Spain, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Portugal ” “

Spain: educational quality in Catholic institutions The Catholic Schools of Andalusia (ECA), an employers’ organization that represents the majority of Catholic schools in the region, promoted a project aimed at the improvement of quality education in 413 Catholic educational centers of the Andalusian community. Carlos Ruiz, the general secretary of ECA, said that this year the organization is making a major effort to spread in schools across the country the results of the 12th national Congress on Creative Schooling, celebrated in Valladolid past November, when 1300 deans and teachers addressed the need to focus on customized, innovative, ethical, solidarity-based education. For this purpose, ECA is already holding conferences and seminars in all the provinces of Andalusia, to train the headmasters and teachers to the new model of education, which adds a lot to the mere transmission of knowledge. In fact, it entails a quality leap in the involved schools in the coming years. Quality education is the main reason why every year thousands of parents enrol their children in schools that form part of the ECA network, which from now on have the possibility of receive evaluation tests and “Esol Examinations” certifications from the prestigious Cambridge University, thanks to the adoption of the awarded Bilingual English Development & Assessment in Andalusia. Carlos Ruiz also recalled that the public expense for the a student attending an ECA school amounts to 3 thousand euro per year, almost half the cost of a student attending public schools. Czech Republic: Cyril and Methodius in schools “I choose Sofia” is the title of a project launched by the project adopted by the Velehrad Foundation and by the Public Education ministry of the Czech Republic in 2013, aimed at the training of pupils in maternal, primary and secondary schools, based on the message of Cyril and Methodius. “A package of didactic material in four sections and a handbook for teachers on the life and mission of the brothers from Thessalonica have been published with the purpose of informing children and youths about the important milestones of our history in a creative and attractive way”, sais the representatives of the Velehrad Foundation. The basic material – put together by a prominent Bohemian Catholic priest, Minister of Education in the years 1992-1994, Professor Petr Pit’ha, – the author told SIR Europe – highlights the enrichment of knowledge along with “the formation of their approach to school subjects following a more authentic and personalized model, underlining the fact that each one of them belongs to this tradition. At the same time they are invited to assume the responsibility of spreading this precious message, in the present and in the future”. The educational material is distributed in schools, and is also available on the website: www.maticevelehradska.cz. Slovakia: record-breaking documentary on the Roma “When I heard the news of the Roma encampment set ablaze some time ago in the eastern part of Slovakia, I said never mind, fewer of them will be around. Now I’m ashamed of that attitude”. “I previously was totally indifferent to the news on the poverty of the Roma… but after having seen that film I cannot close my eyes because I see it right in front of me”. These are only two of the many reactions of those who saw the documentary “All my children”, screened over the past weeks in movie theatres across the Country. The movie presents the figure of Catholic priest Marián Kuffa and his services in the midst of one of the most marginalised group of Slovakian citizens. The number of viewers exceeded expectations: during the first week of screening, nearly five thousand people have seen this moving documentary, breaking all records. “We are very happy. This shows that Slovakia is full of good, generous people who have at heart the destiny of those who are suffering”, remarked the movie director, Ladislav Kaboš. “The film shows only the work and commitment of a single priest in a Roma settlement, but we must realize that there are at least 150 other settlements of this kind that deserve the attention of the authorities and of each of us”, Kaboš added, conveying the hope that the documentary may prompt concrete help to the members of the Roma ethnic group, most of whom live in the Eastern part of Slovakia. For further information: www.vsetkymojedeti.eu. Portugal: Lent, going beyond exterior rites The director of the National Secretariat of Social Pastoral Care in Portugal, in an interview to the weekly “Ecclesia” underlined the importance of Lent as a time in which “the Resurrection of Jesus came to change history, and to leave a permanent invitation to conversion”. He recalled that the Lenten period should be characterized by three moments especially: “prayer, fasting and repentance”. They represent three challenges with “a very specific pedagogy”, added Father José Manuel Pereira de Almeida: “They call to daily sobriety, attention to those things that bear greater importance, both in the relationship with God, and in the relations with our fellow other, representing the key to a change in life. Without that awareness external rites, such as the imposition of ashes, in and of themselves, do not have or lose their meaning”.

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