There is an urgent need to humanise education, focusing on the centrality of the person and creating the necessary conditions for an integral development. Giving children and young people a proper autonomy and the necessary leadership will make it possible for each one to grow inwardly, as part of a living, interdependent, and fraternal community. In sharing a common destiny, the complexity of reality will be interpreted through a new pact on education, leading us to rediscover the beauty of humanism inspired by the Gospel. (Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi, Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education in the Welcome Address for the Handbook on the Global Compact for Education).
In an address to participants in an International Conference on the Global Pact on Education (1st June 2022), Pope Francis spoke about how a crisis can become a stimulus to set people out on new paths.
“An eloquent example of how to confront a crisis,” he said, was how the mythological figure Aeneas saves his father and son from the flames of his burning city:
“Aeneas saves himself, but not by himself. He brings with him his father, who represents his past, and his son, who represents the future.”
This image, noted the Pope, “can serve to illustrate the mission of educators, who are called to preserve the past and to guide the steps of the young towards the future. It can also help us to reflect on some fundamental principles of the Global Pact on Education.”
He cites these principles as:
- the centrality of the person: every educational process must be centred on persons and concentrate on what is essential; “everything else is secondary.”
- the need to invest the best energies with creativity and responsibility: Education, he noted “is always rooted in a past,” but it is also aimed at the future “where the old and the new come together in the composition of a new humanism.”
- a need to educate for service: The “throwaway culture” would have us believe that, as soon as something no longer functions properly, it should be thrown out and exchanged. This has also become a mindset that affects what we do with people.
Crisis and opportunity
In conclusion, Pope Francis observed that at a time when technology and consumerism are turning us into users and consumers, “the crisis can become an opportunity for evangelisation, for preaching anew the meaning of our humanity, our life, and this world in which we live.”
It can also be “an opportunity to reassert the centrality of the human person as a creature that, in Christ, is the image and likeness of its Creator.”
“Not to speak the truth about God out of respect for those who do not believe would be,” he stressed, “in the field of education, like burning books out of respect for those who are not intellectuals, destroying works of art out of respect for those who do not see, or silencing music out of respect for those who do not hear.”
On October 5, 2021, on the occasion of World Teachers’ and Educators’ Day, the Vatican held a meeting entitled «Religions and Education: towards a Global Pact on Education». The representatives of the religions of the world dialogued together with Pope Francis about the main educational challenges and, on that occasion, greeted the teachers and educators of all the world. At the end of the meeting, calling upon the cooperation of UNESCO, they invited the institutions of the world to put education at the very centre of the international agenda.
See Global Compact on Education | Global Compact on Education (educationglobalcompact.org)
See also pdf doc download Global Compact on Education
This is a handbook for implementing the Compact on Education and is intended above all for educators who must guide children and young people, through educational and extracurricular, formal and informal courses, in building our common home.