05/31/2007, 00.00
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Card. Toppo: “Education is the Churches priority mission and key to Indian development”

Presenting “All India Catholic Education Policy”, the first ever text to explain the dynamics of Catholic education in the nation, the prelate underlined the Churches battle against illiteracy and appealed to the government to lend its support to the programme.

Delhi (AsiaNews) – Education is key to Indian development, Catholic education is an integral part of the Churches mission and is in perfect harmony with social expectations.  This was the main theme of card. Telesphore Toppo’s address as he presented the “All India Catholic Education Policy”, this morning, the first ever text to explain the dynamics of Catholic education in the nation.


The president of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India cited John XXIII: “Church is both a mother and a teacher. That’s why it is so much involved in the education apostolate and has invested a huge amount of personnel and money in education”.


“Unless the poor and the marginalised are educated, - continued the Cardinal - India cannot be a developed country. The Church has always cooperated with the government in the field of education. The government too on its part must support the Church’s effort to bring education to the masses”.


The first Catholic school in India was started by St Francis Xavier in 1541 in Goa.  Today the Catholic Church has 14, 539 Catholic educational institutions, of which 448 are colleges.  59.3% of the schools are in the rural areas and only 40.3% of schools are in the urban areas


Of the 7 million students studying in the Catholic institutions, 54% are girls and 46% are boys.The percentage of Catholic students is only 22.7%, while that of Hindus is 53%.  Caste is not a consideration among pupils as the schools are open to all.  


The large majority of the students 41.4% belong to the Below Poverty Line group, 32.4% belong to the lower income group and 19% from the middle income group.  Almost all of the political and economic leaders in the country studied in the Catholic Institutions.


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