The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Church in education soul-search

Ranchi, July 11: Asking dioceses to “examine their conscience”, church leaders will meet early next year to find out whether their education system has benefited only the urban upper middle class and helped spread corruption in the country.

Cardinal Telesphore P. Toppo said church leaders belonging to 115 dioceses would meet at Velankanni in Tamil Nadu from January 6 to 8 next year to review the role of the schools run by them.

“Next year’s plenary would dwell at length on whe- ther the church-run institutions have restricted themselves to serving the rich and the upper middle class only. It would also monitor if we have been able to serve the marginalised as well,” Cardinal Toppo said.

The decision to hold the meeting follows the cardinal’s lament last week that many bureaucrats who have been charged with corruption had their educational moorings in institutions run by missionaries.

The church, he said, would like to find out why the students had grown to be corrupt in later life in spite of a value-based education system.

The cardinal, who returned to Ranchi today after chairing an executive body meeting of the Catholic Council of India in Delhi, said around 300 delegates would gather at Velankanni to deliberate on the theme, “Catholic education and the Church’s concern for the marginalised”.

Toppo said in addition to the 300 delegates comprising bishops, sisters and youths, the meet would also be attended by prominent educationists from different states.

The council plenary would submit its recommendations, along with its observations, to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), the highest body of the Roman Catholic Church in the country.

The CBCI is expected to meet in February next year to finalise its recommendations to be implemented by all schools and educational institutions run by the church.

The cardinal pointed out that barring some prestigious schools such as Jesus and Mary, Loreto and Columbus, which cater to those who can pay and the upper middle class, most Church-run institutions were located in rural areas.

“Around 75 per cent of our schools are located in the interiors. Most are serving the marginalised and the tribals. The ratio of girl students in our schools is the highest in the country. Still we will review the quality of education and our target bases to find out whether the church has fulfilled its obligations to the marginalised sections of our society,” Toppo said.

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