NOVEMBER 20, 2011, Vol 61, No 23

Generations of boys at St Joseph's Institution have gained from attending a Christian Brothers school where values education permeates all aspects of school life, including co-curricular activities.

Education Minister Meng Swee Keat wants values and character development to be a priority for schools. They have always been so in Catholic schools. Professor Tan Cheng Han (left), the new chairman of the Archdiocesan Commission for Catholic Schools, reflects on how our schools have worked at fulfilling their social mission.

AS THE father of three school-going children, I am often struck by how much emphasis we parents place on how academically 'good' this or that school is. While I understand fully the importance of academic rigour, it sometimes strikes me that we over-emphasise this at the expense of other important dimensions.

After all, children are born with the innate abilities that God has seen fit to bestow on them. Unless we are grossly negligent in our care, our children will tend to find their level whatever school they attend, given that in general, schools in Singapore are of good quality.

Indeed, parents are in danger of doing a disservice to their children by stressing one aspect of developmental growth, academic education at the expense of other equally valid aspects.

A group of children waiting to be fed in the reception area of Helawen refugee camp in Dollo Ado, Ethiopia.

WHEN aid worker Phillip Cunningham stayed in a refugee tent recently, he found it extremely challenging.

Mr Cunningham, Regional Programmes Officer at Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) Eastern Africa, spent a week preparing for an education project in the refugee camps in Dollo Ado, Ethiopia, in October.

Most refugees in the desert-like Dollo Ado region have fled civil war and famine in Somalia, the worst-hit nation in the drought and hunger crisis engulfing countries in the Horn of Africa.

“The vast majority of refugees are living in tents issued by the UNHCR [the UN refugee agency]. We stayed in the same kinds of tents when we were there. The tents are roughly about 4 metres long by about one-and-a-half metres,” Mr Cunningham told CatholicNews in a phone interview.

Ms Wendy Louis and Mr Louis Oo from the Archdiocesan Commission for Catholic Schools giving Assoc Prof Syed Farid Alatas (right) a token of appreciation after his talk on Celebrating Diversity in Catholic Schools.

SINGAPORE – Move beyond tolerance to multiculturalism.

This was the message that a prominent proponent of interfaith dialogue had for educators from Catholic schools on Nov 4.

“Tolerance is minimum acceptance. We draw boundaries between each other and we respect that boundary,” Assoc Prof Syed Farid Alatas told those present. “But it does mean that we’re not going to make the effort to know and to understand beyond a certain limit.

A representative from A Call To Share (ACTS) presents Msgr Eugene Vaz with a blanket, one of four types of relief items to be sent to flood victims. Photo: RICHARD KOH

More than 500 people gathered at Novena Church recently for a special Mass to pray for the recovery and well-being of those affected by natural disasters.

Floods caused by typhoons and monsoons have killed many and affected the lives of millions of people in Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam and Cambodia.

Vicar General Msgr Eugene Vaz and Fr Angel Luciano, spiritual director of the Archdiocesan Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants & Itinerant People (ACMI), celebrated the Nov 8 evening Mass.