The education secretaries within the Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific (JCAP) met from May 30 to June 2 in Siem Reap, Cambodia to discuss, among many things, possible projects for collaboration. Guiding the discussion around how members of the Asia Pacific network of Jesuit schools can assist and support each other’s projects was the new JCAP Coordinator for Basic and Secondary Education, Fr Johnny Go SJ, who took over the role from Fr Christopher Gleeson SJ recently.
Networking was also a point JCAP President Fr Mark Raper SJ made to the group. He gave the example of the positive impact of networking not just on the education project in Timor-Leste but also on the country. Fr Raper also stressed the need to go to the frontiers (Pope Benedict, GC35) and peripheries (Pope Francis), and to promote the story of JCAP (fire that kindles other fires).
Many ideas emerged from the discussion, top of which were Ignatian staff formation, teacher exchange programme and alumni formation. While the latter two are new, Ignatian staff formation was made a priority at last year’s meeting in Macau. This year’s meeting gave flesh to the idea. Ignatian staff formation was conceived as a one or two-week programme with modules designed for different stakeholders (teachers, administrators, and board members). As a means of organising the different modules and courses, and to help in identifying the different target audiences, a framework of five areas for training was proposed, namely Ignatian Mission and Identity in Education, Ignatian Spirituality in Education, Ignatian Leadership in Education, Ignatian Learning and Formation, and Ignatian Service for Justice. These correspond with the “5 Domains” identified in the US Jesuit document, “Our Way of Proceeding”.
The meeting was also an opportunity to be updated on the state of the apostolates in the eight provinces and regions represented. Jennie Hickey of the Australian Province spoke of the need for a more effective governance system given diminishing Jesuit manpower in their schools. Fr Lee Sung-il SJ shared that in Japan, the diminishment in Jesuit leadership was addressed by moving to one governing board for Sophia University and all four high schools, but this is not easily understood by the public.
The value of regional cooperation was highlighted with a concrete example by Fr Ashley Evans SJ of the Jesuit Mission in Cambodia. He told the group how the master plan for Xavier Jesuit School was improved with help from Fr Quyen Vu SJ and contacts from Timor-Leste.
Fr Rich McAuliff SJ from Micronesia said that three presidents of Micronesia are alumni of Xavier High School and this shows the influence and network of the school. He also shared that there are plans to slowly phase out the Jesuits in vicariate schools that were set up without much discernment.
A change in mindset was what resulted in the Malaysia-Singapore Region beginning an education apostolate. According to Fr Adrian Danker SJ, the Regional Superior Fr Colin Tan SJ pushed for education to be recognised as a key apostolate for the Region and now the Region is sending its men to study education.
The Indonesian Province is producing a four-volume guide for Indonesian Jesuit schools. Fr Baskoro Poedjinoegroho SJ said the guide, which contains alumni profile, staff formation, curriculum and school management, is now being edited.
All schools in the Chinese Province now have lay principals, including the first female principal in Colegio Mateus Ricci, Macau. Fr Stephen Chow SJ reported that there is a strong team spirit among the principals, but there is a need to arrest the dropping enrolment in Macau and Taiwan.
Finally Fr Bert Boholst SJ shared that one of the challenges for the Jesuits in Timor-Leste is the financial sustainability of the school given its current reliance on subsidies.
Source: JCAP News