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Hopes for Bible Study’s return to Namibia: The Church of England Newspaper, December 9, 2012 p 5. December 12, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Biblical Interpretation, Church of England Newspaper, Education.
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The Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL) has called upon the Namibian Ministry of Education to re-introduce religious education in state schools to reinforce moral values among learners.

The New Era newspaper reports the youth wing of Namibia’s ruling government party and former liberation movement last week endorsed a resolution calling for the return of Bible classes in schools to combat the “escalating crimes of passion and other related domestic violence incidents” in society.

In 2010 the Council of Churches of Namibia prepared a Biblical Studies and Moral Education curriculum for the state.  The current religion curriculum in state schools taught religion from a historical perspective, CCN general secretary Maria Kapere told The Namibian.

The CCN’s curriculum “is to use the Bible as source for moral education.  This will help prevent the growing threat of moral decay in Namibian society and strengthen Biblical instruction in the school curriculum,” she said.

Following independence from South Africa, Bible study at state schools was ended.  However, no moral or ethical curriculum had been put in its place. “Children are obliged to go to school, but are not obliged to go to church. Without them knowing it, they are being withheld from the truth written in the Bible,” she said.

The endorsement of the ruling party’s youth wing for a return to religious instruction tied to moral and ethical development of young people, strengthens the chance for the return of the Bible to the classroom, observers from the Diocese of Namibia tell CEN.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

U.S. Supreme Court allows public schools to give credit for private religious instruction: Anglican Ink, November 13, 2012 November 13, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Education, Politics.
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The United States Supreme Court has declined to hear the case of Moss v. Spartanburg Cty School District letting stand a Fourth Circuit decision allowing students to gain academic credit by attending off-campus religion classes during the school day.

In 2009 the Freedom From Religion Foundation brought suit against South Carolina’s Spartanburg County School District No.7 over its “released time” program. The Foundation claimed allowing public school students to attend religious instruction classes at private schools during school hours violated the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

The South Carolina District Court and the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the Foundation’s arguments. In a unanimous decision the Fourth Circuit held: “[T]he program properly accommodates religion without establishing it, in accordance with the First Amendment.”

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Irish church teachers colleges to merge: The Church of England Newspaper, September 23, 2012 p 7 September 24, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Ireland, Education.
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The Church of Ireland College of Education (CICE) will join two Catholic and a secular institution to form a University level college for teacher training in the Republic. CICE will amalgamate with St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra, Mater Dei Institute of Education and Dublin City University to form the new university, the heads of the schools announced on 5 Sept 2012.

The Anglican Archbishop of Dublin, Michael Jackson, who serves as chairman of the Board of Governors of CICE welcomed the project. “To be part of such an exciting development nationally for Initial Teacher Education is the opening of a new chapter for CICE. As an institution, we have embraced change and development positively at various points throughout our history and are committed to doing so again.’

The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin said he was “very pleased at the new opportunities offered with the participation of CICE. This is a further sign of a new level of ecumenical cooperation between Archbishop Jackson and myself.”

The President of DCU, Prof Brian MacCraith, noted the “proposed research–led Institute of Education has the potential to play a central role in transforming the future of Irish education.”

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

HK govt drops plans to mandate pro-Beijing indoctrination classes: The Church of England Newspaper, September 16, 2012 p 6. September 16, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Education, Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui.
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The Hong Kong government has abandoned plans to implement the “Chinese Model National Conditions Teaching Manual” for the territory’s schools – giving pro-democracy activists a political boost the day before elections for the territorial legislature. Hong Kong’s state-supported church schools and refused to use the curriculum, which critics charged sought to whitewash the crimes of the Communist regime.

Hong Kong chief executive Leung Chun-ying’s decision came days before elections on 9 September 2012 for seats in the territory’s legislative assembly and followed weeks of protests, hunger strikes, and rallies by parents, teachers and student groups. A survey released last week estimated 69 per cent of students opposed the classes.

Hong Kong’s Anglican, Evangelical Lutheran and Roman Catholic parochial schools vowed not to use the “patriotic education” programme, which they say was adopted by the government of the outgoing pro-Beijing Chief executive Donald Tsang without public consultation or review by the legislative council.

The manual was prepared by a teacher’s alliance run by the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, the Hong Kong political party with the closest ties to the mainland’s communist government. The Tsang administration gave HK$13 million to the Centre to produce the booklet.

The 32-page booklet extols the virtues of the mainland government and one-party state. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is described as “progressive, selfless and united” in contrast to the two-party American and multi-party European political systems. While brief references are made to recent mainland political and economic scandals there is no mention of the Cultural Revolution, the 1989 Tiananmen massacre or state-induced famines of the Maoist era.

In July the new chief executive Leung Chun-ying said private Schools would not be required to use the curriculum. The state-aided Anglican, Lutheran and Catholic parochial schools – which comprise a third of the territory’s schools — had declined to use the materials, while Taoist and Muslims schools will join secular state schools in using the materials. Schools were offered $530,000 grants for implementation of the curriculum, which will become mandatory for primary schools in 2015 and for secondary schools four years later.

Last Saturday Mr. Leung Chun-ying said the classes would now be optional for schools. “The schools are given the authority to decide when and how they would like to introduce the moral and national education,” he said.

The last minute concession by Mr. Leung does not appear to have helped his pro-Beijing government. Early returns from Sunday’s voting indicate pro-democracy opposition parties will have increased their representation in the legislature.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

China anger over new schools plan: The Church of England Newspaper, August 12, 2012 p 5 August 16, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Education, Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui.
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Tens of thousands of protesters marched in Hong Kong last week in protest to a government plan to introduce a “Chinese Model National Conditions Teaching Manual” for the territory’s schools that critics charge whitewashes the crimes of the Communist regime.

Organisers of the march from Victoria Park to the government education department offices stated 90,000 parents, children, teachers and concerned residents of Hong Kong took part in the demonstration chanting slogans denouncing “brainwashing” and “thought control”.

Hong Kong’s Anglican, Evangelical Lutheran and Roman Catholic parochial schools have vowed not to use the “patriotic education” programme, which they say was adopted by the government of the outgoing pro-Beijing Chief executive Donald Tsang without public consultation or review by the legislative council.

The manual was prepared by the Hong Kong Patriotic Education Services Centre organized by the 26,000-member Hong Kong Federation of Education Workers – a teacher’s alliance run by the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, the Hong Kong political party with the closest ties to the mainland’s communist government. The Tsang administration gave HK$13 million to the Centre to produce the booklet.

The 32-page booklet extols the virtues of the mainland government and one-party state. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is described as “progressive, selfless and united” in contrast to the two-party American and multi-party European political systems. While short references are made to recent mainland political and economic scandals there is no mention of the 10-year Cultural Revolution, the 1989 Tiananmen massacre or state-induced famines of the Maoist era.

The Hong Kong Professional Teachers Union, which represents the majority of teachers in the territory with a membership of 80,000, called upon the government to drop the patriotic education programme. Teachers’ Union chairman Fung Wai-wah said the government “should not wait until students refuse to show up in class before it reviews the course,” the Hong Kong press reported.

Private Schools are not required to use the curriculum. The state-aided Anglican, Lutheran and Catholic parochial schools – which comprise a third of the territory’s schools — have declined to use the materials, while Taoist and Muslims schools will join secular state schools in using the materials. Schools were offered $530,000 grants for implementation of the curriculum, which will become mandatory for primary schools in 2015 and for secondary schools four years later.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

When worlds collide – Scientology and the Nation of Islam: Get Religion, May 26, 2012 May 26, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Education, Get Religion, Islam, Press criticism, Scientology.
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The Tampa Bay Times reports the Pinellas County Florida Board of Education has revoked the license of a charter school that uses a religion-based curriculum after its students test poorly in the state-wide FCAT exams (Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test).

By itself this summary is not likely to generate more than local or even parental interest. However the title of the article contains a noun that perked my interest; “FCAT scores at Pinellas charter school that used Scientology ‘study tech’ are among lowest in Tampa Bay”, while the lede pulled me into the story.

DUNEDIN — When Hanan Islam and her management company took control of the struggling Life Force Arts and Technology charter school here last summer, she passed out lesson plans based on the work of Church of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.

She said Hubbard’s “study technology” would enlighten children and help save the school. But grades from Florida’s standardized FCAT test released Thursday show that, in one year under Islam’s management, Life Force students’ education suffered.

The article did an excellent job in outlining the local issues involved and was able to pull strong quotes from supporters of the school, teachers and the school district. This comment from school district —

“It’s a classic case of how a management company mismanaged this school, was paid an extraordinarily large fee for dismal services, and the ultimate victims were those poor children,” said Dot Clark, the Pinellas County school district’s coordinator of partnership schools.

Islam’s company, Clark added, “promised the world and gave them nothing. … It breaks my heart.”

— is nicely paired with this one from a teacher:

Some blamed students’ poor marks on instability due to Islam’s repeated firings of, as third-grade teacher Lynne Kittredge said, “good, certified teachers, because they wouldn’t accept her Scientology stuff.”

“We worked our butts off. We did after-school, we did tutoring; we weren’t even being paid. But I’m not a miracle worker,” said Kittredge, who was hired in February. “By the time we came in, the best we could do was damage control.”

And stands well with these comments from the school:

Life Force board chairman Louis Muhammad, appointed by Islam in January, defended her management of the school, saying students’ scores would have drastically improved if study tech had been given more of a chance.

He also blamed the low scores on the Tampa Bay Times, saying the newspaper’s coverage of Life Force’s problems “caused confusion and, in other words, hindered the school.”

“You all put out this confusion on religion, and we’re not talking religion: we’re talking technology,” Muhammad said. “If you all had left the school alone, it would have been better.”

This aspect of the article is very well done. I applaud reporter Drew Harwell for doing a thorough job.

But I stopped short of giving full marks as the religion ghosts in this story were rattling their chains. For the casual reader two screamed out for attention: What is a Scientology-based curriculum and are we dealing with Muslim Scientologists?

I have no idea what a Scientology-based curriculum might be. The Washington DC Fox affiliate in 2010 ran a brief story over parent concerns over “study technology” after the DC school district approved the Scientology-based education program. The Tampa Bay Times article reports the school board chairman says this dispute is not over religion but technology. What does Mr. Muhammad mean by that?

And, the names in this story, Mr. Muhammad, Ms. Islam — to my eyes do not seem to belong to a Scientology story.

I checked Mr. Harwell’s past articles for the Tampa Bay Times and learned the failing was not the newspaper’s, but mine. I had come late into the game and had not read his February story that reported on parents complaining about the takeover of the school by the Nation of Islam and Scientologists.

Linking on its website or mentioning its past stories in the body of the article would have helped bring me (and I assume other readers) up to speed on the story. But I should say the Tampa Bay Times has done a superior job in reporting on Scientology and this article is further evidence of their fine work.

I have seldom reported on Scientology as it has not appeared on the radar that frequently in Europe. Reporting on the foibles of the Church of England is also a full time job. But when it does enter into a story my editors have always cautioned me to take special care as the group has a reputation for resorting to litigation when displeased.

What I have not seen before is a practical link between the Nation of Islam and Scientology. The Chicago Tribune reported last year on a speech given by Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakahan that touted its benefits for “white people”.

He praised Scientology and its founder, L. Ron Hubbard. Farrakhan extolled the virtues of Scientology and its auditing process, which is considered spiritual counseling by its members.

“L. Ron Hubbard is so exceedingly valuable to every Caucasian person on this Earth,” Farrakhan said.

“L. Ron Hubbard himself was and is trying to civilize white people and make them better human beings and take away from them their reactive minds. … Mr. Hubbard recognized that his people have to be civilized,” Farrakhan said to a cheering crowd.

The Nation of Islam is a black-nationalist or empowerment movement that does not allow for white members. Is Minister Farrakhan saying that those unable or unwilling to join the Nation of Islam consider Scientology? Is the Life Force Arts and Technology Charter School dispute a practical working out of this meeting of minds between the Nation of Islam and Scientology? How should reporters develop this story? Or is there even a story to develop?

Setting to one side the controversial public image of the two groups, the Nation of Islam and Scientology do share some common tenets including the place of UFOs in the great scheme of things.

The LA Times states that Scientology’s founder L. Ron Hubbard taught that:

Seventy-five million years ago a tyrant named Xenu (pronounced Zee-new) ruled the Galactic Confederation, an alliance of 76 planets, including Earth, then called Teegeeack.

To control overpopulation and solidify his power, Xenu instructed his loyal officers to capture beings of all shapes and sizes from the various planets, freeze them in a compound of alcohol and glycol and fly them by the billions to Earth in planes resembling DC-8s. Some of the beings were captured after they were duped into showing up for a phony tax investigation.

The beings were deposited or chained near 10 volcanoes scattered around the planet. After hydrogen bombs were dropped on them, their thetans were captured by Xenu’s forces and implanted with sexual perversion, religion and other notions to obscure their memory of what Xenu had done.

Soon after, a revolt erupted. Xenu was imprisoned in a wire cage within a mountain, where he remains today.

But the damage was done.

During the last 75 million years, these implanted thetans have affixed themselves by the thousands to people on Earth. Called “body thetans,” they overwhelm the main thetan who resides within a person, causing confusion and internal conflict.

In the Operating Thetan III course, Scientologists are taught to scan their bodies for “pressure points,” indicating the presence of these bad thetans. Using techniques prescribed by Hubbard, church members make telepathic contact with these thetans and remind them of Xenu’s treachery. With that, Hubbard said, the thetans detach themselves.

In the Chicago Tribune report of Minister Farrakhan’s 2011 speech we find this statement:

The keynote address, titled “God Will Send Saviours,” capped a weekend of workshops focused on health, preparing for natural disasters and unidentified flying objects. The Nation of Islam believes in a UFO called “the wheel” or “the Mother Plane.”

Farrakhan has described a 1985 religious experience in which he ascended into a flying saucer and heard the voice of Elijah Muhammad predicting events that came to pass.

A speech by Minister Farrakhan printed in the Final Call, the Nation of Islam’s newspaper, develops this theme:

The final thing is the destruction. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad told us of a giant Mother Plane that is made like the universe, spheres within spheres. White people call them unidentified flying objects (UFOs). Ezekiel, in the Old Testament, saw a wheel that looked like a cloud by day, but a pillar of fire by night. The Hon. Elijah Muhammad said that that wheel was built on the island of Nippon, which is now called Japan, by some of the original scientists. It took 15 billion dollars in gold at that time to build it. It is made of the toughest steel. America does not yet know the composition of the steel used to make an instrument like it. It is a circular plane, and the Bible says that it never makes turns. Because of its circular nature it can stop and travel in all directions at speeds of thousands of miles per hour. He said there are 1,500 small wheels in this Mother Wheel, which is a half mile by-a-half-mile. This Mother Wheel is like a small human built planet. Each one of these small planes carry three bombs.

What say you GetReligion readers? Are we seeing a meeting of minds? Or is this a local issue whose religious connotations can be exploited for sensationalist purposes? Or is this news?

First printed in GetReligion.

Canadian Supreme Court rejects opt out from state religion classes: The Church of England Newspaper, February 24, 2012 p 7. March 1, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Education, Roman Catholic Church.
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Justice Marie Deschamps

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Canada’s Supreme Court has held that parents may not withdraw their children from state school religious education programmes for reasons of conscience or religious scruple.

On 17 Feb 2012 the court dismissed an appeal lodged by Roman Catholics who wished to opt out of Quebec’s mandatory Ethics and Religious Culture Program (ERCP).  The parents had petitioned the school board to exempt their children from mandatory attendance as the course taught doctrines and beliefs contrary to Roman Catholic teachings.

After the education department declined to comply the parents brought suit, asking the court to determine whether the mandatory state religion class infringed the constitutional protection of a right to free choice of religion.

Writing for the court, Justice Marie Deschamps stated that “although the sincerity of a person’s belief that a religious practice must be observed is relevant to whether the person’s right to freedom of religion is at issue, an infringement of this right cannot be established without objective proof of an interference with the observance of that practice.”

Created in 2008 as a replacement for the secular Moral Education, the Catholic Religious and Moral Instruction, and the Protestant Moral Education and Religious Education courses, the ERCP is described as a non-sectarian, non-judgmental instruction in morals.

The head of the ERCP, Denis Watters, stated after the court handed down its decision  the programme was designed to equip students “with knowledge that will help them decode the meanings of the various religious expressions around them.”

This neutral approach to religion, the courts found, did not infringe private religious practice or believe.  In her opinion Justice Deschamps stated that the “early exposure of children to realities that differ from those in their immediate family environment is a fact of life in society.”

Exposure to other faiths through aegis of state school curricula “does not in itself constitute an infringement” of religion, the judge said.

Student walk-out in protest of Dr Kunonga: The Church of England Newspaper, December 9, 2011 7. December 9, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Education, Zimbabwe.
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St David's Girls High School in Bonda, Zimbabwe

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Several hundred students from St David’s Girls High School in Bonda, in the Diocese of Manicaland, went on strike last week in protest to the mismanagement of their school by the breakaway bishop of Harare, Dr Nolbert Kunonga.

However, Dr Kunonga has defended his stewardship of church schools, saying they remain the best performing academic institutions in Zimbabwe.

St David’s Girls High School was founded in 1961 by the sisters of the Order of the Holy Paraclete – an Anglican order with a mother house at St Hilda’s Priory, Sneaton Castle, Whitby. In 1977 the school was turned over to the diocese and is the largest church-affiliated school in north-eastern Zimbabwe. However, the management of the school has been taken over by the former Bishop of Manicaland, Elson Jakazi – an ally of Dr Kunonga.

Bishop Jakazi and his supporters are alleged to have diverted funds and used the school’s assets for their own use, critics in Zimbabwe tell The Church of England Newspaper. Bishop Jakazi did not respond to a request for comments.

NewsDay reported that a large portion of the school’s 950 students walked out on 21 November 2011 in protest to the school’s overcrowded dormitories and “plummeting [academic] standards.” They had planned to walk 40 kilometres to the home of a former headmaster to “air their grievances that included alleged poor quality of food, sexual harassment and interference by Kunonga’s faction in the school’s affairs.”

They got as far as the Nyamadzi River before buses sent by the school fetched the girls home.

On 9 November 2011 Dr Kunonga released a statement defending his management of church schools. Anglican Mission schools “have always been among the best performing schools in Zimbabwe,” he said.

The breakaway bishop rejected claims that standards had fallen, noting that Anglican schools have “always maintained high pass rates” and that institutions like St David’s in Bonda “are always envied by parents for their academic excellence. We challenge the [Church of the Province of Central Africa] or any other interested parties, to desist from making wild claims for the purposes of tarnishing other people’s images.”

He dismissed claims that he had appointed unqualified teachers and administrators, noting they were under the oversight of the Ministry of Education. “In the event that teachers violate Mission statutes, they cannot in any way be dismissed by the Church, as the Church is not their employer. They are referred back to the Ministry of Education. There is, therefore, nothing sinister about the Church referring back to the Ministry teachers who refuse to work together with the responsible authority for the development of the school.”

Dr Kunonga added that he does “not appoint teachers or headmasters” but only makes recommendations to the Ministry of Education. The claim that he had appointed his “stooges to be teachers and or headmasters only make sense to those who are not familiar with policies of the Ministry of Education in Zimbabwe.”

Mission schools returned by state govts in Nigeria: The Church of England Newspaper, December 2, 2011, p 6. December 7, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Nigeria, Education.
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Archbishop Christian Efobi

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Governor of Nigeria’s Anambra State has returned the mission schools nationalized by the government to their former owners.  The announcement follows upon decisions in the Delta State and other southern states to return mission schools to the country’s churches as government seeks new solutions to the crisis of education in Nigeria.

On 20 November 2011, Governor Peter Obi, accompanied by the Anglican Archbishop of the Province of the Niger and Bishop of Aguata, the Most Rev. Christian Efobi, and the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Onitsha, the Most Rev. Valerian Okeke, made the announcement at a press conference in Awka.

“The collapse of education in the state is directly connected with the takeover of schools owned by the missionaries, churches and voluntary organisations in 1970. That singular exercise signaled the disappearance of morality and building of character from our school system. This can no longer be allowed,’’ the governor said.

The state would also contribute N6b (£24 million) over the next 15 months to the state’s churches for the maintenance of the schools.

The two archbishops thanked the governor for his decision, with Archbishop Okeke stating: “You have written your name in gold and you have wiped the tears of our people. You have rectified anomalies of the civil war and the fault of our past leaders. With this action, the church has forgiven them for forcefully taking over our schools.”

In 1942, 97 per cent of Nigerian students were enrolled in Christian mission schools and up through the mid-1960’s mission schools continued to educate the majority of children in the majority Christian Igbo (Southeast) and Yoruba (Southwest) dominated sections of the country.

A desire to foster a common Nigerian identity following independence prompted the first wave of school nationalizations.  The tempo increased rapidly however, following the Biafra Civil War (1967-1970) when state governments began nationalizing church owned schools and hospitals in a move to combat tribalism.

In an editorial printed earlier this month, This Day, a Lagos newspaper endorsed the return of mission schools.  It noted that it was “concerns about national cohesion” that prompted the “summary usurpation of proprietary rights over private schools by government” in the 1970s.

However, “whatever goodwill” the government expected from seizing the schools was lost by its “failure to compensate the original owners of the schools, or treat them with respect during the take-over process.”

Nationalization also saw a “collapse of values of discipline and staff integrity” and a “precipitous decline of academic standards.”

This Day called “for the return of schools to their original owners” as a way to stem the collapse, but urged the government not to wash its hands of education, and called for a uniform system of school inspections to ensure quality education for all Nigerians.

Archbishop calls for government to return nationalised schools: The Church of England Newspaper, Oct 28, 2011 p 7. October 30, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church News, Anglican Church of Tanzania, Church of England Newspaper, Education, Mission Societies/Religious Orders.
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Archbishop Valentino Mokiwa

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Archbishop Valentino Mokiwa has urged a leading candidate for president to promise to return to the church mission schools nationalized by the government.

Speaking at a school fundraising event on 24 Oct 2011 in Dar es Salaam, Dr. Mokiwa asked Edward Lowassa MP to return the schools if he wins the presidency.  Elections are scheduled in the east African nation in 2015 to succeed President Jakaya Kikwete.  While Mr. Lowassa has not formally announced his candidacy, he is considered a front runner for the post.

Following independence in 1961, church schools received financials support from the government as long as they followed the Department of Education’s national curriculum.  Government policies changed, however, following the promulgation of the Arusha Declaration on 5 Feb 1967 by President Julius Nyerere.  The Arusha Declaration outlined the principles of Ujamaa — African socialism — and called for the overhaul of the economic system and self-reliance in locally administered villages through a villagization programme.

The villagization programme, implemented between 1973 and 1976, created a collective farming system through the resettlement of peasants who lived and worked their own land onto new villages that could provide economies of scale.  The programme also saw a push towards self-reliance in industry and education.  In 1974 the government nationalized private primary schools established by the Anglican, Catholic and Lutheran churches, and forced many missionary school teachers to leave the country.

African socialism proved to be an economic and education catastrophe for Tanzania, and in the 1980’s the government permitted new private schools to be opened.  The government’s failure to maintain the confiscated schools and its disinclination to invest in education has led to a boom in private school enrollment, according to a UN report, such that over half of all students in Tanzania are now privately educated.

In his speech to kick off the fundraising drive for the Bishop John Sepeku School in the Yombo Buza district of Dar es Salaam, Archbishop Mokiwa asked the political leader to pledge to return the schools.  “If you are blessed to win the presidency, please make sure that you return former church-owned schools to us… there are many properties belonging to the churches that were taken over by the government,” said Dr Mokiwa according to local press reports.

The Anglican Church in Tanzania has urged the government to return its confiscated schools, arguing that it is able to educate more children at a higher standard for less cost than the government.

The nationalization campaign had scarred many people, Dr. Mokiwa said, and it was now time to set politics aside for the good of the nation and support the best interests of children.

Christian children indispensable for church schools, bishop declares: The Church of England Newspaper, May 20, 2011 p 5, May 25, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Education.
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Bishop Michael Langrish

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Church of England Schools must have a “critical mass” of Christian students and teachers to maintain their distinctive ethos, the Bishop of Exeter has told his diocese.  Diluting the Christian element of church schools would no longer leave them Christian and would rob them of their unique character.

In a letter released to coincide with the start of term for Devon’s 131 Church of England schools, Bishop Michael Langrish said the church had “always been committed to the education of all children.”

However, the “work of all our Church Schools is grounded in a Christian understanding of the nature of human beings and their relationship both with other people and with God. This understanding finds expression in teaching, in pastoral care, in worship and in the total school ethos” the bishop said in his April 28 letter.

The Exeter statement follows upon a letter published last month in the Times Educational Supplement by the Bishop of Oxford, the Rt. Rev. John Pritchard, who called for church schools to offer more places to unchurched pupils.

“Every school will have a policy that has a proportion of places for church youngsters … what I am saying is that the number ought to be minimised because our primary function and our privilege is to serve the wider community.”

“Ultimately, I hope we can get the number of reserved places right down to 10 per cent. It goes back to what we see the mission of the Church as being. I don’t think the mission generally is about collecting nice Christians into safe places,” the Bishop of Oxford said.

However, the Bishop of Exeter stated in his letter, a church school “is about far more than explicit Christian teaching and also encompasses a whole ethos which is usually quite apparent to any visitor to the school even before religion gets a mention.”

The educational philosophy propounded by Church of England schools had at one time been “shared by the country and schools as a whole. However, over the years, both Government policy and an increasingly secular agenda have diverged significantly from this understanding.”

These changes had led Christian parents to look “increasingly to Church schools to provide the education for their children that they cannot get elsewhere.”

“Given changes in popular culture,” the bishop said “it becomes increasingly important for schools to ensure that there are sufficient numbers among staff, parents, pupils and governors to provide that critical mass by which the school’s ethos is maintained.”

Bishop Langrish questioned the need for a national policy on the proportion of places set aside for Church of England students in Church of England schools, saying “it is up to each of our schools and its local Governing Body, in consultation with the Diocesan Board of Education, to make their own judgement on how best to meet the needs of its local community.”

Church call for sex education in primary schools: The Church of England Newspaper, Feb 4, 2011 February 4, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of the West Indies, Education, Youth/Children.
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Bishop Calvin Bess of Trinidad (left) Archbishop John Holder of the West Indies (right)

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Anglican Church has joined in National Parent Teachers Association (NPTA) of Trinidad in calling for sex education classes for under-12s.

On Jan 20, the Rt. Rev. Calvin Bess, Bishop of Trinidad said the education minister’s statement last week to the island’s senate that seven primary schools students were compelled to suspend their schooling after they became pregnant was troubling.

Notwithstanding the moral issues at play of children having children, “this state of affairs” was “most regrettable as it will impact on those students’ academic career, and ultimately their future,” the bishop said.

The Anglican Church in the West Indies welcomed plans to combat teen pregnancy, “even if it means introducing some measure of sex education in the school system,” he said.

Trinidad & Tobago follows the British education system, with children enrolled in either state or church-affiliated primary schools from age 5 to 12, and in secondary schools until aged 16.  At the end of their primary school education, children sit for the Secondary Entrance Assessment exams, which govern where they will be educated for secondary school.  After completing secondary school, children sit for their CSEC (Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate) examinations, akin to the GCE O levels, and those with high scores may continue in school for two further years and sit for their A level exams.  The free and compulsory education system has given the island one of the highest literacy rates in the world, exceeding 98 per cent.

The president of Trinidad’s NPTA, Zena Ramatali, last week urged the government to introduce Health and Family Life education programmes as “young people are being bombarded with sexual encounters and teenage pregnancy at an early age.”

However, Bishop Bess said the church believed it was important to have the right programmes in place.  A poorly designed curriculum could “produce opposite effects than those which were intended,” prompting children to experiment with sex.

Young people “need to understand that their body is something sacred and that it was a gift from God, so it must be carefully looked after and not abused,” the bishop said.

Headmaster arrested for caning student: The Church of England Newspaper, Oct 15, 2010 p 7. October 18, 2010

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of North India, Education.
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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The headmaster of an Anglican school in Calcutta has been arrested for assault in the wake of the suicide of a 13-year old student under his charge, whom he had caned for flouting school rules.

On Oct 3, the headmaster of La Martiniere School for Boys, Mr. Sunirmal Chakrabarthy, was arrested and charged with assault for using corporal punishment on a student.  The La Martiniere case has attracted widespread media attention in India, highlighting a national debate over corporal punishment, and was topic of interest in the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Calcutta press conference during his tour of India this week.

Rouvanjit Rawla took his own life on Feb 12, 2010, four days after he was beaten by the school’s headmaster.  Rawla’s father filed a civil lawsuit against the school and lodged a complaint with the Calcutta police, alleging assault.

On June 11 the school released a press statement saying “As a School, we deeply regret the loss of a young life. Attempts being made to hold the school entirely responsible are certainly misplaced.”

However, it defended caning recalcitrant students.  “There are times, when children need to be corrected and helped. The idea has always been to inculcate a sense of values amongst them. It is also important for the School to ensure that there is an environment conducive to learning and often corrective measures have to be taken to ensure this environment is not vitiated in the interest of the larger student community of the School,” the school said.

An inquiry by the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights—a quasi-governmental body—on June 9 found the headmaster and school guilty of misconduct and recommended their suspension.

Mr. Chakrabarthy stated that he had “apologised to the school board and for this I am ready to face the consequences.”

India’s private Anglican and Roman Catholic schools have reared the country’s elite for over a century, and the 175-year old La Martiniere School and its sister academy for girls have educated many of Calcutta’s and India’s government, business, military and social elite.

In 2007 the Church of North India banned its schools from using corporal punishment and announced that teachers who caned students would be dismissed.

“Incidents of a student being subjected to corporal punishment are rare in our schools,” Bishop PSP Raju of Calcutta told The Statesman in 2007.  “The recent decision was undertaken by the board of governors of the schools to handle the issue more strictly” and give firm guidance to teachers, he said.

However, the ban on corporal punishment was not instituted at La Martineire, and in May a diocesan spokesman told the Press Trust of India the death was an “eye opener for us.”

“Caning has been a traditional practice in this country, but things have changed with time. Now, we have to orient our teachers to win the confidence and respect of the children. In future, we can assure that there will be no such incident,” the Rev. Sukhen Biswas, a member of the diocesan executive council, said.

Asked his view of the La Martineire case, the Archbishop of Canterbury told reporters in Calcutta: “I would not like to say much about this particular case as it is sub judice. But like in India, corporal punishment is punishable by law in England.”

Calcutta caning leads to calls for school reform: The Church of England Newspaper, June 25, 2010 p 8. July 4, 2010

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of North India, Education.
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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Church leaders in India are scrambling to control the media fallout sparked by the suicide of a 13 year old boy at one of the country’s premier church schools after he was caned by the headmaster.

On Feb 12, Rouvanjit Rawla took his own life, four days after he was caned by the headmaster of La Martiniere School for Boys in Calcutta.  Rawla’s father has filed a lawsuit against the school, while Calcutta police are investigating the circumstances of his death.

On June 14 the school released a press statement saying “As a School, we deeply regret the loss of a young life. Attempts being made to hold the school entirely responsible are certainly misplaced. There are times, when children need to be corrected and helped. The idea has always been to inculcate a sense of values amongst them. It is also important for the School to ensure that there is an environment conducive to learning and often corrective measures have to be taken to ensure this environment is not vitiated in the interest of the larger student community of the School.”

Headmaster Sunirmal Chakrabarthy stated that he had “apologised to the school board and for this I am ready to face the consequences.”

However, school authorities have stated they will not act against Mr. Chakranbarthy at this time.   “There is no question of sacking the principal. He is innocent unless proved guilty,” the secretary of the Board of Governors Supriyo Dhar said.

However, school authorities have stated they will not act against Mr. Chakranbarthy at this time.   “There is no question of sacking the principal. He is innocent unless proved guilty,” school secretary Supriyo Dhar told the Calcutta Telegraph.

India’s private Anglican and Roman Catholic schools have reared the country’s elite for over a century, and the 175-year old La Martiniere School and its sister academy for girls have educated many of Calcutta’s and India’s government, business, military and social elite.  However, only a minority of the students at these schools are Christian.  Hindu nationalists have attacked their influence and called for an end to their links to the church.

The death of Rouvanjit Rawla also comes in the wake of a February 2004 Calcutta High Court ruling that held that caning in state schools in West Bengal was unlawful and ordered a halt to its use.

In 2007 the Church of North India banned its schools from using corporal punishment and announced that teachers who caned students would be dismissed.

“Incidents of a student being subjected to corporal punishment are rare in our schools,” Bishop PSP Raju of Calcutta told The Statesman in 2007.  “The recent decision was undertaken by the board of governors of the schools to handle the issue more strictly” and give firm guidance to teachers, he said.

The rule does not appear to have been enforced at the church’s elite schools however.  On June 9 the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights inspected La Martiniere and found that it continued to use corporal punishment to discipline students.

In May the new Bishop of Calcutta, the Rt. Rev. Ashok Biswas—who serves as chairman of the school’s board of governors—sacked board members Neil O’Brien and K.S. David after they called for the headmaster to be dismissed for caning the boy.

The Rev. Sukhen Biswas, a member of the diocesan executive council told the Press Trust of India the death was an “eye opener for us. We are priests and value every life. We are really shocked by what happened to a budding child.”

“Caning has been a traditional practice in this country, but things have changed with time. Now, we have to orient our teachers to win the confidence and respect of the children. In future, we can assure that there will be no such incident,” said Mr. Biswas.

The bishop was abroad, Mr. Biswas said, and had not had an opportunity to review the lawsuit or the charges made by school inspectors, however, the diocese would wait upon the final police report before it acted.  “Until the principal is found guilty, [the headmaster] should be given a fair trial. He should face the probe rather than go on leave or resign,” he said.

However, the diocese would act immediately to increase the number of school chaplains and seek to promote a stronger Christian ethos among the students and faculty, he said.

Unionists back Church in row over school funding: CEN 11.13.09 p 7. November 20, 2009

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Unionist members of the Northern Ireland Assembly lent their support last week to the Church of Ireland in its battle with the Republic of Ireland’s Education Minister Batt O’Keefe over cuts in state funding for Protestant schools.

During a debate over Education cooperation between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland at Stormont, Democratic Unionist member Mervyn Storey challenged the Northern Ireland education minister, Caitriona Ruane (Sinn Féin) to intercede with her counterpart, Mr. O’Keefe on behalf of Protestant schools in the Republic.

Given the cut in funding and the “the subsequent remarks made by the Church of Ireland Bishop of Cork, Paul Colton, that those cuts made the Irish Republic a hostile place for the children of the Protestant minority, and the fact she always tells the House how important equality is to her, what representation has the Northern Ireland Minister of Education made to the Minister in the Irish Republic to ensure equality of treatment?” Mr. Storey asked.

Mrs. Ruane responded that she believed that “all sectors throughout the island of Ireland should be treated in a fair and equal manner,” and that this was the policy of the government “in this part of Ireland.”

However, Mr. Storey’s concerns would best be met by writing to “Minister in the South of Ireland, she said.

Ulster Unionist member Danny Kennedy rose and said the minister’s remarks were “unsatisfactory;” pressing Mrs. Ruane to support the Church of Ireland’s campaign in support of fair treatment for Protestant schools.

Mrs. Ruane repeated that she believed that “all sectors should be treated in an equal and fair manner,” which prompted cries of “shame” from the Unionist benches, forcing the speaker to call the assembly to order and move to the next item of business.

On Nov 1, Bishop Colton posted a comment on his “Twitter” account reporting he had received sectarian letters of abuse in response to his comments last month. “I don’t know whether to laugh or cry at some of the anonymous, sectarian letters I’ve opened today in response to Protestant schools debate,” he wrote.

Speaking last month in Cork, Bishop Colton accused Mr. O’Keeffe of hiding behind his lawyers advice on the funding of Protestant schools. “Are we seriously to believe that the founding fathers and framers of our Constitution envisaged a situation where this Republic would become a hostile place for the children of the Protestant minority?” he asked.

The dispute centers round the government’s cut of €2.8 million in funding to 21 Protestant schools.

Irish row erupts over school funding: CEN 10.30.09 p 8. November 5, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Ireland, Education.
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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Church of Ireland’s Bishop of Cork has accused Irish Education Minister Batt O’Keefe of hiding behind his legal advisers in a row over a cut in government funding for Protestant schools.

In a speech given last week at Midleton College, Cork, the Rt Rev Paul Colton denounced the “brutality and financial back street butchery inflicted on Protestant schools in last year’s budget.”

Irish row erupts over school funding

Protestant secondary schools were removed from the free education scheme, after more than 40 years, with grants for caretaker and secretarial expenses discontinued. In his Oct 20 charge to the Dublin and Glendalough synod, Archbishop John Neill charged the cuts were politically motivated, with the government assuming that Protestant schools only catered to the wealthy.

The Irish government had mounted a “very determined and doctrinaire effort… to strike at a sector which some officials totally failed to understand,” the archbishop said.

In a statement given to the Dáil on Oct 20 Mr O’Keefe defended the government decision to withdraw the €2.8m subsidy saying the attorney general had advised him that it was unconstitutional. However, he declined to release the report saying it was confidential, adding that the Church of Ireland had so far failed to come up with alternatives to the Budget cuts.

Bishop Colton responded, “Are we seriously to believe that the founding fathers and framers of our Constitution envisaged a situation where this Republic would become a hostile place for the children of the Protestant minority?” Mr O’Keefe was hiding “behind secret advice about the document, not his alone, but the charter of the people of this country – our Constitution,” the bishop charged.

He also denied the government’s assertion the Church of Ireland had not offered its own proposal, noting he had met “with some of the Minister’s most senior officials” to discuss the issues.

“Our proposal is this and for clarity I state it, yet again, publicly, we want our schools, in their uniquely difficult situation, restored to parity with schools in the free scheme, where they have been since free education was introduced 42 years ago,” he said.

However the minister “chooses not to hear it,” Bishop Colton charged.

Concern over Irish Church School Funding: CEN 10.09.09 p 6. October 17, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Ireland, Education.
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First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Anglican leaders in the Republic of Ireland have accused the government of discrimination, amidst fears that a cut in state funding for Protestant schools will force students out of the voluntary sector.

In a statement printed in the Irish Times on Oct 5, the former Archdeacon of Dublin, the Ven Gordon Linney charged the government’s 2009 budget “singled out the Protestant secondary school sector for damaging treatment by removing the majority of our schools from the free education scheme. Funding and benefits were withdrawn without notice on top of other cuts imposed across the education sector.”

Anger over Irish discrimination

The government’s treatment of Catholic and Protestant schools was unequal, Archdeacon Linney said, and “our schools were hit harder than any others.” While the state supports Catholic and Protestant pupils on an equal per capita basis, “what is unfair and discriminatory is the fact that Catholic children have additional supports in their schools through various grants and a much better teacher-pupil ratio,” he said.

In 1969 the Irish government agreed to support voluntary Protestant schools, providing grants and teacher salaries at the same rate as for Catholic schools. The government’s education budget, Anglican leaders have warned, will upset this balance.

In his address to the Clogher Synod on Sept 27 Bishop Michael Jackson said the budget cuts “hit very hard at an agreement which had, since the foundation of the State, enabled Protestant people in the Republic of Ireland to provide and to experience education in accordance with the Protestant ethos.”

“One fell administrative swoop has cut at the root of this and the devastation of its impact raises serious and ongoing questions about respect for Protestant identity as an interwoven component in national identity,” he said.

In a Sept 29 statement, the House of Bishops of the Church of Ireland voiced its concern over the “failure of government to perceive the distinctive needs of the Protestant minority, not least in the provision of education for a dispersed community which is certainly not characterised by its desire for any kind of educational elitism.”

Church of Ireland schools served Protestants, Catholics as well as those from other faiths or of no faith, they said. However, a “faith-based education often leads to a fruitful outcome in terms of the holistic needs of the child. In a rushed and distracted world, space needs to be made for responding to the presence and the mystery of God,” they said.

“We wish to affirm the importance of equality of opportunity and provision within education,” the bishops said, but also wanted to “express particular concern about those forms of selective intake which may produce academic excellence for some, but which in the long term may foment in others a sense of failure and injustice” arising from the government’s education budget.

Bishop Jackson told the Clogher synod it was “not our wish either to prop up the past or to live in the past” by supporting church schools. “It is our concern, in fulfilling educational aspirations for the children and young people in our care, to make through them an open-ended contribution to public life and active citizenship. Our capacity to do so has been seriously endangered and needs to be safeguarded,” he said.

Nigeria puts faith in Sunday Schools for revival: CEN 1.23.09 January 25, 2009

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From the Church of England Newspaper’s Religious Intelligence section.

The House of Bishops of the Church of Nigeria has issued a call for an invigoration of the Sunday school movement to combat atheism and secularism.

Meeting at the Ibru Centre in Agbarha-Otor in the southern Delta State from Jan 5-10 the church’s 140 bishops and 13 newly elected bishops, focused their attentions on church revival.

The bishops noted the “the alarming growth of secularism, new age movements and militant atheism in Western Society,” and lamented its pernicious effect on young people. The antidote was Sunday school.

“The Sunday school movement has lost its place in many Western Churches with the result that the youth are defenceless against the false gospels propagated by the media. We believe that there is an urgent need to equip Sunday school teachers and youth workers with creative, well designed programmes if we are to avoid a similar fate with our own young people who will be ‘sheep without a shepherd’ if we fail to respond,” the bishops said.

Sunday school must also be coupled with “Bible-centred discipleship.” The bishops called upon all “clergy and congregations” to renew their commitment to the study of Scripture and also called upon all congregations “to establish a healing ministry as a central element of their common life and ministry to the community.”

In other business, the bishops reaffirmed their support of their primate, Archbishop Peter Akinola (pictured), and the Gafcon movement within the Anglican Communion. Archbishop Akinola shared with the bishops the results of his December meeting with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams. The bishops responded that while they supported his efforts to “build bridges”, there could be “no compromise on the need for genuine repentance” by the Episcopal Church.

Nigeria puts its faith in Sunday schools for revival

Irish Synod attacks Government cuts: CEN 11.09.08 November 9, 2008

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Delegates to the Irish Diocese of Derry and Raphoe’s diocesan synod have denounced the Republic of Ireland’s decision to cut subsidies to Protestant secondary schools in order to balance the state’s education budget, saying the cost saving measure violates a 1968 protocol negotiated between the Church of Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

The Oct 29 synod also had sharp words for the Northern Ireland Executive. The Bishop of Derry, the Rt Rev Ken Good (pictured) said the political “brinksmanship” employed by Unionists and Sinn Féin had failed the people of Northern Ireland.

In his presidential address, Bishop Good told the diocese, which has parish in both Ulster and Eire that it was “questionable … whether citizens over 70 years of age, on the one hand, or children on the other, should find themselves among those who are expected to pay [the] price” of government budgetary shortfalls.

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

Irish Synod attacks Government cuts

Education chief sacked after fraud investigation: CEN 9.29.08 September 29, 2008

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The education secretary of a Central African diocese has been dismissed after an audit found he had stolen funds donated by school children in the Diocese of Birmingham to support Anglican schools and hospitals in Malawi.

The standing committee of the Diocese of Upper Shire last week dismissed its education secretary, Richard Bushili, after an audit revealed he had embezzled approximately £3,700 in funds donated to support the diocese’s church school pupils. The diocesan administrator, Richard Msosa told the Nyasa Times that Bushili had also misappropriated school equipment, text books, sports equipment and other goods donated by Church of England schools in Birmingham.

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

Education chief sacked after fraud investigation

Corporal punishment call: CEN 6.06.08 p 8. June 5, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of West Africa, Education, Uncategorized.
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Sparing the rod has spoiled the children of Ghana, the Bishop of Sekondi said last week. Bishop John Otoo called upon the Ghana Education Service to impose stricter disciplinary standards to combat the breakdown of order amongst the young, recommending the sparing use of corporal punishment and firm rules for student behavior.

“Heads, teachers and pupils, nowadays do not care to know the limitation of their bounds; they do not know their code of conduct, and are careless about discipline, therefore contributing heavily to the breakdown of the moral standard of our society,” Bishop Otoo, a former army colonel told the Ghanian Chronicle.

Education must not simply transfer knowledge, but instill discipline he said. Speaking at the dedication of a church school last month, Bishop Otoo said that creating an ordered and harmonious society began with the proper schooling of the young. Addressing indiscipline in schools would benefit the student, the education system and society as a whole.

Bishop Otoo placed some of the blame for juvenile delinquency on western pop culture, saying it sapped the moral fiber of the young.

Yale explains why it hired Tony Blair: CEN 4.11.08 p 6. April 11, 2008

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Former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s Yale University appointment arose from his foreign policy triumphs and commitment to the transforming role of faith in world affairs, the dean of Yale Divinity School said last week.

The comments by Dean Harold Attridge followed Mr. Blair’s April 3 speech at Westminster Cathedral on “Faith and Globalization,” where the former prime minister argued religious faith continued to have relevance in the affairs of state.

The former prime minister will seek to develop his thinking while serving as the Howland lecturer at Yale University and in September he will begin teaching a class to Anglican and Congregationalist seminarians and students from the university’s business school.

The Divinity School contacted Mr. Blair in late 2006, inviting him to lecture, Dean Attridge said on April 4. And “unbeknownst to us, at the same time [Yale President] Rick Levin had also sent a letter exploring the possibility of coming as a visitor of some sort after he stepped down from his public office.”

The prime minister’s office declined both offers at the time, but “he contacted us through his staff after he had stepped down from the prime minister’s job and indicated that he was interested in pursuing some initiatives having to do with religion and globalization in his retirement,” the dean said.

The choice of Yale was prompted by his son’s enrollment at the University, Dean Attridge said, as “Tony had a knowledge of the place and some sense of its resources and scope.”

The role of religion in public life “is very timely,” he noted, and the former prime minister said he was “very much interested in exploring both the ways religion has been misused and has caused harm to human beings and the way in which it can be used as a very positive element of contemporary life.”

Yale lauded Mr. Blair’s work as prime minister saying he was instrumental “in bringing peace to Northern Ireland,” had “played a role in the Balkans, in the dislocation caused, in part at least, by the cultural and religious traditions there,” and was presently “involved in the Middle East peace initiative.”

“He’s wrestled for some time with issues of religion and its role on the contemporary scene and has given it a lot of thought and wants to continue that in a setting where the resources of a great university would be a part of the conversation,” Dean Attridge said.

The former prime minister’s course will be a seminar for theological and business students “team-taught” with members of the Yale faculty. “Blair will be here on site for about five or six sessions of the course, and he’ll be in town for, oh, probably two days, at each of those sessions, and he’ll also be involved in some public events connected in some way or other to the course,” he noted.

Ghana President praises church’s role: CEN 4.09.08 April 10, 2008

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THE PRESIDENT of Ghana has commended the Church in West Africa for its commitment to education and the rural poor. President JA Kufour’s remarks came on March 29 at the opening of the Anglican University College of Technology in the rural Amansie West District of Ashantiland.

The first church-related university chartered since Ghana achieved independence in 1957, the new school will provide technical, scientific and engineering training for a region ill-served by higher education.

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper’s Religious Intelligence section.

Ghana President praises church's role

US seminaries to close down: CEN 3.20.08 p 6. March 21, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Education, The Episcopal Church.
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The Episcopal Church’s three most liberal seminaries have announced they will shut their doors or reorganize due to declining enrollments and straightened financial circumstances.

On Feb 20 the dean of Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois announced it would “suspend recruitment and admissions to all degree and certificate programs.” Bexley Hall announced on Feb 22 it was closing its Rochester, New York campus and would consolidate operations at shared facilities in Colombus, Ohio, while last week the Dean of Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts announced his resignation after the school voted to sell a portion of its campus to a teacher’s college.

Established in 1824 in Ohio, Bexley Hall moved to Rochester, New York in 1968 and joined a consortium with the Colgate Rochester Baptist seminary. In 2000 the school transferred its offices to the campus of the Trinity Lutheran Seminary of Columbus, Ohio, and turned the Rochester campus into a satellite facility.

However, of the Rochester campus’ 13 students, 11 will complete their studies this year. “We are too thin on the ground” the Very Rev. John Kevern told The Living Church magazine. The school will maintain its Columbus campus, which has a current enrollment of 20 students

In his Feb 20 letter announcing the closure of the school, the Dean of Seabury-Western, the Very Rev. Gary Hall stated the Episcopal Church “does not need Seabury in its present form.”

The seminary board voted to begin a period of “discernment” to chart the school’s future. The school’s 50 students in training for the ordained ministry will be assisted in finding suitable places in other seminaries, the statement said.

The decision to close was determined by economic factors as the school had operated on a deficit for almost 20 years. “The stand-alone residential model developed in the nineteenth century is becoming unsustainable for most of our institutions,” as “fewer resources” are available to train students, while costs inexorably rise, the dean’s statement said.

On March 6, Episcopal Divinity School announced it was selling 7 if its 13 buildings on its 8-acre campus near Harvard Square in Cambridge to Lesley University for £16.75 million. The teacher’s college and divinity school will share the library while Lesley will own the residence halls and dining hall and a condominium association will be created to govern the campus. The divinity school’s 97 students will not be affected by the property sale.

Slumping enrollments and a declining financial fortunes prompted the sale, though a spokesman for the school said the dean’s resignation had been planned prior to the sale.

Blair to teach in the US on faith: CEN 3.18.08 March 18, 2008

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FORMER Prime Minister Tony Blair has accepted an appointment to teach at Yale Divinity School.

Mr Blair has been named the University’s Howland Distinguished Fellow for the 2008-2009 academic year and will teach a class jointly organized by the Divinity School and School of Management on the issues of faith and globalization. Past holders of the Howland fellowship include Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, composers Paul Hindemith and Gustav Holst, Field Marshal Sir John Dill, television present Sir Alistair Cooke, and poet Rupert Brooke (awarded posthumously).

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper’s Religious Intelligence section.

Blair to teach in the US on faith

Church criticizes block on education reforms: CEN 3.14.08 p 7. March 14, 2008

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catriona-ruane.jpgThe Church of Ireland has criticized Northern Ireland’s education minister for excluding Protestant churches from the commission reorganizing the province’s post-primary education system.

“We now seem to be being specifically squeezed out of the process and I don’t think that members of the Church of Ireland, Presbyterian Church the Methodist Church and the other churches across Northern Ireland will be pleased to see that happening,” the Archbishop of Armagh Dr. Alan Harper said last week.

On March 4, NI education minister Caitriona Ruane announced that a child’s post-primary school will depend on the area in which it lives. A central and five regional coordinating groups with representatives from the education and library boards, the Roman Catholic Church, and Irish language groups has been formed to craft recommendations for the government in implementing the education reforms.

On March 10, Archbishop Harper and the leaders of the Methodist and Presbyterian churches released a statement expressing their “deep disquiet” over their exclusion from the reform committee. “The minimal nature of the assurance from the Department of Education that it will look at how the Protestant churches can be a part of the planning process” was inadequate they said and urged the school governors appointed by the Protestant churches be included in the process “by right.”

“On grounds of equality and for the enhancement of community confidence ” the Protestant church leaders urged the government to give them “specific assurance that their concerns will be fully addressed.”

Responding to Unionist objections to the reform groups’ makeup, Ms Ruane denied there was an intention to exclude the Protestant church and told the Assembly that there “must have been a breakdown in communication.”

Engineering call by Bishop Butler: CEN 1.25.08 p 2. January 27, 2008

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tom-butler.jpgThe Bishop of Southwark has challenged the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAE) to take an activist stance towards recruiting young people for careers in science and technology, warning the current shortage of trained engineers will hamper efforts to tackle the problem of climate change.

In a speech to the RAE’s annual President’s Reception on Jan 14, Bishop Tom Butler said the engineering profession was failing to attract sufficient numbers of students into the physical sciences and technology. The former chaplain and lecturer at the University of Kent noted that a recent study by the RAE found that two-thirds of young people knew little about engineering while three-quarters did not know what engineers actually do.

Bishop Butler, who earned a PhD in electronics and trained as an engineer as an undergraduate, said young people were concerned about climate change and the future of world energy supplies, and it was in these fields that engineers were desperately needed.

The RAE reported that a recent survey of 400 engineering companies found the industry was having difficult in recruiting graduate engineers, and anticipated even more shortages in the future with the 2012 Olympics construction and the proposed new generation of nuclear power stations.

Ulster concern over plans to axe church school governors: CEN 12.21.07 p 6 December 25, 2007

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The Church of Ireland and the Protestant churches of Ulster have called upon the Northern Ireland Assembly to block government plans to remove church appointed governors from the boards of state primary and secondary schools.

Sacking church appointed school governors “will at a stroke remove the Christian ethos as of right from the controlled sector of education,” a coalition comprising the Church of Ireland, Presbyterian and Methodists churches said in a statement released on Dec 7.

Beginning in the 1930’s Ulster’s Protestant church schools passed into state hands, with the understanding that their Christian ethos would be preserved. Under the terms of the transfer, four out of nine school governor places were reserved for church nominees, and this right of representation was extended to all new schools built by the government.

However the government’s Review of Public Administration has proposed rescinding this right of representation on the grounds that it is discriminatory and contravenes the equality requirements of the Northern Ireland Acts.

Church places would only be reserved for schools that had been transferred by the churches to state control. However, the new regulations would not apply to Catholic maintained schools, the government said.

“Whilst a broad Christian ethos will be retained in Catholic schools, it will no longer be reflected in schools which pupils from the Protestant tradition will attend. Catholic schools will continue as of legal right to have faith representatives on Boards of Governors, however schools attended mainly by Protestant pupils, will be prohibited by law from having any official Church representation,” the coalition argued.

While supporting the rights of Catholic schools to “protect their Christian ethos”, the Protestant churches have asked the government to ensure “parity of treatment” with their Catholic counterparts.

Corporal punishment banned: CEN 12.14.07 p 6. December 14, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of North India, Education.
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The Church of North India has banned its schools from using corporal punishment. Teachers who cane students can now be dismissed under the new regulations announced this month.Corporal punishment in Indian schools is widespread and no national policy governs its use, with some states banning the practice outright, while others permit teachers to cane or use force to discipline students.

“Incidents of a student being subjected to corporal punishment are rare in our schools,” Bishop PSP Raju of Calcutta told The Statesman. “The recent decision was undertaken by the board of governors of the schools to handle the issue more strictly” and give firm guidance to teachers, he said.

In February 2004, the Calcutta High Court ruled that caning in state schools in West Bengal was unlawful and ordered a halt to its use, but permitted other forms of physical punishment.

In December 2000, the Delhi High Court ruled that provisions for corporal punishment in the Delhi School Education Act (1973) were inhumane and detrimental to the dignity of children. “Corporal punishment has no place in the education system,” the court held, but enforcement of the ruling in state schools has been lax.

Bishop Raju said that CNI schools had long discouraged the use of corporal punishment by teachers, but the new regulations and enhanced teacher training would make it mandatory.

CNI schools have also introduced school counseling system to address the underlying problems that had led to the use of corporal punishment. The proposed programme would see independent counselors visit the school, talking separately with students, staff and teachers in an effort to resolve disciplinary issues before they arise.

Moral values ‘are needed in reforms’ : CEN 12.07.07 December 7, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Education, House of Lords, Youth/Children.
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THE BISHOP of Portsmouth has pressed the government not to overlook the moral foundations of education in its plans to reform primary school curriculums.

Speaking in the House of Lords during the debate on primary schools testing on Nov 27 initiated by Lib-Dem peer Baroness Sharp, the Rt Rev Kenneth Stevenson observed the government’s reform plans called for a ‘widening and deepening’ of educational standards.

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

Moral values ‘are needed in reforms’

Bishop backs raising school leaving age: CEN 11.16.07 p 4. November 17, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Education, House of Lords, Youth/Children.
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bishoppacker203.gifThe Bishop of Ripon and Leeds has backed the government’s Education and Skills Bill announced in the Queen’s speech last week.

On Nov 8 Bishop John Packer endorsed the government’s plans to require by 2015 all 16 to 18-year-olds to be enrolled in school or vocational training programmes, however, he urged the government to ensure that provisions for their moral and spiritual education not be overlooked in the new bill.

By raising the school-leaving age, the Queen said the government would “raise education standards and give everyone the chance to reach their full potential”. The speech also announced new rights to skills training for adults and draft legislation to reform apprenticeships.

Bishop Packer told the House of Lords the Church of England had “long been committed to a full and engaging educational experience up to the age of 18. We welcome the opportunity to work with the Government to meet those aims in schools and FE and HE institutions.”

“This Bill will provide opportunities for those from deprived backgrounds to achieve greater status and recognition because of the higher status that should be accorded to skills education from 16 to 19,” he argued.

Bishop Packer urged the government “to correct the anomaly over the entitlement to provision for spiritual, moral, social and cultural development, which 16 to 19 year-olds have in schools but not in colleges.”

It would be “extraordinary to concentrate on specific skills and not to take account of those moral and social values that need to be at the heart of our community culture and therefore of our education system,” he said.

The contribution of young people to society was fostered by a sound provision for
“education in moral and social matters within the work of the FE colleges,” Bishop Packer argued.

Opportunities to “celebrate and value faith and to explore social development” were an important task of higher education. “It cannot simply be left as an optional extra. Values appropriate to our multi-faith society need to be inculcated in the overall provision made through these groundbreaking proposals,” he argued.

Seminary Becomes a University: CEN 9.21.07 p 8. September 23, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Kenya, Church of England Newspaper, Education.
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St. Paul's United Theological College in Limeru, the Anglican Church of Kenya's leading clergy training college, has been granted a university charter in a Sept 14 ceremony led by Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki.

The new institution will be named St. Paul's University. World Council of Churches (WCC) General Secretary the Rev. Samuel Kobia, a St. Paul's alumnus, was named Chancellor.The promotion of St. Paul's to the University level is part of a government programme to increase places for qualified students. President Kibaki stated his government would build ten new university campuses and increase first year admissions in public universities from 10,000 to 16,000 students per year.

Between 2005 and 2006, a total of 131,000 students qualified for university admission, but only 36,000 were able to obtain admission to local universities, the Kenyan Broadcasting Corporation reported.

"A great deal of planning, resource mobilization and long hours of work" had been invested in meeting the accreditation requirements for St. Paul's, he noted, praising the school for broadening its curriculum to include business and communications studies, and encouraged it to add faculties of engineering and science.His government sought to raise in a single generation an educated and prosperous society, President Kibaki said. By 2030 he hoped that all Kenyans would have access to 14 years of publicly funded education. St. Paul's expansion was essential in meeting this goal, he said.

“We have made the first step. We have attained the goal of 8 years of free primary education. We aim to achieve the pre-school education goals in the next two years. We are also progressively moving towards elimination of all fees charged by public secondary schools,” he said.

Founded as St. Paul’s Divinity School in 1903 by the Church Missionary Society (CMS) in Freretown, Mombasa, the school moved to its present site in 1930 in Limuru. In 1955 the Divinity School changed its name to St. Paul’s United Theological College after the Anglican, Presbyterian and Methodist Churches combined their clergy training colleges into a single institution.

Archbishop of York Gets Uganda Nomination: CEN 7.06.07 p 7. July 6, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Archbishop of York, Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of Uganda, Education.
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A Kampala newspaper has reported that the Archbishop of York, Dr. John Sentamu along with Archbishop Henry Orombi of Uganda, is among the seven candidates nominated to serve as chancellor of Makere University.

New Visions reported on June 26 that Dr. Sentamu had been nominated for the Ugandan university’s top non-administrative post, whose duties include presiding over graduation ceremonies and receiving awards on behalf of the university.

Dr. Sentamu is a 1971 law graduate of the University. The chancellor is required to be a Ugandan citizen, aged 55 to 75, holding an earned university degree, and possessing “high integrity and standing.”