Catholic education and human civilization are two faces of the same coin. Over the past centuries the Catholic universities and schools, run by Catholic clergymen and women religious, have produced to the world renowned scientists and educated people who contributed greatly to scientific research and politics, thus serving the advancement of societies in various fields.
It is worthy to note that during the Middle Ages, the Catholic Church founded Europe's first universities. Some of the renowned people who received education at Catholic educational institutions include credit medieval Catholic mathematicians and philosophers such as John Buridan, Nicole Oresme, and Roger Bacon who is the founders of modern science. Duhem found "the mechanics and physics, of which modern times are justifiably proud, to proceed by an uninterrupted series of scarcely perceptible improvements from doctrines professed in the heart of the medieval schools."
COVID-19 HAS A SIGNIFICANT IMPACT ON CATHOLIC SCHOOLS
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to widespread temporary school closures and a deep economic recession worldwide. This resulted in school closures worldwide which threatened children’s ability to learn and had a grave impact on economy causing devastating economic recession. The recession is going to be even more devastating as some Catholic schools failed to remain sustainable financially in countries where they do not benefit from government support.
CATHOLIC SCHOOLS NEED URGENT SAVING
A. LEBANON FACING DISASTROUS CONSEQUENCES
Alas, the Catholic education, considered one of the pillars of Lebanese society, is in danger of collapsing.
With Lebanon's economic crisis and new Coronavirus pandemic exacerbating the already troubled educational sector, Lebanon faces an "educational emergency" in which some 80 per cent of Catholic schools face closure. His Holiness Pope Francis had earlier donated 400 scholarships to support the education of deserving Lebanese students; however a large-scale campaign is inevitably needed to breathe life into this vital sector.
With Catholic schools already providing schooling to about two-thirds of the pupils in the country's private institutions, their likely closure for the school year 2020-2021, due to the lack of resources, will bring ripples of disastrous consequences as the losses exceed material dimension and lead to a major national loss.
"CATHOLIC SCHOOLS MADE LEBANON"
Maronite Catholic patriarch of Antioch Cardinal Bechara Rai has often referred to the country’s private education system, in particular Catholic schools, as “one of the pillars of Lebanon.” The debilitation of this vital sector implies that collapse of one of the main pillars of the state would lead to successive failures.
This is corroborated by a statement made by Jesuit Fr. Charbel Batour, rector of Collège Notre-Dame de Jamhour who said: “Centuries ago there were no schools but Catholic and Christian schools in Lebanon. We can say that Catholic schools made this country.”
B. THE UNITED STATES
For over two centuries, Catholic schools in the United States have provided an enormous public benefit by educating a diversity of Americans from every walk of life. They also educate significant numbers of students who are not Catholic, including children from Protestant, Jewish and Muslim families and from homes where no religion is claimed.
The Catholic schools are presently facing their greatest financial crisis as a result of COVID-19 pandemic. The tragic situation is that several families are facing the wrenching decision to pull their children out of Catholic schools. With an estimation that 100 Catholic schools may close, urgent measures are badly needed to counter the declining reenrollment trends which could lead to further school closures unless immediate aid is provided.
DO OTHER CATHOLIC SCHOOLS FACE THE SAME CONDITIONS?
It is saddening to note that Catholic schools in several parts of the world are facing similar situations as they are cash-strapped due to COVID-19 pandemic which snowballed into economic crises. The schools in the Holy face similar circumstances. Yet, despite all that, suffering will shortly come to an end when remembering Lord Jesus Christ's words as mentioned in the Holy Bible, "I will not leave you as orphans; I am coming to you.' (John 14:18)