Catholic Church And School Education - Eastern Mirror
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Catholic Church and School Education

By EMN Updated: Sep 08, 2023 10:42 pm

Imparting Education is one of the foremost ministries of the Catholic Church in Nagaland. The Catholic Church has invested heavily both in terms of resources and personnel in the field of Education. The Catholic Church made her entry in the Naga Hills soon after the independence of India and especially during the turbulent years that preceded the Shillong Accord and consequent Statehood for Nagaland. Soon after setting her foot in the New State of Nagaland, the Catholic Church spread its wings to the far fledged and remote areas of the state with the Mission of Education and Health Care and to build up a holistic and progressive society. For the realisation of the Church’s vision and mission for equitable progress of all people irrespective of their faith, tribe or community, the Catholic Church established schools in all parts of the state even in places without any Catholic presence. In 1970’s and 1980s, the Church moved in a big way to establish Catholic Schools in interior areas of Nagaland to spread literacy and progress. Some of the early ventures in education in 1960s are the establishment of  Little Flower School, Kohima, Holy Cross School, Dimapur, St. John School, Tuensang, St. John Bosco School, Khonoma, All Saints School, Peren, Christ King School, Kohima, Don Bosco School, Lakhuti. Most often the invitation and initiative to begin schools came from the Past Pupils who studied in the Catholic Institutions in Shillong and other places.

Today, the Educational Mission of the Catholic Church is carried out through one University, 5 Colleges, 2 Teacher Education Institutes, 29 Higher Secondary Schools, 31 High Schools, 16 Elementary Schools and 30 Primary Schools spread in the length and breadth of Nagaland. Through her schools, the Catholic Church has been working for the inculcation of spiritual, moral, social values, development of skills, progressive thinking, etc. besides intellectual growth. The Catholic Church places on record the contribution of the teachers and those of the religious men and women for their commitment and sacrifices in facing the adverse and challenging situation and fostering the growth and spread of the Ministry of Education.

The Catholic Church had almost the monopoly of giving quality education in Nagaland in the last quarter of the 20th Century and continues to play a vital role in imparting quality education at affordable rate to the people of Nagaland at their door steps, in spite of the establishment of many private schools. The establishment of schools by other churches and individuals in the later part of the last Century and beginning of this century has given healthy competition among private schools to raise the standard and quality of education in Nagaland. About a quarter of students passing out the Board exams each year come from Catholic schools. The affordable fees charged in Catholic schools and quality textbooks provided at low cost makes education affordable for all sections of people, without compromising on the standard and quality of education.

The Catholic Church believes that education is the path to progress and the most powerful weapon for the transformation of our society. Today, the Catholic Church takes initiatives in revamping education to inculcate social and moral values, development of skills, analytical study, critical thinking, application of knowledge and progressive growth of the whole person in our educational institutions, following the ideals of NEP 2020.

We appreciate the hard work and great initiative of the Present Honourable Advisor and Officers of the Education Department for revamping the Education System in our state. The number of surveys done and initiatives taken are very well appreciated. His sincere admittance that the education department is in a total mess is also appreciated. The failure of the government to put their house in order is admitted in seeking the help of the students union to do it for the government.

It is a known fact that the enrolment in all the rural schools are declining, because of the migration of families from rural areas to urban areas. 25 years ago, Don Bosco High School, Lakhuti had so many students. But now, with many parents getting employed in private and government sectors, they take their children along with them to the urban areas for education. Besides that, so many Catholic Schools are now opened in nearby areas, like Bhandari, Baghty and Sanis. As the Catholic Church is not running the school for profit motive, but to reach out to those in need of quality education, the situation of less enrolment doesn’t deter the Catholic Church from running the school for the students who are settled in the villages. Don Bosco High School Lakhuti is in the service of giving education to the villages of Lakhuti, Akuk, Sunglup, Mekokla, Sanis, New Akuk and Chanka. We have some students coming from these villages to study here at Don Bosco High School, Lakhuti. Even though it is located in one of the remote corners of our State, the school is known for producing cent per cent results in the HSLC Exams for the consecutive many years.

Good number of leaders, both civil and political leaders in Nagaland acknowledge with pride their early education received from Catholic schools and colleges in Shillong in the later part of the last century. Therefore they played a very important role in helping the Catholic Church in opening so many schools all over Nagaland. But, sometimes, it is very disappointing that some sections of people and even the government functionaries fail to acknowledge and appreciate the yeomen service rendered by the Catholic Church and other educationists in the private sector to bring educational growth to the state.

St. Mary’s Church, Lakhuti is the First Catholic Community to be started in Nagaland, which was established in 1951. In the beginning, the Salesians (Don Bosco Fathers) took most of the children from Lakhuti village and surrounding villages to study at Golaghat, Dibrugarh and Shillong. Don Bosco High School in Lakhuti was established later in 1968. It is situated in one of the remote corners of Nagaland. Perhaps, today one of the highest number of gazetted officers from a single village in Nagaland could be from Lakhuti Village. The credit for it goes to Don Bosco High School, Lakhuti. The Catholic Missionaries, facing all odds, reached out for the educational progress of the state in the remote villages to bring it to the forefront. If government schools provide quality education, there is no reason for parents to send children to private schools.

I have served at St. Xavier Higher Secondary School, under Meluri Subdivision. It was established in 1974 by the Jesuit Catholic Missionaries. It is also located in one of the most remote and is one of the very vast areas of our state. At present, there are three private schools. St. Xavier Hr. Sec. School has the highest enrollment in the school, with 1517 students and 44 teachers. There are also two Catholic Schools in the villages, with very less enrolment. Most of the Catholic Schools in the villages are supported by the main school that has more enrolment.

Many village leaders in remote areas still persist in requesting the Catholic Church to open Catholic Schools in their respective villages and areas. The Church is unable to open the Catholic Schools anywhere and anyhow. It requires the Church to invest heavily both in terms of resources and personnel in the field of Education. The number of Catholic Churches in Nagaland has also grown so much. And the focus now is to open Catholic Schools, where the number of Catholic families is more.

Rev. Fr. Benjamin Chang

By EMN Updated: Sep 08, 2023 10:42:26 pm
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