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We are hard pressed on every side, but never consumed (2 Cor 4:8)

The Covid-19 and national lockdown has forced the closure of schools, colleges and universities for 120+ days with a rare chance of reopening before September 2020. Economy and education are bidirectionally related. As the Indian economy is affected by pandemic lockdown, Indian education system has major setbacks. It throws unprecedented challenges to the educational leaders, managers and administrators.

Will our institutions, struggling with pandemic and financial crunch fall further behind or leap forward with new paradigms? There is a silver lining to the pandemic to focus on radical reforms, redefining conventional education models. It is opined that even if Covid vaccine is developed in a few months, pedagogies, academic processes and education objectives will change forever.

CBCI Office for Education and Culture organizes this conference together with DBHEI (Don Bosco Higher Education India Network) to bring Catholic education leaders on a digital platform, to probe deeper at the challenges and have online consultation on Catholic Education in COVID and beyond: Challenges and Possibilities.

The Conference focuses on five themes.

• Digital Transformation
• Student Empowerment
• Teacher Engagement
• Governance and Management
• Apostolic Metanoia

Starting from Friday, 17th of July, from 11.30 am to 01.00 pm, this series will be held on each of the topics on subsequent Fridays. Information is being sent to all the Bishops, Regional Secretaries, Diocesan Secretaries and related networks. High profile resource persons will guide the sessions and there will be time for open discussion as well. Reports of each of this consultation will be shared with all the Bishops. Registration link will be sent by 13th July 2020.
Each theme has two speakers to highlight the challenges and present possibilities to experiment and strategize. Participants can clarify the expounded concepts and contribute with their outlooks and case works.

Theme 1: Digital Transformation

Teachers and students are becoming digital savvy with online learning. The transition from brick-and-mortar classroom to blended learning model is realized quickly in affordable institutions. And yet, for most of the institutions, the major challenges are low internet bandwidth, lack of access to digital devices and untrained teachers.

The families of many a children do not have access to digital devices and high-speed internet connectivity. Will it widen the digital divide? Are there ICT integration possibilities for all groups of students, low- or high-income level and offer inclusive education?

The mental strain that teachers and students suffer due to excessive screen time and the struggle of parents to supervise home learning are also to be addressed.

Points for Reflection

1. What is your experience of digital education in your school? Is it positive?
2. How has the digital education/digital divide affected your school?
3. Are there ways in which we can democratize digital education?
4. Are there ICT integration possibilities for all groups of students, low- or high-income level and offer inclusive education?

Theme 2: Student Empowerment

The general poor learning outcome of millions of Indian children and youth needs a radical reform in pedagogy and delivery. Many children (nearly 56% as per ASER Report 2018) in primary schools do not attain basic skills in literacy and numeracy.

New forms of pedagogy with appropriate adoption of technology is an opportunity for change. Catering to diversity of students is a possibility with blended personalized learning. If Covid-19 is to stay, students must adopt themselves to online style of learning and be provided with the necessary equipment to have nonstop learning.

With social, technical, biological and political disruptions around, students need to be accompanied to understand their goals in life and attain true happiness. Many children from marginalized families may drop out of schools. Thousands may enter the child labor force and become vulnerable to trafficking and/or pushed into early marriage.

Twenty-first century skills (learning, literacy and life) must be universalized by incorporating into any course offered in a school or college. More of these skills to be imparted using virtual
learning environment than in traditional classrooms. eLearning must extend to co-curricular education such as dance, music, arts and crafts, yoga, physical fitness and sports. For instance, senior students can engage safely in local communities to handle pandemic and their real experiences in society can be guided and directed.

Points for Reflection

1. Is there a possibility of a new form of pedagogy with the adoption of technology?
2. How can students in our care be continued to be accompanied during and post COVID
3. How can life skills be imparted using virtual learning environment than academics?
4. Have you evaluated your online education to see if values and competencies are delivered to the students?

Theme 3: Teacher Engagement

Getting the teachers accustomed to the new normal of online teaching is a major challenge. Teachers need to apply creative and innovative methods in migrating to online platform. Adoption to digital technologies, using seamlessly the e-learning resources provided by the government and handling the diversity of students require upskilling of teachers.

Teachers must also interact with the parents to enable their children to participate in blended learning from the conventional system.

Teachers need accompaniment too. Adapting to a new way of teaching and accompanying students has put a lot of stress on teachers. Besides knowledge in academics, the teachers need to learn new dynamics to cope with attention-deficiency, mental health of children and creative ways of assessing children’s learning capacity. Teachers need training in accompanying children virtually. Teachers need a new set of pedagogy to cope with teaching children whom they do not interact with face to face. What would be the basics of new pedagogy?

Points for Reflection

1. How has the school empowered the teachers to accompany the students, by way of knowledge and skills?
2. Have the teachers been left on their own to find the technology as well as other resources to continue with online education or has the school provided them with?
3. How have your teachers adopted digital technology? Do you have any courses
planned for them to be more productive and innovative?
4. Will there be emergence of digital educators and what type of pedagogy will they have to adopt?
Theme 4: Governance and Management
Covid-19 has provoked the dire need for digital infrastructure, teacher capacity and curriculum revamp towards holistic formation. It may not be a reality for our institutions for the disadvantaged and in rural areas. It is attainable with competent and visionary leadership. Better perspective and strategic planning are needed at the national, diocesan/provincial or institution level.

Catholic Community is blessed with a great pool of committed and passionate faithful. We need progressive and innovative leadership. It demands deep training, clear policies and procedures and well-remunerated faculty.

The Indian private school system has a serious risk of extinction with fund crisis. Fee waivers/deferment directives given by the government widen the risk. Financial management and fundraising need a revamp.

We need leadership development programs to improve our administrative practices, fund management, fund raising, building R&D culture and change management. For instance, many alumni are ready and willing to contribute donations to develop their alma mater.

Points for Reflection

1. What type of leadership is needed to cope with COVID and beyond COVID Education?
2. Will our Private schools survive the financial crisis and what plans have you made to avert major crunch of funds?
3. Is there credible management system in your school and what innovative systems have you created in the recent past to build up a resilient institution?
4. Is your institution community-centered? Have you received support from the community by way of financial support and otherwise?

Theme 5: Apostolic Metanoia

With introspection in every walk of life at this juncture, the Indian Catholic Church shall reexamine her identity as ambassadors of His Kingdom and disciples of Jesus Christ. The Church is for the poor and for the people of God. How do we respond to the cry of the incomeless teachers, aimless students and hopeless parents?

The Covid-19 should serve as a period of purification – metanoia. Our education institutions must come out of the pandemic, converted and revitalized with new paradigms, praxis and results. The renewed Church will accompany the downtrodden children and young, affirm the competency and contribution of the teachers, account management and administration with transparency and accredit our purpose of existence with the vision of Our Lord to become true instruments of salvation for all people.

Points for Reflection

1. How do we respond to the cry of the incomeless teachers, aimless students, and hopeless parents?
2. Do you believe your institution needs conversion? What are those aspects which you would like to correct and move forward?
3. What are those new paradigms and praxis you would envisage for your institution?
4. Can we transform our processes of accompaniment, affirmation, accountability and accreditation of our education institutions and the entire educative community?

Fr/Dr. Maria Charles SDB
National Secretary Executive Secretary
CBCI Office for Education and Culture

Fr/Dr. Thaddeus Gregory SDB
Don Bosco Higher Education Network

National seminar on the development of Indian constitution and the contemporary challenges to the modern India

A Two days National seminar on the development of Indian constitution and the contemporary challenges to the modern India

Date: 5th & 6th March 2019
Organized by Department Of Social Work Don Bosco College – Panaji

Objectives :

To disseminate information to the participants on various aspects of Indian Constitution and the fundamental rights of its citizens.

To update the knowledge on the recent amendments made to the Indian Constitution and how it has posed contemporary challenges to modern India.

Day 1 – 5th March 2019

The chief guest Mr Rupesh Kumar Thakur (IAS ) Secretary to Governor, Goa said that freedom of India is not a gift. Separate electorate led to the partition of India.

It took 27 years 11 months and 18days to write the constitution of India and in 1950 the final draft of the constitution of India was written by Dr Ambedkar. The challenges of modern India are money power and muscle power. Mr.Thakur said that nurturing secularism helps to get rid of intolerance and Linguistic pluralism has to be nurtured. He ends this address by saying that it is the people of a country who make the constitution work.

Session 1:

 Amendments to Indian constitution and various challenges to modern India by Mr Balaji Shenoy (Archivist, Directorate of Archivist and   Archaeology, Government of Goa.)
He elaborated on the politics of defections in the backdrop of upcoming elections in India. Citing some examples from history he elaborately expressed his views on the topic.

Session 2:

 Constitutional trends:  Freedom of religion by Adv. Cleofato Coutinho Almeida. Secularism is the basic structure of the Indian constitution.
He also spoke of the state intervene in the interstate freedom of religion. Superstition and religion don’t go together. Personal law are with the consent of the sovereign and subject to fundamental right.  He ended by saying that freedom of religion is more of a progressive and liberal area. Laws should be rationalize.

Session 3:

 Constitutional and women reservation in local self-government by Ms.Seema Fernandes (Asst Director GIPARD – Goa Institute of Public Administration and rural development)Panachayati Raj system, a 3 tier system was introduced in the 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act. Panchayats are institution for women empowerment, social security and Justice. There are 13.72 lac elected women reprenstation across the country. In Goa we have a 2 tier system since we have a smaller population. 39.2 percent Women Elected Representation in Goa. Significance of the act has allowed women to enter politics, participate in public spaces, public activities and human development. It’s helps to strength the governance and improves delivery services in the village panchayat.

Awareness of different committees for support for the village development. Initiatives by women sarpanchas : economic development, health and nutrition and livelihood initiatives: not to issue licence to new bars, segregation of waste , horticulture, organic farming courses  for women empowerment, public transport, IT support and health and sanitation . however women face a lot of challenges namely  knowledge gaps, lack of confidence, domination of male counterpart and change in mind sets, weak decision making, political support, domestic responsibility, prevailing cultural attitude of the role of women, rotation post, information, trust and interest deficit.

Session 4:

 Fundamental rights and modern day challenges by Fr Maverick Fernandes (Director,Caritas Goa)
The purpose of the Fundamental Right is to establish the rule of law. It gives us legal rights. Fundamental rights are justifiable and enforced to protect the dignity of an individual. Articles 24 enclose those Rights. Fundamental Right aims to restore the individual or collective interest. Fundamental Rights however also have challenges such as lack of information on Fundamental Right, adjustments make us compliance to the wrong,  no critical thinking and evaluation of choosing our representatives, decriminalization on the basis of religion, privatization in the government and citizens not casting their vote and even using NOTA.

Session 5:

 Constitution and gender equality by Adv. Albertina Almeida
Constitution is a great social document; it transfers a medieval approach to a modern approach. International law allows incorporating the constitution. The constitution ensures rights to the 3rd gender or transgender- article 14, 15, 16. Substantial equality is better benefited provision to those needed only. Special law for women like extortion like for dowry. Gender is not only Social construct but a social condition. She ended by the quote” I am what I am so take me what I am”.
Day 2 – 6th March 2019

Session 6:

 Constitution and the Independence of judiciary by Dr Saba V M Da Silva (Principal Kare College of Law) spoke about from political state to welfare state. Securing Independence of the judiciary. The Supreme Court judges are appointed by the president in order to strengthen the walls of the fortress of judiciary the recommendations of Sapru committee. The Supreme Court is the highest court. Under article 32 it exercises original jurisdiction for the enforcement of fundamental rights. Steps taken to ensure Independence of judiciary: separation of judiciary from executive, higher qualified and salary and legislature and appointment of judge by the president. Image of the judiciary: the appointment of the judges by the president is purely formal because in this matter he acts on the advice of the council of Minister. The transfer of judges of higher judiciary from high court to another also could affect the Independence and functioning in the judiciary. The collegium system: appoints judges to the nation’s constitutional courts. He concluded by saying there are many ill in the judiciary yet the judiciary remains to be the organ of the state as the most supreme.

Session 7:

 Ideology and principles underlying the Indian constitution by Adv Prabhakar Timble (former state election commission of Goa). Our constitution is a product of our history .i.e. social and economic inequality, system of birth determines your status, no women identity status, and illiteracy and caste system. The history of the British Raj gave us a system of governance. Constitution had institutionalized the political, social economic ideology.

Session 8 :

 Constitution and democracy: some underlying challenges by Rahul Tripathi (HOD Department of political science, Goa University) Challenges of a democracy are to  conduct a fair and free elections i.e. electoral democracy. There are different Institutions to safe guard our rights. Notion of participation of the citizens in a constitution. And  Implementation of and enforcement of the constitution.

Session 9:

 The new facets of the freedom of speech and the right to life by Adv Shahrukh Alam. In her thought-provoking speech she touched upon issues on Hate and Seditious speech. She stated that article 14 does not safeguard such speeches as it can be only applied between communities and not individuals of the same community.

Session 10:

 Directive principles of state policy and socio economic rights by Adv. Radharao. F. Gracias. It’s the duty of the state to keep equality of wealth. He pointed out the existing superstitions in the country and how there is a need of scientific outlook to be developed among the citizens of India.

The seminar was concluded with the closing remarks by Provincial Fr Felix Fernandes followed by the vote of thanks by Ryan Fernandes. The certificates of participation were presented to the delegates and the teachers from different institutions of Goa and India. The speakers of the two day seminar were honoured with a memento, the preamble of the Indian Constitution. The seminar registered active participation of around 50 teaching staff who came from various colleges and institutes of India.