholics – like India, Taiwan, Korea and in some Nordic countries – is that through the solid preparation of teachers with Catholic education, non-Catholic teachers come to share our set of basic values.

• We know that in some countries there is a momentum to remove the teaching of faith in schools. At the same time in countries like Germany, with a large number of immigrants, are making a lot of effort to accommodate and include religious education within the curriculum. The experience is that if religious education is removed from the public sphere, then it runs the risk of becoming separated from human reasoning and may subsequently develop in a more fundamentalist way.

• I believe that the underlying question is: “What is the model of education that we want?” If we want education which is tailored exclusively to produce highly skilled professionals, and therefore to enhance economic growth, then we could eliminate creative subjects like art, music and physical education. However, I am convinced that these subjects, like religious education, are of the utmost importance as they contribute to the holistic development of the human person and, thus, create a sustainable human society.


Notes to Editors

• The AGM address by Father Tom Deenihan, general secretary of CPSMA, was published earlier today please see text on www.catholicbishops.ie
• Photographs from today’s CPSMA AGM are available to media from John McElroy 00 353 (0) 87 241 6985.
• The CPSMA is a recognised school management association and represents all the boards of management of the over 2,900 Catholic primary schools in the Republic of Ireland.

For media contact: Catholic Communications Office Maynooth: Martin Long 00353 (0) 86 172 7678