Inspiring developments in the Francophonie

„The Reformation Continues“ was the title over this year’s annual conference, Feb 17-19, of the evangelical schools of the Francophonie. When Luc Bussière startet the first „new“ evangelical school Collège Daniel in Guebwiller, Alsace, in 1986, he also began immediately with annual conferences to inspire, equip and connect Christian educators. In the meantime, he and his wife Manuela have triggered an amazing movement, including

  • annual conferences (Fri evening - Su lunch) with 300-400 participants today
  • a network of 41 schools
  • 50 school projects at different stages, in the planning
  • an association AESPEF (Association des Etablissements Scholaires Evangeliques en Francophonie) which coordinates the schools
  • a teacher training seminary (Institut Supérieur Protestant Mathurin Cordier) which is now in its 3rd year, offering full-time training as well as modular courses

This is the amazing result of faithful perseverance. It started with a mustard seed and has grown by now to a sizable tree! And this despite the fact that their free schools don’t receive any financial help from the state!

Luc and Manuela have passed on the operation of the Collège and are now free to travel and consult school projects.

The conferences are named after the influential French pedagogue Mathurin Cordier (1479-1564) who taught at the side of John Calvin. The vision of the conference is, to regain and ecceed the territory of Christian schools of the 17th century, when there were 1500 of them in France.

At the present, the public school in France has a very poor reputation. This is an opportunity for Christian schools - but they must ask themselves „What do we do differently, so that we are not just one more school, but a school of more value?“ So the reform continues.

Encouraging developments in Ukraine

Since the Law 1447 (allowing Christian schools official status in Ukraine) was passed by parliament, twenty-two new Christian schools have opened and there are concrete plans for six more to start working next September!

God is using our small alliance to play a big role in casting a vision for Christian education among churches and schools of this region, encouraging and training emerging school leaders and helping those just beginning the journey with important organisational and legal advice. We want to help them shape schools into places where pupils can learn about God’s world in a way that also molds Christian character and worldview and prepares graduates to help transform their societies in ways that glorify God and promote His goals in the world.

In November work began in earnest on the technical aspects of a cutting-edge website for Christian teachers called “What If Learning” that was originally developed in English by specialists from the UK, USA and Australia. Thankfully, over the past several months, about 75% of the original material has been translated into Russian, and work on that continues.

For more of the very interesting news about Christian developments in Ukraine, contact Cindy LeClair, cindy(at)missioneurasia.org

 

EurECA Board Meeting 2016

This year’s EurECA Board meeting took place in Oslo, from October 28th – 31st. We were hosted by Signe Sandsmark, a former member of the board, who is also helping us with the preparation for our next conference.

Sadly several of the board members could not join us for health and family related reasons, but our board was strengthened by three new board members, who with their experience and gifting are a great addition to the current board.

While a great time of board meetings is usually spent on looking forward, we also took some time to look back over the history of EurECA. Remembering how the work of EurECA had started with a heart to serve Christian teachers, with the original vision being to serve mainly those who are in public schools. In talking to one of our founding board members, Rosemarie Stückelberger-Wieberneit, before the board meeting, we had been reminded that much of the foundation for starting EurECA had been based on prayer and seeking the Lord for guidance. Silke Edelmann spoke about how we need to continue in that spirit.

Realizing that we have not fully reached the goal of supporting Christian teachers in public school we spent some time thinking about this aspect of our work. Already during our board meeting in Lisbon we had decided to increase intentional networking, with the aim to have a network in every European country supporting teachers in public schools.  Now we considered some practical steps in finding Christian teachers, who could catch a vision for their own country and reach other teachers, so that every child in every nation will have had contact with at least one Christian teacher during their time in school.

The rest of the board meeting was spent on preparing the practical aspects for the conference, visiting the conference centre and planning for the administrative aspects. On Sunday we also planned in some time for fun and fellowship with the board, visiting some of the touristy spots in Oslo.

With renewed vision and excitement the board members returned home on Monday, refreshed for the work of the Lord in the schools of Europe.

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 Network for Christians in Higher Education

One of the most significant needs of the global Church is developing its next generation of intellectual leaders who can articulate a robust Christ-centered worldview, who have a passionate love for Jesus, are living missionally and are teaching and writing with excellence. Evangelicals who are teaching, in administration or in graduate programs at universities, seminaries, Bible colleges or other post-secondary educational institutions are welcome to apply to participate in the Academic Leaders Network at the European Leadership Forum, in Wisla, Poland, 21-26 May, 2016. The ELF Academic Leaders Network provides a gathering space where Christians in higher education can experience equipping,fellowship, networking, collaboration, and accountability. (Scholarships are available for participants from Central and Eastern Europe.) You can find more information at www.euroleadership.org/academicleaders or you may contact the network director, Dr. Daryl McCarthy, at dmccarthy@euroleadership.org.

EurECA Board Meeting

Lisbon 2015

Over the weekend of October 31st – November 2nd, members of the EurECA Board met together for their annual Board retreat in Lisbon, Portugal.  Besides focusing on conference preparation and on how to maintain the work EurECA is already doing, we spent some time considering EurECA’s future.

Several Board members had previously expressed concern that we lacked vision, resulting in a loss of zeal. We must now enter a new phase, so that EurECA, perhaps seen by some to only organize conferences, was recognized as being able to provide content and direction to Christian educators across Europe.  Working individually, members expressed where they believed EurECA should be in 5 years’ time.  The two most critical areas identified were:

  • being a voice for Christians in education across Europe;
  • being connected with all Christian educators associations in Europe

These goals are challenging, given that the number of members on the EurECA Board has been declining, at a time when there is an ever increasing opposition to Christian values in societies across Europe.  However, Matt Kaegi, Chair of the EurECA Board reminded us at the beginning of the Board meeting of the negative report given by some of the spies who went up to Canaan.  Looking at the challenges that lie ahead of us, it can often seem overwhelming.   It seems to us also that others are stronger in number and finance and more vocal in their arguments.  We have to remember that, in the end, God gave Israel the victory over Canaan.

Liviu Caprar is already working hard exploring how EurECA might co-operate with other Christian educators organizations and Silke Edelmann has made a good start in working with the EEA so that EurECA can be seen as a voice for Christians in education.

The result of the meeting was that we came away with a clearer vision; some steps we need to take towards that vision and great encouragement that EurECA has the potential to move forward.

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ALBERT HOEKSTRA

   We were sorry to be given the sad news of the death of Albert Hoekstra, 

the speaker at the EurECA 2015  conference on Mentoring in Poland.

   Albert’s  experience,  his  spiritual  mindedness,  his  love  to     develop  peoples’ calling  and  leadership  qualities,  his practical  approach  to  the  topic,  pervaded  each  session.

He has three children and five grand-children, the youngest of whom was born just a few weeks ago. The family have posted the following on their Facebook page:

 It causes us great pain to have to share with you all that Albert passed away last Saturday.  Albert was abroad teaching in Sri Lanka ...and he went for a swim in the sea with two friends. The preliminary report tells us that one of his arteries was 80% blocked and this potentially contributed to the fact the currents were too strong.  We are all heartbroken and devastated: there are no words really to describe our pain.

Albert served on the Board of EurECA 1998-2002 as a representative of the Netherlands. He will be greatly missed, not only by his family, but also by the wider Christian community, which he faithfully served during his life.  Many were blessed and encouraged by his ministry.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family.

“Remember, O lord, how I have always been faithful to you and have served you single mindedly, always doing what pleases you.”  Isaiah 38:3 (NLT)

 

Slovakian High-School Progress Report

Home for the Center of Christian Education in Slovakia has a new "home". In order to find out more about this amazing story click here.

 

Ukraine passed Reform Bill on Education

by Ray and Cindy LeClai, 08.04.2015

Yesterday the long-prayed for reform bill on education passed the first reading in the Ukrainian Parliament! If the amendment is fully passed, Ukraine will grant full equal rights to religious organizations to found Christian educational institutions including elementary and high schools. In order to read the full report click here.

 

Press Release
Right to Education:

Freedom of Choice as a way to anchor democracy and social cohesion
Brussels, 27 January 2015. The ‘economization’ of education weakens European democracies. As a way to anchor democracy and social cohesion in Europe, the EU Parliament is urged to promote freedom of school choice throughout the European Union. At a round table on 27 January 2015 in the EU Parliament, representatives of 27 organizations of independent education in Europe discussed this urgency with the EU Parliament. In order to read the full report click here.

Slow Progress with the Bulgarian Education System

by Yvonna Stoilova

It has been a long, painful year for Bulgarian citizens. After the long awaited elections in October the financial crisis came after the head of the Corporate Commercial Bank, Tzvetan Vassilev, was accused of corruption. Indeed, the content of a 1.8 billion € portfolio i.e. 65% of the loans granted by the bank, disappeared. The bank was finally closed on 11th July. The result of the bank crisis was that the President of the Republic, Rossen Plevneliev, asked the government to launch a procedure to join the EU’s Single Surveillance Mechanism. (5)

In addition, general economic growth in the country is slow, unemployment is high and important reforms need to be carried out in key sectors such as the judiciary, healthcare and education. Difficult reforms in retirement system are long overdue; decisions over if and how to build the South Stream pipeline and how to stabilise the budget and the banking system after the collapse of Corporate Trade Bank, are pressing.(3, 4)

 Bulgaria needs miracles in every aspect of its life...                                                       In order to read the full report click here.

The Influence of Christian Ethos on Teaching and Learning in Church Secondary Schools

A Final Research Report Summery about the influence of the What If Learning approach in Christian schools, by Professor Trevor  Cooling,  Dr  Elizabeth Green, and Dr Lynn Revell

In order to read the full report click here.

Science and God

John Lennox, British mathematician, philosopher of science and Christian apologist who is Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford addressed large audiences in Slovakia and the Czech Republic

This recording of his talk is a good introduction to those who have not heard Lennox before.  Those who joined his excellent seminars at the EurECA conference in 2013 will appreciate hearing him again.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x-HkEKrs9Os&feature=youtu.be

 

EurECA Board Meeting 2014

Over the weekend of October 17th – 20th, members of the EurECA Board met together for their annual Board retreat, in Leipzig, Germany.  The guiding picture for the Board meeting stayed the same as before, with the picture of EurECA as a ship, which requires these four areas of work: Keeping Direction (1), Ship Maintenance (2), Providing Resources (3) and Team Care (4), the team being the Board and other volunteers from the membership and beyond.

One of the areas discussed under Keeping Directions was that of networking with other organizations. In the wake of invitations from other organizations, who have had conferences or will have conferences soon, with the focus on networking, the question came up: How can we avoid competing with each other? Our answer is that we should aim to complement each other, rather than compete against each other. In order to do this we need to get to know each other better. We are aiming, therefore, to contact the leaders to enhance the exchange of information perhaps organizing a joint conference where everyone can gather to talk about how we can work together in order to advance God’s kingdom across educational institutions in Europe.

The task of EurECA is a big one, but only a few are involved. Besides the eight Board members, there are only a handful of volunteers helping, for example, with translation work.

We looked at how much time and energy everyone had on the Board to give to EurECA, and found that some of us were additionally heavily committed in our personal lives and work situations. There is a need for greater input in a number of areas, for example, the website would benefit from input from someone who has more time and knowledge in the area of website editing. As a result of this discussion, one of the tasks set for the next two years is to find a new person who will take over responsibility for the website.

In our planning for the next conference, which will include our biannual General Assembly, we discussed how we could include our wider membership more effectively and make them feel a part of EurECA. As part of the 2015 General Assembly, we plan a small group brainstorming and prayer session. For more information click here.

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News from France

NEW TRAINING OPPORTUNITIES FOR FRENCH TEACHERS

L’Association des Etablissements Scolaires Protestants Evangeliques Francophones (AESPEF) has recently announced the setting up of l'Institut Supérieur Protestant "Mathurin Cordier",  a training centre for Christian teachers.

It will open its doors in early September 2014, with the aim of training future teachers in Protestant schools in French speaking countries. Read more...

 

News from ACSI-Ukraine

Dear friends,

We are sure that many of you have been following the dramatic and tragic events that have been happening in Kyiv and other cities of Ukraine over the past few days and weeks. What started a few months ago as a peaceful political protest against President Yanukovich’s reneging on his promise to sign an agreement of association with the European Union, escalated into a series of bloody battles brought on by the senseless beatings of young protesters by the police.  The protests then broadened to their underlying issues; the large-scale political and financial corruption that has plagued Ukrainian governmental institutions for a number of years. The David-and-Goliath-like situation that the world witnessed, while inspiring at times, has nonetheless ended tragically for many and has brought this nation to the brink of disaster and perhaps even civil war and open conflict with Russia. Read more...

 

News from Norway

Since October 2013, Norway has a new, Conservative government which has proposed a change to the Private School Act (privatskoleloven). At present, if one wants to start a Free School with state support, it has to be either religious or based on an alternative educational philosophy like Montessori or Rudolf Steiner. The government wants to open it up so that anybody can start a Free School as long as the quality is good and it doesn't have a negative effect on the schools run by the local authorities. It may even be exactly like them: but it will still be illegal to make a profit from them; so the government will have to put in place very strict controls to ensure that this does not happen. Read more...

 

ACT England Members’ Newsletter

ACT’s members’ newsletter from the autumn is now available online.  Page one focuses on teachers and the law, especially relating to sex education and the Marriage Act.  As well as the prayer diary, pages two and three have an excellent article from Arthur Jones which looks at how our world-view shapes our teaching.  Page four considers the culture of assessment and Godly pedagogy.  On page five we hear from Alastair Noble, Director of the Centre for Intelligent Design UK, and former HM Inspector of Schools in Scotland.  A postcard cartoon on page six speaks volumes about how the status of teachers has changed over the years, and we compare commitment in teaching with other professions.  John Shortt’s heart-warming address to ATL delegates in Liverpool cathedral starts on page six and ends on page eight where Clive Ireson gives his end-of-year report.  Read the latest ACT newsletter online.

 

DEATH OF HARRO VAN BRUMMELEN

On Wednesday 15 January 2014, our friend and pioneer of Christian pedagogy, Prof. Harro von Brummelen of Canada, died after an eighteen month battle against cancer. Those of us who were already in EurECA in 1998, those who have read his well-known book Walking with God in the Classroom and those who have heard him speak at conferences, will testify to the great contribution he  has made to our understanding of Christian pedagogy.

Walking with God in the Classroom has been translated into ten languages and has become a classic for Christian teachers across the world.  As Dean of the School of Education at Trinity Western University, he spoke widely on Christian approaches to education.  Harro’s presentations were marked by an equally convincing structure in theory and its link to classroom practice. Our sympathies are with his wife Wilma and their family for the loss of this unforgettable man.                                                                                                                              

Read more at: http://www.myalternatives.ca/abbotsford/obituaries/2014-van-brummelen-harro-walter

 

Snapshot: Training Christian teachers in the former USSR  

Our two guest speakers, the interpreter and I were about to meet the group of 42 Christian teachers from Russia, Armenia, Belarus and Ukraine, who would be participating in session three of our four-part training program on Christian approaches to education held at Vineyard Private School just outside of the capital city of Kyiv. Read more...

News from Slovakia

2013 was a demanding year for Slovak education generally. On the one hand, new projects, especially those supported by the EU, focused on ICT technology, mobilities etc. On the other hand, there was the frustration of many teachers and school employees with the superficiality of the latest school reforms.  There were protests by groups of teachers in the streets; complaints from an increasing number of individual teachers in blogs and on Facebook, fighting for improved  status and higher salaries. Then there was news of various pressures associated with new materials on sexual education and gender ideology, coming in with proposals which go against the traditional culture and religion of Slovakia. To top it all, at the end of the year, a PISA report showed a lowering of the achievement of Slovak students. Read more...

 

Polen: Remembering the Holocaust

Marek Kaniewski from Katowice (Poland) gives us an update on his involvement with the on-going education project, which was introduced to EurECA at the 2011 conference. 

Some of you will recall that the Remembering the Holocaust project began following a personal meeting which I had in 2007 with Henryk Mandelbaum, a former prisoner in the German Nazi Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp.  He was a former Sonderkommando worker, who survived and, after WW II, happened to meet the man who had handed him over to the Gestapo during the War. Remarkably, however, Henryk Mandelbaum did not take revenge but forgave him. Read more...

 

News from Portugal

We are truly grateful to God for another school year in which we have been able to take evangelical teaching to Portuguese schools.

Evangelical Religion and  Morals Education is taught as a subject, among all the other subjects that make up the Portuguese curricula, in 267 schools throughout the country, including the Azores and Madeira, the Portuguese Islands.   We have 164 teachers. The great majority of thm are doing the job on a voluntary basis, receiving no payment for their work. Read more...

 

Slovakia: Narnia News

Narnia School, one of three evangelical primary schools in Slovakia, has started the new school year with great excitement. God has answered many prayers and in an amazing way. A year ago the situation was very different, with even the existence of the school threatened.   The Lord has solved two key challenges:  where to teach and where to stay. The building, which the school had rented for the last 6 years, was suddenly put on the property market as the city council had decided to sell it. The price was high – 2 million Euros!  It seemed that, unless we could come up with the money, we would not be able to continue in the same building, which is centrally placed and which has potential for development. We had in mind, not only a primary school, but also a music school, school clubs and, hopefully in the future, a Christian secondary school. Read more...

What do Bulgarians feel like?

“Bulgarians Feel Like Abandoned Kids”, according to a  Social Anthropologist

Excerpts from Euronews interview with prominent Bulgarian social anthropologistHaralan Aleksandrov on the ongoing social and political crisis in Bulgaria:
“The reasons that triggered the mass demonstrations [in February] have been there for years. Some people in Bulgaria are desperately poor, can hardly survive and face hardships, difficulties and poverty. However these issues have been postponed for years.

Resentment and anger were somehow contained within the functioning political system. For some reason this year this arrangement broke up, it just collapsed. Apparently people can not live any more with this status quo. 

It would not be an exaggeration to say that the belief that something better is going to happen has died. Bulgarians live not just in a poor society, but in an impoverished society. 

A growing number of people do not have any hope, they don’t believe that things will change for better and no longer trust the elite – not only the politicians, but anyone who has some position. Bulgarians feel like children who have been abandoned and left to survive on their own.” 

This is the world’s view of our situation , but God says:   ‘’No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.’’   (NIV, Joshua 1:5) Read more...

 

Bulgaria: The integration of children with special needs in

Compared to other EU countries, Bulgaria's policies regarding the integration of special needs children into mainstream schools are extremely under developed. Many children are in special institutions, where a small percentage of them receive little or no education. Read more...

New Generation School Bulgaria

2013 was a great year for us!  We ended a successful school year and started a new one.  God continues to send us children and we are blessed with His faithfulness.

Our first official school year finished successfully.  Our students took part in National Math, Bulgarian, and English exams and scored high.  They also took part in a National Art Contest and won 1st place.  The theme of the art contest was “God is Love.”  They worked together to make a stained glass mural of a cross and a dove.  The year ended successfully and we graduated 7 students from kindergarten, ready for 1st grade. Read more...

 

New Education Commission in England

The good work started by the Forum for Change education cluster will now be continued by the newly-established Evangelical Alliance Education Commission (EAEC).

Forum for Change drew together Christians working in media, arts, business, politics and education, and offered a platform where Christians across these professions took time to think and dialogue, aiming to generate a vision for change. It was recognised that change requires a long-term strategy which would ultimately affect the nation's children and shape their future. Read more...

 

EurECA Boardmeeting 2013

Over the weekend of October 26th – 28th, the members of the EurECA Board met together, for their annual board retreat, at Pilgrim Hall in Sussex – the place of the EurECA conference 2014. The chairman of the board, Matt Kaegi, started the meeting; comparing EurECA with a “ship”, which requires these four areas of  work: Keeping direction (1), Ship maintenance (2), Providing resources (3) and Team care (4), the team being the board and other volunteers.

In order to keep direction, the board took time to review the constitution and to collate a large mind-map of what has been done over the past year.

Ship maintenance meant looking at membership and finances. Sadly, a number of people had not been paying their membership fees for years, thus had to be taken off the list. Despite a lack of membership payments, but thanks to a number of gifts, EurECA’s finances are stable, which will allow us to support participants to next year’s conference again.

Providing resources was another big aspect discussed. “How can we enhance the website and the newsletter, so that they will contain quality resources, news and information for educators all over Europe?”  It was decided to reduce the newsletter to articles of a more private nature, and to post news of general interest continuously on the website. For this, members and friends are invited to send in short or longer articles.

For team care, the board spent some time bringing any guilt for things left undone to the Lord, asking for forgiveness, and recommitting to be more faithful. Sunday morning, as every year, brought a visit to a worship service nearby – this time in Eastbourne, a wonderful seaside resort which will be worth an excursion during the conference!

Of course, time was spent also preparing the next conference; for more information click here. Happily, despite the predicted hurricane, the meeting was not seriously disturbed, and board members were mostly able to return home on time.

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Prof John Lennox recently made a quite remarkable speech in London. To read it follow the link: Belief in 21st Century Britain.

 

Please join us for the EurECA Conference 2017

Experience and Expertise in Christian Pedagogy