Giving all children and teenagers the education they need, to restore their dignity and allow them to build their own futures. This is the commitment of the many activities carried out by Scholas Occurentes (schools of dialogue) and the Focolare non-profit New Families Association (AFN) with programmes that focus on children and teenagers from around the world, with a teaching method based on values.
The roots of Scholas, an international organisation that last June began operations in Italy with an official inauguration ceremony at their new base in Palazzo San Calisto in Rome, go back twenty years.
George Mario Bergoglio was archbishop of Buenos Aires, and he perceived the importance of the so-called escuelas de vecinos. In 2013 Pope Francis transformed those schools of the quarter into a Pontifical Foundation so that they could promote their educational model on a global level. Currently the network has more than 400 million schools that are connected with each other from the five continents, from every religious and secular background and also public and private institutions in 900 countries.
The pope attended the ceremony which was conducted by Lorena Bianchetti from Rai1. Our reporters were on hand as the Pope spoke off the cuff in Spanish with the young people from around the world who were linked up via internet. “In this society, ‘teaching’ often becomes ‘selecting,’” he stressed. “Instead, we need to ‘join hands, embrace, never attack or say that any human being is a ‘no’. Everyone is a ‘yes’ and has significant role.”
Sometimes in education “we select badly, we create closed groups.” “We’re incapable of thinking with the other, incapable of working with the other,” the pope said. Instead, education is the capacity to speak “the language of the mind, heart and hands.” Therefore, “unity is needed within each one of us” said Francis: “If I believe what I feel, what I think, what I love – then I’m beginning.”
“We’re living in a world where globalisation dominates, and globalization is good,” the pope explained, “but the danger is that of understanding, perceiving globalisation as a billiard ball – all of them are the same – a sphere in which everything is equidistant from the centre, but a sphere in which the personal characteristics of a boy or girl are obliterated.” Instead, “authentic globalization is more like a polyhedron where we seek unity, but each of us maintains his and her own peculiarity their own richness.”
The president of Scholas, José María Del Corral, explained how fundamental that step was for the international growth of the foundation.” Moreover the closeness of the Holy Father is a stimulus to “intensify efforts on the educational front where young people are involved.” Also in Italy, he added, “Scholas appeals to all the sane forces of society to unite their efforts and to offer constructive collaboration.”
This is the challenge for Scholas and for the Focolare AFNonlus who are project partners of some hundred activities in fifty countries around the world, as well as educational programmes for disadvantaged youth. “It’s a demanding project,” said president of the AFNonlus, Andrea Turatti. “The global classroom being created by the web will help to develop educational strategies, human and social development projects in a spirit of solidarity and in view of universal brotherhood.”
Source: AFNonlus online