Multan (Agenzia Fides) - "Our priority is to train religion teachers and catechists in the authentic teachings of the Church and to help them learn and proclaim the proclamation of the faith. In this intensive course, organized specifically for religion teachers and Catholic catechists, our objective is to train them also in the light of the new Single National Curriculum (SNC), by offering adequate and complete training to our teachers, in order to respond to the needs of public and private schools and colleges. At the same time, this initiative will also benefit our Catholic schools so that well-trained teachers can teach the catechism of the Catholic Church": this is what the Dominican Fr. Jamshed Albert OP, Director of the Pastoral Institute of Multan said, who organized a special training course for catechists and religion teachers.
Father Jamshed Albert OP says: "The Episcopal Commission for Catechesis has been working on the organization of this program for four years. Often junior and high school students lack the teaching of the Catholic faith due to a shortage of teachers. In order to have qualified teachers, we are launching this intensive course for teachers of religious education". The course includes lessons on: Catechism of the Catholic Church, Holy Scripture, Sacraments, Church History, Liturgy, Christology, History of Salvation, Mariology, Christian Prayer, Christian Ethics, Heresies and Apologetics, Teaching Methodologies of the faith. The course, which began on September 24, includes eight months of training for 112 hours of study until May 2022, and is held at the Multan Pastoral Institute, which has been organizing it for 20 years. There are 34 registered young teachers and catechists from different cities in Pakistan, including Karachi, Hyderabad and Rawalpindi. In Pakistan, representatives of religious minorities welcomed the government's initiative to approve the new "Unique National Program" (SNC) in July 2020, which aims to eliminate discriminatory practices in educational contexts and to provide "a fair and equal opportunity for all children to receive a high-quality education".
While the implementation of the new SNC in the various provinces of the country is underway, Christian associations and churches are working to include specific religious education classes for non-Muslim students attending public schools, according to their faith, thus initiating cycles of lessons related to Christianity in state schools.
Anjum James Paul, Catholic professor and president of the "Association of Teachers of Religious Minorities in Pakistan", explains to Agenzia Fides: "Our objective is to introduce, within three years, a specific program on Christianity in schools. The content of the training, born from the collaboration between the Catholic and Protestant Churches, revolves around four main areas: Faith and prayer; life of Jesus Christ; ethical and moral values; examples and lives of saints".
Anjum Paul adds: "It takes time to train our young people to become teachers of the Christian religion. The Unique National Curriculum provides for high and verifiable learning standards. In the coming years there will be more job opportunities for teachers in public schools: we must be prepared". Emmanuel Neno, executive secretary of the Catechetical Commission of the Catholic Bishops' Conference, said: "We want our Catholic teachers to be firm in their faith, to learn the correct teachings of the Church and to teach them correctly in Catholic and state schools. In this course, we tackle various issues concerning the Catholic faith in relation to the world, in order to properly train our teachers and consequently our students". (AG-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 30/9/2021)