By R. F. CUNNINGHAM
Secretary of the Catholic Education Council
" IF anywhere it is a question of building a church or build ing a school the school should have preference." These words of Pope Pius X1 to the African Missions may seem strange to Catholics in this country, for although they have fought hard for their schools they have not thought of them as more important than churches.
The words of the Pope reflect not only the desire of the Missions to carry the benefits of education throughout Africa. but also the crucial role of the school in their work. In Europe for the most part where there have been Catholics, schools have followed; in Africa where there have been schools, Catholics have followed and the spread of the Church has greatly depended on the spread of Catholic schools.
From the beginning Christian Missions of all denominations were the pioneers in bringing the benefits of education to the African peoples and their share in this work has continued to be great. even after governments have begun to play a bigger part.
A striking example of this is that as late as 1942, flinty-nine per cent. of all schools in Nigeria were conducted by Missions of the different denominations.
Today, the work of extending education in Africa has assumed an unprecedented importance. In the space of a few years the majority of African countries have advanced to self-government and independence. At the same time they are embarking on great programmes of economic and social development—in the economic field, agricultural improvements and new industries, and in the social field educational and health and welfare services.
The government and administration of the new countries already make heavy demands for trained and skilled manpower, and the programmes of development will greatly increase them.
There is a rising demand for education for its own sake. but it is also evident that a good educational system is an essential con
dition of national progress. In every African state, at least twenty per cent. of the national budget is spent on education, and in some eases the figure is much higher. Hut despite this heavy expenditure, the majority of children even of primary school age do not yet attend school, whilst under ten per cent. of those of secondary school age receive education.
Secondary and higher education are of critical importance, for it is from secondary schools, colleges and universities that future leaders and skilled people will come, above all the teachers who will in their turn transmit the benefits of education to others.
But who is to teach the teachers? If there are not enough teachers and skilled people today, there will be fewer teachers and skilled people and potential leaders to It is on this point that Africa is looking to Europe and the rest of the world for help. It looks for financial help—there are great national and international programmes of aid—but, in addition, it looks for people to staff the schools. hospitals and other services while the African countries are still unable to do this fully for themselves.
Earlier this year, the National
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