Catholic schools in Africa aim at helping citizens become aware of their dignity and right to a full life, and at forming the leading elites of society, among other things. These are also the goals of the CELAF (Centre Lasallien Africain – African Lasallian Center).
In fact, to mark the opening of the 2017-2018 academic year, the CELAF Institute organized, as usual, an inaugural lecture on Thursday, September 14, 2017. It was entitled “Contribution of the Catholic Church to the training of African elites”. The speaker was Mr Yaobi Ernest – assistant professor at the History Department of Felix Houphouet Boigny University in Abidjan, and lecturer on Church history at the CELAF Institute. As a good historian, he ‘made the past present’ by recalling the good works the Catholic Church has accomplished in Ivory Coast, which he knows very well. His historical outline included the foundation of the first Catholic primary schools in Ivory Coast by European missionaries in the 1910s, and of the Schools for Catechists sometime later, both of which have contributed to the formation of many Ivorian executives.
Before listening to Professor Yaobi Ernest’s conference, the audience enjoyed two other speeches: one by Brother Valère Adonsou Anani, new Director General of the CELAF Institute, and another by Brother Paulin Degbe, Visitor of the Gulf of Benin District, and President of the CELAF executive committee.
The speeches and the conference helped us, on the one hand, to understand better the goals of the CELAF Institute – which, by the way, is celebrating its Silver Jubilee, with the joy of having trained so many Christian teachers in the last 25 years – and, on the other hand, to acknowledge the important achievements of the Catholic Church regarding education in Africa, especially in Ivory Coast.
However, we also realized that the Church has not reached all social strata and levels of our population. What strategies and methods could the Catholic schools implement to include everyone, especially with the advent of the new technologies?