Filipino students walk out of their classes to dramatize their call for quality education and respect for human rights. A leading Catholic bishop has urged Catholic schools to integrate peace and human rights education in church-run schools. (Photo by Eli Sepe)
A leading bishop has urged Catholic schools in the Philippines to integrate the "culture of just peace" in the curriculum of church-run colleges and universities.
Archbishop Antonio Ledesma of Cagayan de Oro told Catholic educators that the inclusion of peace education would bring "peace with social justice."
In a speech at the convention of the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines, the prelate said Catholic schools should inculcate in the minds of young people the importance of peace.
"[Peace education] will result in intercultural understanding and the cessation of hostilities, and also the care for the environment," said Archbishop Ledesma.
The prelate stressed that Catholic schools have an important role in the formation of students "to become individuals who care for the poor and the environment."
He said the process should start with "personal and family integrity" that will lead to "respect for human life."
Some 3,000 delegates from 1,500 Catholic schools nationwide gathered in Cebu City this week for their annual convention.
School administrators, meanwhile, said Catholic colleges and universities are facing hard times because of the government's implementation of the "K-12" education program.
Under the program, which started last year, two years were added to senior high school that used to only go through Grade 10.
While the program has been lauded for improving educational opportunities, Catholic schools that offer only tertiary education are expected to be on the losing end.
The losses are due to the absence of first-year college enrollees this year and in the coming school year. When the first set of graduates of the "K-12" program will enroll in college in 2019, the universities will have no enrollees in the third and fourth years.
Brother Narciso Erguiza, president of the Catholic educators' association, said Catholic schools are expected to feel the effects of the transition process.
The educators said Catholic colleges and universities are expected to lose up to US$3 billion in the next eight years due to the implementation of the new basic education program.
Joseph Noel Estrada, counsel of the Catholic schools, said that while they are supportive of the program, the government has not provided assistance to help the affected schools.