The Global Compact on Education and young people

Luiz Fernando Klein, SJ - Education Delegate for CPAL (Conference of Provincials of Latin America and the Caribbean)
[From “Jesuits 2023 - The Society of Jesus in the world”]

A response from the Society of Jesus to the Compact suggested by Pope Francis.

The Pope’s Call

On 12 September 2019, Pope Francis surprised everyone once again with another ‘first’: an invitation to a large meeting in May 2020 at the Vatican to shape a Global Compact on Education. This initiative was entirely unprecedented because although addressed to everyone, it was particularly aimed at leaders, those in charge of education and young people as well. For the latter, the Pope had a specific message saying: “I also call upon you, dear young people, to take part in the meeting and to sense your real responsibility for the building of a better world.”

The Pope has two objectives. The first is to revive commitment to the younger generations via an educational venture with the following characteristics: 1) Greater openness and inclusiveness. 2) A readiness to listen with patience, and 3) Dialogue and mutual understanding. His second objective is to discern how we are shaping the planet and to find ways to reverse the fragmentation and breakdown of contemporary society through relationships that are fraternal, harmonious and express solidarity.

The main reason for this mobilisation is what the Pope calls “the breakdown of the compact on education.” The family, schools and society have effectively given up on working together in an integrated manner. They already disagree in regard to the challenge of how to reverse the current “education disaster” whereby nearly 300 million children and young people are deprived of an education. The current education model is flawed and disconnected from reality since its emphasis is on the transfer of knowledge. It displays no interest in moral values or the practice of skills, and lacks any openness to spiritual transcendence. All this has led to this lamentable situation where fraternity is in meltdown, violence is increasing, there is a “globalisation of indifference”, and children and the elderly are affected by a “throwaway culture,” while the environment is subject to senseless exploitation. All this has a profound effect on the education of children, young people and adults.


Action points

In putting forward the Global Compact on Education, the Pope is not suggesting tangible initiatives or plans, but three action points, where young people can have an influence, may be deduced from his statements. These are: 1) Restoring a sense of fraternity. 2) Restoring the education project, and 3) Building the education village.

Fraternity takes first place. Before being a moral duty or religious obligation, fraternity is an element of sound anthropology that a young person is attracted to, experiences spontaneously and wants to help to create.

Secondly, the education project needs renewal since the current model is purely intellectual, disconnected from reality and, in consequence, failing. That is why the Global Compact on Education requires us to listen to young people, taking their difficulties, criticism and suggestions seriously. It falls to young people to discern with objectivity and depth - alongside their educators and many other societal agents - which model of education should be implemented.

The third point for establishing the Global Compact on Education is building “the education village.” The Pope presents this as a network of open relationships that lead to a meeting of minds, to the building of just and peaceful relationships, and to a spirit of hospitality and dialogue between different social groups and religions. This means establishing contact with many different social institutions and churches to raise their awareness and help them to rally together to create a new social model based on progress and social, political and economic development.


Commitment to young people

Pope Francis’s Apostolic Exhortation Christus Vivit is a declaration of trust in young people, of hope that they will act to restore Gospel values and compassion for their suffering and questions. In the exhortation, the Pope encourages young people to continue to get involved, saying: “Young friends, don’t wait until tomorrow to contribute your energy, your audacity and your creativity to changing our world. Your youth is not an ‘in-between time’.” (CV, n. 178)

The pastoral enthusiasm of the Society of Jesus is available to young people through many institutions including schools, universities, parishes, social centres, and in areas such as culture, spirituality, youth work and media and communications. In line with the third Apostolic Preference established for 2019-2029, the Society is willing to “accompany young people in the creation of a hope-filled future.” That is why the Society is prepared to accompany young people in endorsing the Global Compact on Education. This exercise does not involve the Society acting as a guardian but instead means accompanying young people, encouraging their leadership, respecting their rhythms, listening to their dreams, serving them in their needs and being consoled by their testimony.

The Global Education Compact is an excellent and unprecedented opportunity for us all to work together.

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The Communications Office of the General Curia publishes news of international scope on the central government of the Society of Jesus and on the commitments of the Jesuits and their partners. It also handles media relations.

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