By Robin Gomes
“By means of education, religions contribute to promoting the human person, and they aim to cooperate actively with international organizations to educate young people to a culture of peace and fraternity.” The Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education made the statement in a communique on Tuesday, at the end of the meeting of some 20 representatives of the world’s religions with Pope Francis in the Vatican, on the theme, “Religions and Education: Towards a Global Compact on Education”.
The Congregation organized the meeting for October 5, World Teachers’ Day of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), “to actuate all necessary measures to put education and the human person at the centre of the international agenda”.
The event was part of the Global Compact on Education, an initiative that Pope Francis originally launched on 12 September 2019. Due to the pandemic, he launched it again on 15 October 2020.
Appeal to governments
In his address to Tuesday’s gathering, Pope Francis stressed the special relationship that religious traditions have with education. He said that religions are called to add their voice to the movement for a new education that can redirect the world towards universal fraternity. In this regard, he urged everyone who cares about education to sign the pact.
“On this background,” the Congregation said, “the representatives of religions, who for the first time have met to discuss matters of education, direct an appeal to governments to rediscover the priority of education in their countries’ political agendas, by offering better support to educators and giving more consideration to all aspects of this category of professionals”.
Educational Pact’s 5 areas of action
The contributions and reflections of the meeting will help further research in the five areas of the Global Compact on Education: human dignity and rights; fraternity and cooperation; technology and holistic ecology; peace and citizenship; and culture and religions. These themes will be analyzed in subsequent events with the aim of actualizing the undertakings of the educational pact both locally and globally, in cooperation with a wide network of universities.
The Congregation for Catholic Education has noted a rising number of educational projects around the world since the Pope’s initial launch of the project in 2019. “We are all invited to place ourselves at the service of the common good, by promoting open and inclusive education”, it said.
Message to teachers
This has been made clear in the participants’ message to the teachers and educations on the occasion of World Teachers’ Day. They expressed gratitude to teachers and educators for their dedication and sacrifice in carrying out their “noble mission of educating young people”, and for encouraging them “to continue on this path with hope”, despite the challenges made acute by the pandemic.
Contribution of religions and youth
Stressing that the Global Compact on Education is not only an idea but also has practical implications, the Congregation said young people are already making an energetic contribution to it. Placing themselves in the frontline of the culture of dialogue and of a civilization of harmony, they are challenging the adults.
The Congregation noted that representatives of religions at the meeting have made suggestions and ideas about education arising out of their different experiences and traditions. “Knowing and appreciating each other’s plans for education is a way to consolidate contacts among the members of diverse confessions, with a view to ecumenism and interreligious dialogue”, the Vatican Congregation said.