Catholic Schools. Networking
From collaboration toward a truly sustainable future
Luis Centeno Caballero
Assistant Secretary-General of EC,
head of the Legal Department of the Catholic Education Foundation
Advisor to CONFER, Lawyer
Escuelas Católicas (EC) is the trademark of the Federación Española de Religiosos de la Enseñanza-Titulares de Centros Católicos (FERE-CECA) and Educación y Gestión (EyG). FERE-CECA has been associated since 1957 the owners of the educational centers, and EyG represents them in its business aspect since 1989. Currently, it integrates 1,976 Catholic educational centers, most of them with some level of subsidized education. Most of them are integrated centers; they have more than one stage. If we separate them by educational levels, we would speak of 1,756 centers for Infant Education, 1,704 for Primary Education, 1,641 for Secondary Education (ESO or Basic FP), and 776 centers for Baccalaureate or FP of Middle or Superior Grade, that is to say, 5,877 pedagogical entities. They educate 1,216,907 students and employ 102,948 workers, of whom 83,682 are teachers.
Escuelas Católicas accounts for 15% of the total education system and 58% of private subsidized education, making it the most representative organization in this sector.
Luis Centeno Caballero
17 Goals to transform our world.
As is well known, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG17) are the master plan designed by the United Nations to achieve a sustainable future for all, with a view to the year 2030. These Goals are interrelated and incorporate the global challenges we face every day, such as poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, peace, and justice. To leave no one behind, it is essential that we achieve each of these goals by 2030.
Within them appear some especially linked to education, highlighting:
“Goal 4. Ensure inclusive, equitable, and quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities.”
If sustainable development is to be achieved, quality education is the cornerstone. Education and literacy provide people with the tools to lift themselves out of poverty and have a better future. Yet, today, more than 265 million children are out of school, a reality that no one wants to acknowledge.
“Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.”
Equality among all people, regardless of gender, is a fundamental right that must be guaranteed to achieve real sustainability. To achieve equality, women and girls must have access to education, health care, decent work, and be able to participate in political and economic decision-making processes.
Encarna Cuesta President of the National Schoolar Council, with Luis Centeno
Global Education Pact and “Scholas” Program
Catholic Schools has joined the Global Education Pact (GEP) promoted by Pope Francis with the initiative “Together we are Light”, committed to promoting joint work with all those who share our concerns to transform the world.
To this end, a six-step itinerary has been developed: Know, Understand, Analyze and Debate, Prioritize, Put into Action, and Share. These steps are worked on in each school, and the reflections, commitments, and actions of the teaching staff and the educational community are shared with the network of schools of the Institution, with neighboring centers, and in social networks in response to SDG 17. Currently, there are 474 Catholic Schools registered in the Project, of which 184 are carrying out the phase of sharing the experience with other schools.
The five areas of study proposed by the Pope and being worked on are:
1.- Dignity and human rights.
2.- Fraternity and cooperation.
3.- Technology and integral ecology.
4.- Peace and citizenship.
5.- Cultures and religions.
For its part, the “Scholas” Program works to achieve the SDGs directly through the implementation and development of educational programs (around art, sports, and technology) and the establishment of strategic alliances with multiple social actors. It also collaborates by promoting and supporting proposals from young people participating in its educational programs that address pressing needs in their communities. It is easy to deduce that SDG4 has been in the DNA of “Scholas” since its inception, the Neighborhood Schools of Buenos Aires more than 20 years ago, a model well known to Pope Francis.
Finally, “Scholas” is a member of Mission 4.7, an initiative born in December 2020 that brings together political, academic, civil society, and business leaders to accelerate the implementation of Education for Sustainable Development worldwide.
Pilar Alegria, Minister of Education, with Luis Centeno
Goal 17: partnership to achieve the goals
It is essential to highlight the value of the alliance of actors, the sum of forces, to achieve the SDGs. Thus, there is a cross-cutting goal dedicated to mutual collaboration among the list of goals.
“Revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development”.
There is no point in setting laudable objectives in different areas if there are no agreements between all the actors who must participate and be involved in achieving them: governments, private companies, and citizens. The SDGs can only be achieved through strong partnerships and collaboration.
For a development agenda to be successfully delivered, inclusive partnerships (at global, regional, national, and local levels) need to be established on principles and values, as well as on a shared vision and goals that focus first on people and, likewise, on the planet, as our Common Home.
In Spain, the Escuelas Católicas brand has been working intensively since 2005 to achieve true collaboration between Catholic schools. Escuelas Católicas groups 2,000 schools and is formed by the union of the Federación Española de Religiosos de la Enseñanza (created in 1957) and the Confederación de Centros Educación y Gestión (born in 1989).
We know that the purpose of an educational institution is the proper basis for carrying out all its work, constituting the foundation of its educational project, which is shared with other institutions when the desired collaboration is promoted and achieved.
The purpose, the Mission, is manifested in the educational project and in each of the people who are part of the institution, in multiple ways, combining in the best way the variables of commitment, responsibility, and collaboration.
It is essential to highlight that 5 out of 10 companies declare to have worked highly and intensely during the last years to promote the SDG 2030. In this sense, Catholic educational centers’ capacity for commitment and collaboration is a benchmark for the rest of the sectors, from an education based on the person and on Christian values, which highlight and strengthen human rights.
Luis Centeno Caballero