Transformative Education in the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP)

Transformative Education (TE) belongs to the core mission of the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines.   It is in this context that CEAP’s JEEPGY concerns are understood and justified. However, the call to TE needs greater understanding among our school administrators, our faculty, our students and their sponsoring parents and benefactors. This is a contribution to that greater understanding.

Preliminary Statements

P.1 Transformative Catholic Higher Education and the Fullness of Life in Christ

When we speak of Catholic Higher Education, we are talking first about higher education.

This is in the tradition of the universitas – originally the community of scholars and teachers who came together under conditions of academic freedom to pursue truth – all that could be discovered and said in truth about God, nature and the human community. In our higher education – and our basic education that leads to this – it is our privilege to help students come to an encounter with the mystery of God, the awesomeness of nature, and the richness of the human community through such as friendship, love, and finding the common human good in the human community. It is also our duty to help students gain insight into the brokenness of our relationship with God, the manner in which we have abused nature, the many instances where we destroy rather than build up human community. In this manner, they may come to an understanding of the need of reconciliation with God, nature and the human community.

The academic freedom accorded the universitas is freedom from constraining ideology, doctrinairism, authoritarianism. In our jurisprudence, this is normally understood to include the freedom in our higher education schools to determine who may teach, who may be taught, how to teach, and who may be admitted to studies.

When we combine the noun universitas with the adjective Catholic we do not create an oxymoron. We do not bracket out our faith to search for truth. We do not act as if we had no faith in order to search for truth. In faith, we search for truth. Genuinely.

The Church’s Constitution for the Catholic university, Ex Corde Ecclesiae, speaks of the privilege we have to preside over the tension between, on the one hand, knowing Jesus as the Way, the Life and the Truth, and having, on the other hand, to search for the truth. That is a genuine tension. Our religious experience of Jesus gazing into our eyes from the Cross and assuring us in truth of Life in him, in whom we know ourselves loved and redeemed, does not absolve us from searching for truth in this world. Today, this is a world which includes aggressive secularists who stridently assert that a world without religions would be better for humanity than a world plagued by the conflicts of religion. It is also a world which includes mild secularists who simply believe that religion today is irrelevant to the “real concern” of humanity like acquiring the right celfon or car or house. This is a world where we have people whom we love and respect, but in their religion different from ours maintain that there is but one and only God, and that Jesus Christ is not that God. Finally, this is also a world where despite our unhindered faith in a compassionate God, affirmation of this truth is blocked because the sinful way we live belies our belief.

We recognize this world, were we live in darkness, shadows and light, as a world needing transformation, because of a disjoint between what is and what ought to be. It is a world of widespread superficiality concealing profundity, a world of cheap gadgets, cute toys and titanium trinkets hiding genuine treasures of the human spirit; a world of poverty, violence and war that insist there can be no peace. It is a world where people are frenzied about the gratifications of the moment and have lost perspective of the fulfillments of the future.

It is a world where deep appreciation of Jesus’ incarnation as God’s yes to the world, despite its ambiguities, shortcomings and sins, forms our transformative commitment. In his Father’s compassion, he accepts the world; in his passion he redeems it, in his Spirit he transforms it. I have come to bring life,” he said, “Life to the full” (John 10:10). Ultimately, this is the fullness of the eschatological banquet, the ecstasy of the heavenly embrace. But, for now, on earth, the “fullness of life” cannot be postponed for beyond death. God’s love, experienced today, generates loving action for the “fullness of life” already today, however imperfectly. In this world, the “fullness of life” means the fullness of human community, the socially just community, as it is possible today in history. It means the community which cooperates towards transforming or creating conditions so that all human beings can flourish as human beings together optimally, despite the limitations that this world presents.

It is toward this “transformed world enjoying the fullness of Christ”[1] that Catholic TE works.

P.2 Transformative education and the threefold mission of the CEAP.

The CEAP mission is threefold, and TE is part of all three:

First, to promote solidarity and unity of action among individuals and member institutions that work towards fulfilling the evangelizing mission of the Church in education. Here, what may be stressed are “solidarity and unity” among “individuals and member schools” towards the “Evangelizing mission of the Church in education.” CEAP is an association of schools and individuals. It finds unity in a shared appropriation by each school of the evangelizing mission of the Church. CEAP schools, therefore, are not just about quality education, as important as this may be. They are about participating in the evangelizing mission of the Church, that is, the Church’s mission to share of the joy of the Gospel. For Catholic believers, this is rooted not just in a catechism, but in a deep personal experience of Jesus Christ. Genuine experience of Jesus Christ is not merely conceptual. If real, the experience transforms one’s self, and integrates oneself in the transformative mission of Jesus in the world today.

Second, to widen access to and promote quality and transformative Catholic education. The importance of quality education cannot be gainsaid. Catholic schools must not only achieve academic minimum standards through learning outcomes; they strive to excel in them. They must implement their nuanced visions and missions, and respond to the needs of their respective stakeholders. But quality Catholic education is also transformative. It transforms human beings and the societies and cultures in which they live. In the process, it transforms Catholic education in ongoing self-transformation. This talk focuses on the transformative aspect of Catholic education.

Third, to serve as steadfast and effective catalysts of change through education in the different dimensions of human life. Transformative Catholic education is therefore about change. It promotes change through education. It changes human life.

In understanding CEAP’s commitment to transformative education, this threefold mission statement of CEAP must be kept in mind. CEAP schools find unity in a shared experience of the person of Jesus Christ. That experience impels the apostolic activity of the schools. Schools do not merely teach. They proclaim salvation and mediate joy in Jesus Christ. They do not force Jesus Christ and the Catholic Faith on their students, but they explain and give credible witness to his presence in our world and to his will to establish his Kingdom among us. In our schools, students who wish to encounter Jesus Christ, learn more of him, and participate in his mission of transforming the world, find a home. It is ultimately because of this encounter with Jesus Christ that Catholic schools are committed to transform human society and culture.

We now proceed to the heart of my presentation. It will make six major points

1. The conservative and transformative dimensions of Catholic Education

Catholic education is both conservative and transformative.

1.1 The conservative dimension.

There is a dimension of Catholic education that is conservative.

Catholic schools are committed to transmit knowledge and skills. In fulfillment of this commitment it develops technologies of teaching and systems of pedagogy that transmit knowledge and skills effectively. The set of knowledge and skills pertinent to a civil engineer that allows him eventually to build skyscrapers that can withstand earthquakes is not re-invented every time there is a new set of students. Knowledge is achieved and conserved, and traditions of effectively transmitting it are developed and preserved. It is in this sense that Catholic education is conservative. It is stabilizing. In transmitting knowledge essential to an understanding of the Faith, or to calculus, social psychology, law or medicine, it does not perpetually re-invent the wheel. It transmits truth truthfully. It can be counted on to do this. This is why, even though other types of education may be cheaper, people put their money on Catholic education.

To situate this in the current discourse on education, Catholic education as conservative is about bringing together competent teachers, able administrators, well-provided libraries, updated laboratories, and the like in order to develop among its students appropriate learning outcomes. Learning inputs condition learning outcomes. Sets of learning outcomes produce qualifications. Qualifications produce jobs. Qualitification, not social connections, royal blood, guns and goons.   In the Philippines, based on its Philippine Qualifications Framework (PQF), there are eight levels of qualifications moving from basic education to doctoral and post-doctoral levels. In the context of the ASEAN, these qualifications are recognized internationally through the ASEAN Quality Reference Framework (AQRF). Catholic schools must achieve learning outcomes in their students which endow them with internationally recognizable and testable qualifications. Individual schools cannot say that for medicine they will develop their own idiosyncratic qualifications, nor can they say that for physics they will dispense with teaching about light or gravity. Catholic schools are bound to achieve the government-set minima of learning outcomes. Clients of these schools rely on them to do this. For this, they accept the tuition and fee expenses, which keep these schools alive.

Because schools reliably produce the qualifications necessary to produce jobs, and the professional competencies necessary to manage jobs in productive systems, they can be very supportive of an economy. In fact, the concern that our schools are not producing the persons with the qualifications necessary for our economy has brought about the discussion on the mismatch between the schools’ output and the requirements of the economy.

But learning outcomes are not guaranteed and delivered in a vacuum. They are achieved within the context of the school’s vision and mission, and of the manner in which the school positions itself to affect society. In preparing for ASEAN 2015, government has sought to align all the schools to the demands of ASEAN 2015.

This may by pragmatic, but not wise. ASEAN 2015 is an economic community. As an economic community it will have winners and losers, it will have a method of achieving its goals and paying for its costs.   It will encourage patterns and compulsions of consumption, which may have adverse effects on the formation of students or on the environment. Schools would have to evaluate this economic community to understand how they shall relate to it in the long term. In the COCOPEA-FAPE Summit on Implementation of K-12, Atty. Teresita Manzala, head of the Professional Relations Commission, stated, after a belabored presentation of how the country would relate to ASEAN 2015, that there was now “agreement on everything in ASEAN except ethics.” The statement was accepted without major comment. But it is a remarkable statement. The ASEAN nations agree on production, consumption, finance, and governance mechanisms but they don’t agree on ethics. This means that economic production can be effected, enhanced and maximized without agreement on human rights, human well-being, and imperatives for the common good; economic consumption can be promoted without regard for environmental integrity and climate change. It would constitute a tyranny of economic activity unable to solve problems which it itself creates: the urban poor, the rural poor, the displaced indigenous peoples and environmental destruction.

The conservative dimension of Catholic education cannot dispense itself from being critical. Otherwise, Catholic education would just contribute to a faithless conservation of unjust social structures, where significant segments of the community are deprived of their share in human flourishing. It is not just about producing graduates who will get jobs in structures that are socially unjust, preserving the social injustice. This is the transformative dimension of Catholic Education.

1.2 The transformative dimension.

The transformative dimension of Catholic education complements and itself transforms its conservative dimension. It is rooted in the mission of Catholic education to share the joy of the Gospel in a world that has lost that joy. It is further rooted in Catholic educators’ personal experience of Jesus Christ, which is not possible without transformation. He missions them as educators to spread the Good News to all the world (Mt. 24:14; Mt.. 28:19) about the “fullness of life” (Jn 10:10) which he brings..

The mission then is not just to teach conserved truths and skills that leave persons and the world sad victims of injustice, meaninglessness, and sin – as if the Gospel had not been preached and received.   The mission is not about the effective conservation of unjust structures that deprive the rural poor just access to the fruit of their labor, or the urban poor deprived of security of tenure and humane housing, or laborers deprived of a just living wage. It is not just about getting students to find paying jobs within an oppressive economic structure. The mission is to touch minds, hearts, persons, societies, cultures and human society with the transforming message of the Gospel.

This is a mission of joy and hope in the Lord’s Resurrection. But it is a mission inextricable from participation in his suffering and death.

2. What must be transformed must be discerned.

This general, universal, and Catholic mandate to transform ourselves and society, begins on the ground with discernment.

2.1 Discernment in general

What must be transformed cannot be just learned, but discerned. It is not just the result of experience, accumulated knowledge, reflection, deliberation on the same through speculative and practical reason, and decision making. It is recognized as a result of the encounter with Jesus Christ who calls us personally to love and to care for one another and connects our mission to evangelize with the least and most vulnerable in society. “Whatever you have done [or not done] for one of these the least of my sisters and brother, that you have done or not done to me” (cf. Mt. 25-40). It is therefore faith-based, and seeks, to the extent that our faith mediates this, God’s will.

Yet, while seeking God’s will, it does not expect this to be manifested through an oracle from heaven. It involves a culture of gathering facts through such as the social sciences, the natural sciences, and multi-disciplinary analyses of and conversations on the data in the context of the common good. It is here that the “disjoint” between what is and what ought to be, the “disjoint” between the world governed by economies that exclude and the “fullness of humanity” that Jesus came to bring is appreciated.

It may end not with a mere option, but with a discerned imperative to transformative action.   In this context, for instance, the Catholic educator perceives not just a rational necessity to protect the environment, but a faith-mediated moral mandate to obey God’s will through transformative education.

2.1 Discernment on the ground

The primary responsibility for discernment is the university or the higher educational institution. It does this in reflecting on the discerned disjoint between “the fullness of life” that Jesus came to bring and the social realities, both positive and negative, that it confronts locally. It does this with eyes wide open, in appreciation of the history and teachings of the Church and, when relevant, the traditions and mission of one’s religious congregation, in confronting problems of social injustice. It brings this together with the conversations it has had with local victims of injustice, with the suffering it has witnessed in visiting their communities, with the knowledge it has gained from its multidisciplinary studies of these situations, and finally, with the inspirations received and convictions formed in prayer.

Without prayer, there is no discernment.

The prayer of the whole community, and not just of a pious segment of the community, is essential for discernment. The leader of the university must make sure that this discerning prayer takes place if transformative education is to be genuine.

Discernment may end in a recognition that little action can be taken against the injustice at this time. But it may also end in recognition of the imperative of God’s will.

JEEPGY Concerns

It is in this context of faith that the CEAP has articulated its JEEPGY concerns. These are general national concerns that are not exhaustive, but have captured the commitment of the CEAP in its own discernment of the national situation. Individual HEIs ought consider them in their own discernment, and if relevant, appropriate them in discernment. Each of these concerns deserve detailed elaboration, which I cannot offer here. I will merely bring out some highlights for each concern pertinent to the common good.

Justice and Peace. Commutative justice involves the fulfillment of contracts. Distributive justice involves the fair share of all in the burdens and benefits of society. Social justice, as stated above, involves people – and with them Catholic Universities – cooperating together to work out and achieve the common good. This summarizes the conditions under which all in society flourish optimally as human beings considering the limitations of this world.

When the common good is not achieved, the interests private groups compete destructively against the interests of other private groups. This generates conflicts – not necessarily of good vs. bad people, but often of good vs. good people. Should conflicts not be resolved through dialogue and negotiation on the difficult road to achieving the common good, there result stagnation and demoralization, or coercion, resistance, violence and war. Achieving the common good through social justice is the ultimate requirement for peace.

Catholic Higher Education refers often to “social justice” and to the “common good” demanded by social justice, but in the Philippines (and elsewhere?) it is not engaged enough in a multi-disciplinary ongoing conversation that would articulate for changing moments of history the demands of the common good. Here the viewpoints of the theologians and philosopher are important. But equally important are the viewpoints of the empirical social science, of the natural sciences, and of technology. This need is actual and current as universities also try to respond to the challenge of evolving an economy which does not exclude; this would be an economy that serves the common good, and not merely the interests of a privileged few.

Environmental Stewardship. If there is any issue that has distinguished this generation from past generations, it is that of conserving and protecting the environment. In Mindanao, despite laws to the contrary, our generation has seen the denudation of its forests, which has hurt its rivers, causing problems not only for agriculture but for energy production as well. The destruction by the human community of its natural heritage and its careless emissions of greenhouse gasses feed into climate change. Undiminished greenhouse gas emissions has warmed the planet, causing the virulent destructiveness of hurricanes and tropical cyclones.

The environment is a common good from which all benefit; it is clearly a common good which warrants the cooperation of all in its preservation and protection. But it is exploited and abused by interest groups who have no respect for the environment as a common good.

Our schools have a key role to play in forming our students to respect the environment as a common good. Teaching our students to respect their immediate environment as shared through such as learning to separate and recycle waste and participating in the development of a green campus are essential in this effort.

Transformative education, however, must go beyond the comfort zone of one’s own campus to engage those who would destroy the environment according to the school’s discerned agenda of prophetic engagement. This might include an advocacy agenda for such as renewable energy, urban planning, militancy against mining, or the protection of environmentally sensitive areas like Ligawasan Marsch.

Engaged Citizenship. This is a challenge much larger than members of the school community being willing to participate in efforts to insure that democratic elections are clean and credible. The citizen is “engaged” in the manner he learns to respond to concrete problems in his community and in the manner in which he relates responsibly to his defining political community, his polis. He is concerned for its welfare, and contributes to its well-being and development in doing good concretely.

The formation of the citizen committed to social justice and the common good is therefore a key mission of our Catholic schools. We have generated many graduates committed to private good. But this falls short of our Catholic mission. In the wide array of academic courses and activities our schools offer, it is not enough that the school generates lawyers, scientists, businessmen and engineers who might find well-paying employment and live lawful lives. No matter the professional courses, through its overall formation system, our schools in transformative education, must form citizens and leaders for the common good.

This is however not accomplished through a menu of conceptual courses on the common good. It is accomplished by translating what is learned to concrete praxis. Through the ongoing personal search for the common good in theory and praxis within the university, the student is initiated into the school’s culture of searching for the common good through instruction, experience, reflection, conversations, analyses, research, decision-making, and action for the common good. The students interact with persons, role models and champions actually involved in working for the common good. Indeed, if genuine, it is a culture which does not stop with a student’s graduation, but extends beyond graduation to backstop graduates genuinely involved in the search for the common good.

Poverty reduction.   The university responds to poverty not through handouts and sterile, unprocessed exposure of students to life situations of the poor that result in little more than poverty tourism. The university engages itself in poverty reduction rather through its programs fostering the creation of wealth and its equitable distribution. This is a challenge especially to the entrepreneurship, business management, and engineering programs which form large parts of our schools. In transformative education, the goal of these programs is genuine wealth creation – the increase in the production of goods and services that respond to human need. – coupled however with equitable distribution. The goal of business and entrepreneurship is not just the maximization of profit for some, but the distribution of economic benefits to all. Poverty reduction is possible only through qualified participation in programs which foster the common good.

Gender equality. Transformative Catholic education clearly militates against prejudices against women and participate in an ongoing transformative conversation towards increasing respect and integration of lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons into society as demanded by the common good.

Youth empowerment. Educating and forming youth to enable them to participate with understanding, freedom and responsibility in action supportive of the common good is youth empowerment. It should not be confined to youth.

The JEEPGY concerns are not a complete listing of possible concerns of transformative education. The faith-based discernment responding to the contemporary challenges of our local social situation may require that we address other concerns. Among these are also family life, educational reform, and inter-religious and intra-faith dialogue.

 3.  Activated Freedom

The transformative action of Catholic Higher Education must be brought about in activated freedom. Catholic TE is not just another theory of education to be tucked away among different models considered a school of education. It is decided on and practiced in activated freedom. We don’t just chatter about TE, we do it. In TE, the way we do things change. Among these may be:

3.1 The way we engage in teaching and formation.

If teaching results in learning outcomes for the mind, and formation tames and humanizes freedom, TE will affect the way we teach and the manner in which we form. For instance, many of our schools are engaged in the formation of businessmen and businesswomen. TE will probably demand that the declaration of many business teachers that “Business is about profits and the maximization of profits,” may need to be revised.   TE will look for an understanding of business that is not merely self-seeking, driven powerfully by the thirst for private good. It will understand “profits” as legitimate and necessary, but only insofar as they enhance the business operation to continue delivering service for society and productive employment for members of society. TE will also demand that we reflect on what we admire and what we reward in our teaching and institutional activities.   Our schools can be very proud of a graduate who has attained a government position, but only if that graduate is engaged in genuine public service. A graduate may also have become a captain on industry who has also become a benefactor of the school. But if the industry exploits people unjustly or harms the environment, a graduate working for it may be more warrant for shame rather than self-adulation.

3.2 Leadership development

Leadership development in TE is not just about making young leaders aware of themselves, their desires, their dreams and their needs. It is not just about helping them to enhance their self-confidence, to speak before crowds, to discuss and debate issues before critical audiences, and to lead people towards the achievement of shared goals. Imparting leadership skills such as this may result in very skilled selfish leaders who because of their leadership are harmful for society.

What goals leaders share with those who follow them are crucial. TE orients leaders towards a free lifetime commitment to the achievement of a common good marked by social justice. This requires rigorous education and genuine formation. On the theoretical level, the common good requires serious study and multi-disciplinary consideration. For future leaders, it requires authentic participation in discussions that seek to arrive at the requirements of the common good and evaluate efforts of those who act in its name. For instance, in Mindanao, where the interests of miners, indigenous peoples, environmentalists, anthropologists and religious missionaries conflict, it requires the ability to evolve a consensus through which collaboration towards the common good might be achieved. On the practical level – the level of Catholic moral praxis – it requires conviction that one is being called by Jesus to work with him towards the establishment of the Kingdom of God in which “the fullness of human life” is achieved to the extent it can be achieved in the world.

For Catholic Higher Educational Institutions, open multi-disciplinary conversations on the common good are a necessary component of its practice of TE.   Because the common good is never fully achieved, and understandings of it must be re-evaluated with the changing condition of history, these must be ongoing, unending discussions.

Participating in these discussion, whether as students or as graduates, support the transformation of individuals, institutions and societies envisioned by TE.

3.3 Some impacts on disciplinal education.

TE affects the way professional disciplines are taught.

For instance, TE does not just teach political science to help future politicians win political power; it sensitizes future politicians to the challenges of achieving the common good and elicits their commitment to this in freedom. TE does not just form economists to describe the rise and fall of wealth in various countries, but to contribute to the creation of an economy consistent with Jesus’ “fullness of life” which excludes no one from this fullness. TE does not just form businessmen and engineers for self enrichment through commerce and technology, but trains them to create wealth that shall be equitably distributed as the common good demands. TE does not just train future lawyers and judges, but sensitizes them to the demands of justice, especially of social justice as demanded by the common good. TE forms peacemakers not to bring about conditions of a graveyard but of a society that functions in peace because social justice shall have been achieved.

4.  Transformation of agents of transformation

If after discernment TE targets the transformation of errant individual, illegal institutions, inequitable local communities, and the like, the agents of transformation are themselves changed.

4.1 Transformation of individuals

Students who encounter the poverty of squatters communities, researchers who gain deeper insight into the depth of social injustice, teachers who encounter the struggles of indigenous peoples, even school-based demonstrators who encounter the brutality of the police and the partiality of the justice system, do not walk away from this unchanged. They learn to connect the seeming innocence of loving gold and gadgets to the displacement of whole indigenous tribes for the sake of the mines; they connect the manicured estates of the wealthy with the squalor of the urban poor; they connect the cheapness of what they buy with the subsistence wages of the laboring poor; they connect the use of their cars and air conditioners with the climate change that is now ravishing the world.

Those involved in TE education are transformed by it. Some overburdened by the hugeness of its challenge, may opt out of it in a kind of hopeless cynicism, sneering at the idealism of the school leaders. Others may commit themselves to it as a professional offshoot of their disciplines, without reference to a religious dimension. Yet others may commit themselves to it due to a deep personal appropriation of the challenge Jesus gives us towards the fullness of life.

It is an important part of TE to attend to the spirituality of individuals engaged in it. Spirituality must be help its individual agents cope with success, failure, enthusiasm, discouragement, high personal energy, burn-out, consolation and desolation.

4.2. Transformation of institutions

TE does not just transform the individual agents of transformation; it transforms the schools themselves.

It transforms a school from simply delivering academic content as prescribed by DepED or CHED, to a school that integrates its academic program into the school’s transformative educational thrust.   Academic activity is not only to contribute to the students’ accumulation of learning, as through a banking theory of education, but to contribute to his or her lifelong competent commitment to the common good, no matter the liberal or professional discipline chosen. The school is therefore transformed from a neutral center of abstract instruction, to a powerful mediator of instruction, research and activities in service to the community where the individual students are engaged in the school’s thrust towards social and cultural transformation towards the “fullness of life.”

4.2.1 Prophetic schools

In this context, the school takes on a prophetic role. In searching for truth, it states the truth. It stating the truth “in season and out of season,” it contributes to the transformation of darkness into light, the transformation of an unjust and inhumane society into one of social justice and human fullness, human truth. This prophetic role is exercised from the center of the school, not from its periphery where outreach is outsourced.   It is exercised from the classroom, study, research, outreach, administrative and prayer activities that flow from the vision and mission of the school, its heart and its soul.   TE is therefore not just a curious peripheral dimension added to the school, but flows from its cor, its heart, resonating with the heart of the Church, Ex Corde Ecclesia. TE belongs not to this or that part of the school but to the whole school.

When the school in TE appropriates the prophetic role of the Church in obedience to Jesus Christ, it is the Spirit which empowers it in prophetic engagement.

As was the fate of prophets, and the fate of Jesus, those schools that take on the prophetic role must expect opposition, punishment and persecution. Schools that have taken this TE to heart must deal with the misunderstanding of parents, the anger of benefactors, the criticism of the powers that be. Journeying with Jesus, they must accept the cross. “If anyone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me” (Luke 9:23).

4.2.2. Ongoing redefinition of vision and mission

School activities flow from their Vision-Mission statements. They are not empty statements posted on a wall for accreditors and forgotten. They are the spiritual soul of the school.

While Vision statements tend to express the perennial identity of the school, the Mission statements express how the school intends to impact its environment in the foreseeable future. With the development of the school, its increasing insight, knowledge and savvy, and the changing environment also affected by the school’s TE activities, the mission statements necessarily change. In this manner, TE also changes its institutional agents.

Recently, Abp. Socrates Villegas, President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, suggested that among the urgent mission of our Catholic Higher Education institutions today are: human meaning or loss of it in society today (the Faith); the common good; cultural transformation; dialogue for peace; and environmental protection.   Other important issues are renewable energy, educational reform and health care.

4.2.3 Ongoing multi-disciplinal conversations

As mentioned above, Catholic Higher Education in the Philippines should take on the challenge of an ongoing and serious multi-disciplinal conversation on the requirements of the common good that would be university wide, but open to the public, and especially to alumni/ae. This would contribute to the problem of many alumni/ae who feel themselves abandoned by their schools, their teachers and formators, once they have left the university for transformative activity in the “real world.”

4.2.4. Appropriate Spirituality of Transformative Education

TE is not sustainable by a spirituality that is centered only on a salary. Marx would have called this alienated labor. No salary can appropriately compensate teachers and students for authentically participating in TE. Teaching students well and taming their freedom are invaluable. In the transformative engagement of TE, the risks to life and limb are too great. The Catholic higher education institution must support the spiritual growth of the members of their community. They must invite them ultimately to a deeper following of the Lord who came “to bring life and to bring it to the full” (Jn 10:10. cf. 4.1 above). Ultimately, they must be able to weather the joys and travails of leadership and long-term service in Christian discipleship.

Sources, of course, for Christian spiritual formation for TE are the Sacred Scripture, the Social Teaching of the Church, such papal writings as Ex Corde Ecclesiae and Evangelii Gaudium, and various other documents available to group of educators from the religious traditions like the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola.

5.  Transformative action from schools

Transformative activity must benefit from the relatively-high educational attainment of the members of the school community. It is therefore different from the activity that might come out of an NGO because of the multi-disciplinary nature of the participants (political theorists, anthropologists, theologians, language experts), and their varying social tiers (students, teachers, laborers, and administrators). This does not mean that the wide-ranged school’s output is necessarily better than the focused output of NGOs. It is different. Schools are not NGOs. On the other hand, because of the respect schools have in society based on their communities of humanistic and disciplinal experts, their potential for effecting genuine transformation is relatively high.

6.  Not isolated but networked

Finally, the transformative action of TE must be not only individual, but institutional, not isolated by networked for potential engagement. This is why our schools network with each other in such as the CEAP, and why our regional schools network with the National Advocacy Council and ultimate with the National Execom and the Board. It is why CEAP networks with the Coordinating Council for Private Higher Educaton (CEAP) and the National Association of Bangsamoro Education, Inc. (NABEi). It is why we have our contacts in the in Congress and Malacañan., and in the media.

I hope that I have been able to contribute to your understanding of Transformative Education (TE) in the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP). Through our shared practice of TE in the Philippines, may our schools help transform ourselves, our institutions and our cultures into a society on this earth that is more reflective of the fullness of life our Lord came to bring.

 

 

[1] Cf. Mission Statement of the Religious of the Virgin Mary (RVM)

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About Joel Tabora, S.J.

Jesuit. Educator
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