ACPI Annual Research Seminar held at Morning Star College, Barrackpore, Kolkata
Kolkata: The Association of Christian Philosophers of India (ACPI) held its 45th annual research seminar at the Morning Star College Barrackpore, Kolkata, from 14– 16 October, 2022, on the theme: “Emancipative Education: Policies and Practices”.
The Keynote Address was delivered by Bagdogra Bishop Vincent Aind. The Bishop emphasized the point that while a lot of effort is being put in to make education skill and job-oriented, similar attention needs to be given to making education an emancipative process, for persons and society at large.
The research papers presented at the seminar proposed philosophies, policies and practices aimed at enhancing the quality of education as an important social offering. It was felt that educational stakeholders—management, staff, students, parents—need to view education as an important means to nurture civic responsibility. The cultivation of critical, creative and inclusive thinking will enable a holistic and transformative outcome, translating into a positive contribution towards development at various fronts—economic, political and cultural.
Study and research need to be more consciously related to finding solutions for social and environmental problems. Education needs to be inclusive, accessible and interdisciplinary—aspirational goals which find expression in the National Educational Policy. Temptations related to the commercialization of education need to be eschewed, as well as the counterproductive designing of educational programmes which cultivate inflexible, fundamentalist and divisive dispositions.
The last ACPI research seminar was held in October 2019, at the St. Joseph Vaz Centre in Old Goa, on the theme “Philosophizing Science: Promises, Perils and Possibilities”. The papers from this seminar were now released in the form of a book with the same title, edited by Joy Alumkal, and published by Christian World Imprints (CWI), Delhi.
Dr. (Fr.) Keith D’Souza, SJ (Outgoing President, ACPI)
Dr. (Fr.) John Peter Vallabadoss, OFM Cap. (Incoming President, ACPI)
Concluding Statement of the ACPI Research Seminar
We, the members of the ACPI held our annual Research Seminar at Morning Star College, Kolkata, for the purpose of a common reflection on the theme, “Emancipative Education: Policies and Practices”. Traditional forms of education were assessed in terms of their critical, creative, inclusive, relevant and emancipatory contributions.
Key insights which emerged from the deliberations:
- The purpose of education is primarily to enable personal and social emancipation. Students need to be enabled to learn, unlearn and relearn, thus ensuring their ongoing personal transformation, the development of character and integrity and a fundamental openness to a value-based educational journey.
- Educationists need to inculcate learning which serves to overcome stereotypical prejudices based on religion, gender, caste, class, language, region and ethnicity. Students need to be inspired to cultivate a sense of universal fraternity, based on an empathetic spirit.
- Today we have more literacy than education. Literacy includes skills of reading and writing, whereas education is a much wider project, resulting in the integral development of the person and society.
- For the more privileged, learning has gone beyond the classroom to include the virtual world. This necessitates even more accompaniment and guidance of teachers, as the digital world poses a variety of challenges hitherto unknown.
In the light of these deliberations and insights, we the members of the ACPI, sincerely commit ourselves:
- To make education a liberating, democratizing and humanizing force, enhancing conditions of dignity, mutual regard, self-actualization, equity and social wellbeing.
- To rediscover education as a vocation, and not a mere profession, or worse, a commercial enterprise, falling prey to the neo-liberal agenda of capitalist market-forces.
- To evolve educational processes whereby all stakeholders become genuinely human and humane, imbued with a sense of civic responsibility.
- To design educational processes that make use of the brain’s neuroplasticity, so as to facilitate understanding, creativity, critical thinking and the ability to generate alternative and wholesome social narratives.
- To enlighten learners to overcome traditional and inherited bondages and to transgress unwholesome and limiting boundaries. Such transgression will hopefully lead to transformation and emancipation. For this to happen, teachers and students alike need to be critical and creative producers of knowledge, not just passive receptors of educational systems, practices and content.
- To realize that education is a hermeneutical task opening up to various horizons of meaning and truth, including indigenous and subaltern wisdom.
- To understand and develop educational and research processes as social projects, in the service of the eradication of various forms of social inequity.
- To aim at a borderless society and promote the common good, going beyond all that divides and compartmentalizes human society.
- To ensure that educational processes help to overcome divisive, fundamentalist and extremist forms of thinking.
- To advance spiritual education which transcends the boundaries of institutionalized religion in order to enable believers to realize that to be religious is to be inter-religious. To enable learners to perceive unity in diversity, divinity in humanity and intrinsic value in nature.
Our reflections on this theme revealed our present limitations and the need for continued efforts to make educational processes holistic and progressive, accessible to the least and the lost in our society. We need to network with those who are genuinely interested in the welfare of our country and desire to work for every section of society, to listen to the voice of the voiceless, to celebrate diversity through mutual respect, based on a wholesome understanding of personhood and society.