Universities from all over the world join to "educate to democracy"
By Francesca Merlo
"Educating for democracy in a fragmented world" is the title of a conference taking place between 17 and 19 March in Rome's LUMSA (Libera Università Maria Santissima Assunta) university. The conference is organised by the "Gravissimum Educationis" Foundation, which was set up in 2015 with the aim of implementing the provisions of the Second Vatican Council.
The aim of the conference
The aim of the conference, was explained by Msgr. Guy-real Thivierge, Secretary-General of the Gravissimum Educationis Foundation, during a Press Conference in the Holy See Press Office on 16 March. He described it as a conference working towards understanding local issues from all angles, from the academic and intellectual to the economic or spiritual. Speaking then to Vatican News' Fausta Speranza, Msgr. Thivierge noted that representatives from more than 20 countries, including professors from 14 universities in 13 countries around the world will be participating.
Amongst these is Professor Allan De Guzman, from the Pontifical University of Santo Tomas in the Philippines.
Professor Allan De Guzman first of all highlights one aspect among many to be considered when talking about the value of education: that of the power of education, the immense potential in terms of social promotion.
"Given the flaw in democracy in the Philippines, we started looking at the power of education, because we believe that schooling will lead to democracy, and because we still believe in the power of education", he says, speaking to Fausta Speranza. He explains that he would like to see "if the learners we are producing in the Philippines are capable of responding to the problems and concerns of the Filipino society". Teachers are not the mere implementors of curriculum, he continues, adding that they will have to ensure "a kind of disposition to be able of course to lead in their respective classrooms".
Another professor attending the conference is Annie Tohme Tabet from l'Université Saint-Joseph in Beirut, Lebanon. Professor Tabet told Fausta Speranza about the difficult situation in Lebanon, with its economic crisis and political impasse, to emphasize how decisive the role of education for democracy can be in a society like Lebanon. She explains that despite its serious emergencies, it is also a country doing all it can to defend its model of peaceful coexistence.
"Unfortunately," she says, "young people are trying en masse to leave the country, while society needs its most promising generation". According to Professor Tabet, all the delicate aspects of the extremely difficult political balance currently being experienced in Lebanon require moments of confrontation. "We also need to be creative in defending the best part of the Lebanese system," she adds, "by ensuring that the right reforms are in place to combat cronyism and corruption. This particular experience can be enriched by comparison with others".