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New ties forged with South Africa through National Religious Education Symposium

2 August 2017 | General Interest

A nationally respected leader in Catholic education in South Africa says he is looking forward to bringing fresh insights into curriculum planning in his home country as a result of his participation in the National Religious Education Symposium in Sydney.

Mr Paul Faller has played a pivotal role in RE policy development in South Africa in his role as National Coordinator of Religious Education at the Catholic Institute of Education (CIE) in Johannesburg for nearly 25 years and has been honoured for his work with a prestigious Bene Merenti Medal for services to the Catholic Church in South Africa.

Paul Faller

Mr Faller said the Religious Education Symposium has been an incredibly rewarding experience for him.

“The theme of the symposium, secularisation, is also very much a reality in Catholic education in South Africa, where so many of our students and teachers are not directly connected to parish communities and rely upon the Catholic school as their only authentic witness of the Catholic faith”, he explained.

As an associate body of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC), the Catholic Institute of Education is responsible for shaping the RE curriculum in the country and professional development programs in the area for teachers.

Mr Faller says Catholic schools in South Africa are a reflection of the country’s rich cultural and religious diversity with only one quarter of students and teachers coming from Catholic backgrounds.

“Our Principals also tend to come from different faith backgrounds and so we very much embrace the notion of Catholic education in South Africa as universal, so it meets the needs of all in our school communities”, he added.

Mr Faller said the National Religious Education Symposium has helped him gain a much deeper understanding of the broader international developments in RE and he will be encouraging some of his colleagues to join him for next year’s event in Brisbane.

“We have very few staff focused solely on Religious Education teaching in South Africa, so it’s critical that our teachers are exposed to all the latest developments in this area on the global stage through a symposium like this one which can then help to shape their professional practice in the classroom”, he said.

 

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