World Student Christian Federation - Asia-Pacific Region (WSCF-AP)
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Regional Programme

Concept paper:

Student Empowerment
for Transformation (SET) 2004

 

Rationale

When we talk about education, there are always 3 vital questions we need to ask: what are the genuine goals of education, for whom education is being provided for and what type of education is being offered.

In this era of rapid globalisation of the world, the present trend of education seems to be narrowing towards catering to the demands of the economy and to what would be potential profit-makers in the global market. Hence, what is emphasized in the present trend of education and what is being infused into the mindset of many students and youth are the focuses of capital and profit. Academic subjects such as Biotechnology, Information Technology, Agricultural but geared towards interest in Genetically Modification, Business, are subjects that are accepted as relevance to the worldview that was shaped by the multinational companies who want to continue raking in the profits, by only a few handful of countries termed as superpowers to continue the imbalance of global development, by the governments’ struggling to either sink or swim in the global market demands and interests laid down by the wealthier and more influential countries or global institutions.

The Asia-Pacific region is by no means, drawn into this global play. Asia-Pacific has gone through years of colonisation, divisions, war, economic oppression, natural resources exploitation, and the term neo-colonisation in this region is not something new. With its pluralism and diversity in ethnicity, cultures, religions and languages, this region has an inclination to go into the extremes if it had difficulties in achieving a political, social and economical balance. This definitely has a huge impact on students and youth while moulding the form of education the countries would devise to go along with the global forces in order to avoid the extremes and to survive in the global market.

In a way, the present trend of education that is commonly seen in many countries around the globe and in Asia-Pacific treks on a path of being:

  1. Divisive: it divides society into those who ‘know’ and who ‘don’t know’, into those who direct and those who produce, into ‘modernised/westernised and traditional.
  2. Unjust: it is unjust in its outcomes – perpetuating inequalities and exaggerates the wealth of the few at the cost of the vast majority.
  3. Alienating: it is destructive of a people’s culture and identity, and alienates them from creative tradition and life in the community.
  4. Anti-people: it strengthens the militarisation of politics and therefore makes the vast majority politically powerless.
  5. The Tool of Oppression: Universities in particular are the tools of government and industry and through these, the ruling classes.[1]

This path of division and alienation is hence, one of the important sources that prompted the age of terrorism in the world today.

As Socrates said, “(Education) is to search out and criticise the popular assumptions on which social hypocrisy and injustices stand”[2], no longer rings true as at present, education does not allow itself to become the means for personal and community transformation, hence the students and youth are unable to develop themselves as holistic human beings with a good grasp of what is meant by care, compassion, communion, spirituality and respect. Education at this moment, talks very little on what is meant by Prophetic or Conscientising Education[3] – the learning process that will enable students and youth to transform themselves readily in a conscious effort with a capacity to analyse and reflect critically the causes and consequences of the world and their own society. Hence, what is needed urgently at this present era is a reformation of education. Students and youth need an education that is an alternative to the present trend of education that does not develop the students and youth as a whole but instead enslave them to the demands of the global market and forces. An Alternative Education will help the students and youth to be deeply involved in issues and knowledge of:

  1. Peace & Reconciliation
  2. Economic Justice
  3. Social Justice
  4. Gender Justice
  5. Ecology Justice
  6. Spiritual Development
  7. Ecumenical Understanding

The issue of education has always been vital to the Student Christian Movement. SCM has taken up the task of sharpening students and youth’s awareness of the dilemmas and situations in their culture, history, environment, religion and politic-socio-economic elements, empowering and transforming the students and youth to consciously analyse, critique and act to seek a reconciliation of justice and peace. SCM has in many ways served the student ministry with a prophetic role. Hence it is necessary that SCM to continue this prophetic role that is extremely important for the future generations to understand the true and deep meaning of justice, peace and spirituality for the whole human race.

WSCF AP’s regional programme, Student Empowerment for Transformation (SET) 2004 will not only study on the essential issue of an Alternative Education, but also examine it in the context of the pluralistic and diverse society of Asia-Pacific. The impact of this pluralism impose a great effect on the basis of an alternative and encompassing education and SET2004 needs to reflect deeply this impact has on the students and youth in this region. The role of SCM as the prophetic student movement will need to be reflected and critiqued on in order to keep up with the times and signs of the changing trends and challenges in Asia-Pacific. This will help the SCM to refresh and revitalise itself to continue working for the students and youth.

Objectives

Project Beneficiaries

Project Description

Preparatory Stage:

The selection process of the participants shall follow a set of criteria formulated by the WSCF Regional Office. Each identified country shall have an equal number of participants. Once the participants are identified and invited, the Regional Office will require them to immediately undergo initial integration and research on the theme and work with different church organizations or NGOs that have been actively involved in the issue of alternative education. They shall then prepare a formal report on the results of the research. Technical preparations for the Workshop shall also be done during this stage. A close coordination with the host country and the Regional Office, and the invitation of resource persons will also be done during this stage.

Workshop Stage:

The 16 days workshop will have the several components (please refer to the Program Content). During this workshop period, participants will have the opportunity to present and share their reports based on their initial research and integration in their own countries. Before and after 5 days exposure, they will hear inputs provided by resource speakers and bible study leaders. Then they will also discuss and analyze critical issues, drawing out the trends and commonality. With their deepened and sharpened insights, they will then draft an action plan for networking and feasible tie-up activities.

Solidarity Networking Stage:

During this stage, the WSCF AP regional office will encourage the participants to organize a seminar or workshop in campus or their movements to assess their country’s situation of education and to search for alternative ways of education in pluralistic Asian context. The WSCF AP office will also assist in providing the names of other organizations aside from the identified organizations with which the national movements will link up for joint activities. If necessary, the WSCF AP will arrange with or endorse some link-up with other international organizations.

Program Content

Project Management

The entire project will be under the auspices of the WSCF AP Regional Office. The Regional Secretary, as the chief executive officer, will be primarily in charge of the project. The WSCF AP Regional women’s Coordinator will assist in implementing and facilitating the actual workshop. Together, they will be responsible for the necessary arrangements for materials, resource speakers/facilitators, and contacts for the exposure program. The WSCF AP will also do the other preparatory matters. A team of the Regional Secretary, the Regional Women’s Coordinator and SCM members from the host country will be formed to facilitate the whole SET 2004.

Evaluation

A brief assessment of the project’s actual implementation will be done on the last day of the program. The impact of the program on the national movements will be monitored by the Regional Office in the ensuing year after the workshop. Monitoring will include local initiatives and activities of national movements on dealing with the issue of education.

Standard training type-evaluation will be administered by the WSCF AP Standing Committee Meeting which will be held 4 months after the SET 2004.

Time Table

 

Notes:
  1. Liberating Education, Rev. John England, WSCF AP Book Series No. 6, pg. 94
  2. The Socratic Dialogue, Plato
  3. Liberating Education, Rev. John England. Pg. 97
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