Indonesian Catholic schools put themselves to survival test

Falling attendances, standards and a failure to address modern issues have prompted a major rethink by educators
Indonesian Catholic schools put themselves to survival test

 More than 800 priests, nuns and laypeople attend a conference on how to revive the fortunes of Catholic schools in Yogyakarta, Indonesia on Jan. 10-12. (Photo supplied)

Three high schools owned by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate in Cilacap, West Java, have been forced to close over the last decade, leaving only one surviving, along with a vocational school and some elementary and junior high schools which are now struggling.

Sugito, a teacher working for the foundation said a shortage of students made it difficult for the three schools to survive.

"This is the impact of the development of other schools, especially public ones that offer free education,” he told UCA News.

He added that growth in religious fanaticism and intolerance in the province in recent years was another reason.

"There are symptoms of exclusivism here, including in education,” he said.

“Mosques are used by certain groups to spread provocative messages such as not to join non-Islamic schools. So many have chosen to leave us in recent years,” said Sugito, adding that 98 percent of students at their schools were Muslim.

Similar problems are also faced by schools belonging to the Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George, whose schools are based in Java and Sumatra.

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