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Catholic Bishops in Ivory Coast Push for Policies That Guarantee “civic, moral education”

Members of the Episcopal Conference of the Ivory Coast (CECCI). Credit: CECCI/Facebook

Catholic Bishops in Ivory Coast have, in a collective statement, called on the government to put in place policies that takes into account “civic and moral education” in the West African nation.

In the statement issued Sunday, January 30, members of the Episcopal Conference of Ivory Coast (CECCI) say, “It is necessary that we develop educational policies that take into account real needs and aim at building a balanced social actor who, in the face of all situations, advances with determination.”

While welcoming the efforts already made by government to revamp the education sector in the West African nation, the Catholic Bishops invite the state “to go even further in the discussions of the General Education Forum for the establishment of a system that forms the integral man, capable of mastering his environment, in a spirit of creativity.”

“We encourage you to put in place a system that takes more into account civic and moral education,” CECCI members in their collective statement issued at the end of their 120th Plenary Assembly that took place in the Archdiocese of Gagnoa.

They add, “This well-structured system will help to build a new type of citizen, a youth educated to work hard, love work and job well done.”

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Catholic Bishops in Ivory Coast invite the government to “inculcate in young people a respect for the good of others and the common good, setting an example of seeking the interest of all and sacrificing.”

“It is up to you to rethink the educational model so that it is no longer reduced only to school or academic instruction.,” Catholic Bishops in Ivory Coast say.

They urge the government to do its utmost to “preserve the school and university environment from the kind of party politics that makes it a place of serious confrontations detrimental to quality education.”

“Our prayer is that an educational system be established in our country that produces competent actors, capable of taking up future challenges; an educational system that forms true leaders; a system capable of giving daring entrepreneurs, who know how to draw on the local culture to enter into dialogue with all nations,” CECCI members add.

The January 25 to 30 Plenary Assembly was held under the theme, “Catechesis and Education in Ivory Coast at the service of integral human development.”

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In their January 30 collective statement, Catholic Bishops in Ivory Coast also highlight a decline in moral education in families and society, which they say if not addressed, “risks becoming a disaster.”

“The observation that almost everyone can see is the powerlessness, even the resignation of families who leave the education of children in the hands of domestic staff,” they bemoan. 

CECCI members further note that the “practice of politics in our country is perceived as a place of verbal and physical violence, lies, denunciation, an environment where all kinds of fanaticism and extremism thrive.” 

Faced with such a situation, Catholic Bishops in Ivory Coast pose, “What model of education can young people, who are often instrumentalized by politics, draw from it?”  

Reflecting on the school environment, CECCI members say, “Ivorian schools no longer make people dream; the level of pupils and students keeps dropping.”

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“How can it be otherwise, when some schools are surrounded by bars and maquis distilling at full blast and all day long, music in vogue, in a deafening din, while classes take place nearby? What kind of education can be given in such an atmosphere where the presence of smoking rooms in the vicinity of certain schools seriously compromises the training of children and young people in true values?” Catholic Bishops pose.

Against this backdrop, Catholic Bishops in Ivory Coast say the Church has an important role to play in the education of members society.

Making reference to Vatican II’s Declaration on Christian Education, CECCI members say, “To her children, therefore, the Church is bound as Mother to provide the education which will inspire their whole life with the spirit of Christ, and at the same time she offers herself to work with all men for the promotion of the human person in his or her perfection, as well as for the good of earthly society and the building up of an ever more humane world.”

“The collaboration of the Church with all men to promote the human person determines our firm involvement in education. This involvement is reflected in the urgent appeals that we make, inviting us all to make education in Ivory Coast, an engine of integral human formation in the service of a solid and harmonious development of our country,” the Bishops say.

They call on parents to strive “to fulfill your mission as first educators in a climate of peace and affection.” 

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For this education to be successful, the Bishops call for a “permanent communication and dialogue between you parents, with your children, in a family setting where love reigns.”

They call on teachers to cultivate the “virtues and art of living in society, to cultivate courage, friendship, solidarity and mutual aid.”

The Catholic Bishops also appeal to religious leaders to “cooperate intelligently with the State and to do everything possible to keep the denominational schools as a model of ethics and morals.”

“Let us strive to educate our faithful to peace, in the respect of consciences, to preserve them from fanaticism and religious extremism, scourges which risk endangering the perception of religion and the traditional African tolerance.,’ CECCI members say.

They add. “Let us be enlightened guides of those entrusted to us, especially the most vulnerable. Let your life be consistent with the education we provide.” 

“May God, in his great goodness, help us to find meaning and value in our lives. May his Love lead us always to find new ways of educating people,” Catholic Bishops in Ivory Coast implore in their January 30 collective statement.