Parents and educators share what they believe are the strengths of Catholic education in this feature to mark Catholic Education Sunday, celebrated on the weekend of Sept 8-9.



Christopher Khoo

Though both Mrs Maggie Lee Dabbs and her husband were not Catholics when their son was due for school enrolment, they decided to put him into St Joseph’s Institution Junior in 2003.

“The choice of SJI was a decision we made as we wanted our son to grow up with values that both my husband and I believe in,” Mrs Dabbs told Catholic News. The couple felt that the Catholic school would reinforce what they taught him at home, “which is the respect for humanity and … a belief in the intrinsic value of life”.

“And we were not disappointed as his experience in Catholic schools have enabled him to grow up with these values,” said Mrs Dabbs. Her son, Spenser, later entered St Patrick’s School.

The experience of the Dabbs echo what many parents say about the positive impact that Catholic schooling have had on their children.

Gilbert and Aileen Tan and their family. Their sons (from left) Shawn, Samuel and Stephen are all in Catholic schools.

In fact, many parents would attest to the merits in Catholic education such as faith foundation, character formation, moral values and building relationships in a multi-cultural society.

“A Catholic school provides many opportunities for my children to encounter God, such as at daily prayers, religious education and sharing of Christocentric school values,” said Ms Aileen Seah, whose two daughters aged 10 and 12 are in Canossa Convent Primary School (CCPS).

“I also appreciate the loving and inclusive environment in CCPS which helps my children to learn to embrace diversity in others, as well as the emphasis on strength of character, a readiness to forgive and love for our Lord as embodied by the school’s patron saints,” added Ms Seah.

Alex and Valerie Chan, who have two daughters aged 12 and 15 in CHIJ Kellock and CHIJ St Theresa’s Convent respectively, felt that a Catholic education further builds on the faith taught in the family.

“While faith starts at home, sending our children to a Catholic school also reinforces their faith foundation, so that they are raised as morally responsible individuals and will contribute back to society,” they told Catholic News in an email interview.


Fr Edward Seah: "When most of the drilling of facts and figures for examinations are forgotten, the life and ethos of the schools will remain in the minds and hearts of those who pass through the doors of the Catholic Schools."

Mr Sean La’Brooy, who has three children in Catholic schools, is happy that this allows his children to put their faith into practice.

His son, Emmanuel, 13, is a member of the St Vincent de Paul Society in St Patrick’s School, while his daughter, Therese, 9, was given an opportunity to be a prayer monitor in CHIJ Primary (Toa Payoh).

“Through these opportunities, both Emmanuel and Therese ... have come to appreciate the value of service to others,” he said.

Regular praise and worship sessions, rosary devotions and weekly Masses are among the many things that Mr Gilbert Tan appreciates in the schools he has sent this three sons to, namely SJI Junior and SJI Secondary.

“The schools also organise exam Masses for the children where parents are also invited to pray with them as one big community,” said Mr Tan.

“Another good thing is the presence of the prayer room or chapel in the school which allow the children to have a place to seek solace and comfort when they are down.”


Alex and Valerie Chan’s two daughters Isabelle (left) and Kathleen are both in CHIJ schools.

Father Edward Seah, Executive Director (Ad Interim) of the Archdiocesan Commission for Catholic Schools (ACCS) believes that what is attractive about Catholic schools is the “culture that supports meaningful relationships among all partners: students, teachers, non-teaching staff, parents and former students”.

This includes shared stories, experiences, learnings, history, values, aspirations and faith, said Fr Edward.

“When most of the drilling of facts and figures for examinations are forgotten, the life and ethos of the schools will remain in the minds and hearts of those who pass through the doors of the Catholic schools.”

He added that school leaders have made efforts to come together to provide the encouragement and support among themselves for a better future. “We are also working in communion with some Archdiocesan offices for the same reason,” said Fr Edward.

ACCS works with Catholic schools to strengthen the Catholic ethos in their communities, and support the religious, civics and moral education these schools provide.

Other Catholic educators stress the importance of the Catholic community working together to build up the faith of young people.

“There needs to be a very strong linkage between Church, family, school and community,” said Mr Wilbur Wong, principal of Montfort Junior School. “It is not good enough for our children to just be exposed to their faith on weekends when they attend Mass or catechism class, or even when they have their daily prayer sessions as a family.”

Through the religious activities in schools, students “will also learn to contribute back to the community and be witnesses of Christ,” he said.

Mrs Pauline Wong, principal of CHIJ St Theresa’s Convent, agrees. “When parents and schools work together, they stand a better chance of forming children to be the unique individuals that God has created them to be,” she said.
Catholic teachers note that they have a challenging role.


Mrs Pauling Wong (CHIJ St Theresa's Convent principal): "When parents and schools work together, they stand a better chance of forming children to be the unique individuals that God has created them to be." 

Mrs Audrey Chong, a teacher at Maris Stella High (Secondary), said that in an increasingly secular world, the challenge is not only speaking about God to non-believers in Catholic schools, “but even making this God real” to Catholic students.

“We still need to pray constantly to be discerning in our role as educators and especially as Catholic educators,” she shared.

Mr Ernest Leong, a teacher at CHIJ Secondary (Toa Payoh), feels that Catholic educators need to be living examples of their faith just like the missionaries who set up their schools. With the dwindling number of Religious in schools these days, “we must perpetuate the legacy they began and left to us to continue,” he said.

The Archdiocese launched Catholic Education Sunday last year to enhance the thrust of Catholic education in our schools.

The celebration this year will see students from Catholic schools serving at Masses in parishes on Sept 8 and 9 in their uniforms. They will serve as lectors, hospitality ministers and also sing with the choirs.
A two-minute video on Catholic education in Singapore will also be screened. 

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Online resources


You can now get updates about events and activities happening in Catholic schools on Instagram and Facebook. Since late June, school events as well as workshops and activities organised by the Archdiocesan Commission for Catholic schools have been posted on both social media platforms (see http://schools.catholic.sg).

Information of interest and concern to Catholic parents are highlighted for timely access. For example, relevant information on Catholic schools was posted during the period of the Ministry of Education’s Primary One Registration Exercise.

Catholic educators can also now look forward to a monthly e-newsletter entitled This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. The Council of Catholic Schools’ Principals says they hope to stay connected with educators in the Catholic fraternity by sharing faith stories and tips for strengthening the Catholic ethos of our schools. 



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