by Joanna Moorhead
THE church's social teaching and education for justice and peace generally can no longer be seen as merely an optional component in a school • curriculum, the president of the Association of Religious in Education said at the organisation's general conference this week.
Sr Josephine Egan told an audience at More House in London that the church's social teaching "cannot any longer be an optional module in a . religious studies or theology programme. Education for justice is a constitutive part of faith development and of the moral and social responsibility of every Christian."
St Josephine said that a recent survey carried out among secondary school pupils had showed how supportive young people were of involvement in work for underdeveloped countries and underprivileged groups everywhere. "Yet over half of those surveyed had no experience of involvement in projects designed to help third world countries, and over half had no opportunity provided for them to be personally involved with justice and peace issues in contemporary society," she continued.
Vatican II recommended reading the signs of the times, said Sr Josephine. Doing that meant a realisation that education for justice was "probably the most urgent and, at the same time, the most challenging aspect of our teaching ministry."
"Education for justice should be a whole school policy, central to the curriculum and visible in the very school structures," said Sr Josephine. It should not be confined to fund-raising for charities, but ought to extend into an awareness of how school resources were used, whether pupils were each allotted a fair share of resources and so on.
Schools should examine whether emphasis on good examination results meant an undue proportion of school resources were targeted towards this objective, and whether cooperation. rather than competition was the prevailing ethos. "Our ministry whether at school, parish, diocesan or national level must be directed towards creating a new world order and a society which has a truly human face where the dignity of each individual is extolled and human rights promoted within this new world order," she said.
*PARENTS at an independent convent preparatory school in London said this week they were on the verge of securing the purchase of the school to enable them to continue it after the nuns pull out.
St Mary's Convent in Hampstead, which is currently run by nuns of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is faced with closure next year unless a parents' consortium can come up with the £1 million the nuns say they must recover from the sale of the building if their future is to be assured. They say the true market value would be far in excess of El million.