‘Humanistic and Critical’ - were the defining terms of Jesuit education. In its early stages, Jesuit education was known for its humanistic perspective and critical consciousness. It meant on the one hand to care for the integral growth of the person of the learner and on the other to analyze a given ‘text’ to expand the horizons of the reader. It simply flowed from the Principle and Foundation of the Spiritual Exercises. Who am I and where am I heading to? This resulted in ‘Ratio Studiorum’ giving shape to a pedagogy of teaching and learning that would enable the learner to be a pilgrim in the true sense.
Our engagement in education, especially in school-education, is meant to bring this humanist-critical perspective in our students. However, much of our energy in school-education in South Asian Assistancy is spent on maintaining the institution, its name and fame, and the career of the students, rather than capacitating our students in ‘humanistic-critical perspectives’. Our schools and the Jesuits involved in schools are meant to serve as ‘public space’ in the given region, for fostering humanistic concerns and critical awareness. Today however, we are perceived at best as the managers of a system that often sucks us into it or depletes all our energies or even works with cross purposes. Is it possible to make a shift in favour of our original intent?
We need to move and move faster. Can we identify Jesuit schools across South Asian Assistancy that primarily cater for the poor and the marginalised and give them a common identity and logo and bring them under a pedagogy that is devised for them? Can we devise A South Asian Alternative to the successful model of “Fe Alegria” and evolve a new pedagogy of education meant for poor students in these schools? Can we pool our resources in order to capacitate teachers of these schools with better salary, skills and greater motivation?
Our young Jesuits look for ‘more’, than just becoming mangers of a system that is built on competition and money power. We can evolve an alternate way for the poor schools, net-working at the national and inter-national level. Can we deploy our men and resources in evolving a new way of educating the poor/marginalized children, a new way of capacitating those teachers of the poor schools and a new way of forming a solidarity across the Assistancy and the Conferences? Let us Jesuits stand apart and think beyond boxes to give shape to a new way of educating the poor and to build a new global solidarity of schools for the poor. We can build a Jesuit Net-Work across the six Conferences.
Education is by far the best tool for human progress, solidarity and enlightenment. It is a transformative device that needs to be employed with a sense of awe and wonder.
Provincial of South Asia