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Young leaders decry commercialised education, ‘corporate’ churches

Young people from developing countries are losing the means to be citizens in their own countries due to commercialised education, which stresses producing graduates for the global market, church and youth leaders gathering in Brazil have said.

"Young people are losing meaning in their lives, and losing what it means to be citizens in their own country. This is because of a kind of education geared towards producing graduates for the large machine of globalisation," the Rev. Romeo del Rosario, president of the Union Theological Seminary in the Philippines, told participants at a side meeting on the final day of the WCC 14-23 February assembly in Porto Alegre, Brazil.

He cited not only young people who take up nursing so they can go to the United States, Canada, Britain and other developed countries, but referred also to young people studying in seminaries training clergy. One tenth of the 88 million people in Philippines now work overseas, Del Rosario said, citing figures from the labour and employment department.

"As a pastor, I teach my students to serve their country, but the drive of many young people to work overseas is really strong," he said.

British educator Ruth Conway who works for Anglican and Methodist programmes, also bewailed how some universities in both developed and developing countries now serve the corporate interests of multinational companies.

She explained how some universities in Britain, in coordination with other institutions in developing countries, have become the research arms of pharmaceutical companies researching and developing new drugs and genetically modified organisms.

The corporate mind-set has also infested many churches, says youth leader Ferdinand Pahtrose of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church in India. "Some churches see prospective ‘converts’ as ‘clients’ as if they are selling some kind of goods," said the seminary student without naming any denomination.

"So the challenge for us, seminary students, is to help push for a spirituality that promotes respect for human dignity and develops human relations based on the sanctity of the human being, not based on commercial criteria or interests," Pahtrose added.

Reflecting on the WCC ninth General Assembly theme, "God, in your grace, transform the world", Pahtrose said the world that globalisation has now engulfed could be transformed "through God’s grace and through the internal transformation of ourselves".

(c) Ecumenical News International