Thursday, 20 October 2016

Education and Clergy in Britain

One of the things of the British system that I'm still to make sense is the education system.  Not exactly the style of teaching but the mode of administration.  Very many here are highly appreciative of the Salesian school. Great! But there is no Salesian on the staff, except for the Chaplain.  The Rector is also the Chairman of the board, I'm told.  The head teacher (headmaster, in Indian terms) is a lay person and so are the 13 other board members.

This is basically the structure of every school, I'm told - at least that's what I understood.  Worse still are the diocesan schools: there is no priest, leave alone on the board, on the staff not even in the vicinity!  So where are they? There are none - at least not available for working in the schools.

I attended the inaugural Mass of the St Xavier Educational Trust of Catholic schools, a new initiative undertaken here, this evening.  There are nine Catholic schools which have willingly come forward to be part of this venture whereby they wish to collaborate and strengthen one another in the education process, especially on the common ground of offering Catholic values and principles.  So there were the board directors of each of these schools, the head teachers, the governors and some teachers as well, I was told.  And of these how many were priests or religious? Just two!!  Only the director of our Salesian school was a priest. The other priest was a guest invited to join this newly formed trust.  All the others, namely head teachers and directors were all lay people!!  Take that ratio of priests and lay persons in the decision making animation body: 1 in 18!

On the one hand I'm quite surprised. On the other, highly pleased and eager to see this replicated back in India!  Surprised that the number is so low.  Highly pleased because priests and religious stay out of the administration circles and more than delighted that only capable and qualified persons are in positions to call the shots in the school.  So what if they are lay persons. A far far better option than some priest who can barely speak one sentence in properly. And what's his qualification to occupy that post: ordination!!

No wonder then that young people, and I mean high school children, are very clear about what they want to become in life.  They see these qualified and competent individuals throwing open the doors of knowledge and values to them.  They opt for possibilities, inspired by those who make this possible.  Naturally if priests and religious are not in this group then, vocations to that life are not growing to fall out of the sky.  However gloomy a forecast that might be, personally it is a better option than young people wanting to become priests or religious merely to exercise power and hold position without going through the grind of earning, to be truly worthy of it.

More to come...

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