Social and Pastoral BulletinNo. 87Dec. 15, 1998


Kajiyama Yoshio (Taisei Gakuen Principal)

Jesuit schools are spread all over the world. In July, 1997 the head of the Counseling Department of Taisei School and a former graduate, Mr. Tanaka Taiju, and I paid a visit to one of the Jesuit schools in Indonesia, St. Joseph's College. Fr. Hayashi Hisashi, S.J., the director of Shimonoseki's Labor Education Center accompanied us. From September, 1997 we established sister relationships with St. Joseph's 3-year high school.

St. Joseph's School was established in 1982. Bishop Carlos Phillippe Belo, the Apostolic Delegate of Dili diocese (East Timor) founded the school, under the name of St. Joseph Catholic High School. Mgr. Belo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1996 and his name is widely known. The Dili diocese has, as a priority, to train lay people and wanted to transfer the management of the school to a religious congregation experienced in education. As a result, and answering a request from Bishop Belo, the Indonesian Jesuit Province sent a Jesuit as principal of the school. In 1993 (September 3) the school was totally transferred to the Jesuits, changing its name to St. Joseph High School in 1994. Taisei has also a similar history: it belonged to Fukuoka diocese and later was transferred to the Jesuits who continue to manage the school up to the present.
Characteristics of St. Joseph School

The main purpose of this school is the training of minor seminarians, wishing to become Catholic priests, who are staying at the Minor Seminary of Our Lady of Fatima. This Seminary has been entrusted by the Dili diocese to the Jesuits, and we find also here close similarities with Taisei. Taisei was founded as a Minor Seminary, and till quite recently seminarians from the Fukuoka Minor Seminary just next door, were coming to our school.

A difference from Taisei is that St. Joseph has coeducation. The majority of the students are Catholic and as a result, education is imbued with Gospel values in order to train people to be leaders in society and in the Catholic Church. The stress is in the molding of personalities and knowledge, in serving liberally the church and the poor. The school motto: "Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam" stands conspicuously at the gate of the school. St. Joseph has 262 students (90 of them are minor seminarians), and there are 9 small classrooms. There are 29 teachers and 7 administration staff, 3 of them are Jesuits. Another three Jesuits take care of the Minor Seminary.

East Timor is poor and although the school monthly fee is about 300 yen (5,000 rupies), about 20 families can not afford it. As a result, the school is always in the red. Since there are continuous fights between the Indonesian army and independent factions, the political situation there is always tense. I was told that since the majority of the teachers are not from East Timor, warm relationships between teachers and students are not easy. There is no university in the island but there is hope that, in the future, well qualified students can obtain high educational teachers training, for 5 years, in the Catholic University of Jogyakarta, in the island of Java. The principal, Fr. Ageng, is willing to send there two or three graduates every year, but the university fee is 300,000 yen, per person, an amount of money impossible to be paid, under the present economic situation of East Timor. Since a continuous formation of the school staff is not possible, there is no clear basis for an optimistic future. The school facilities are very poor, and in particular the Physics Laboratory is practically lacking.

Materially speaking, the children of East Timor are poorer than the Japanese, but their eyes look vividly bright. They play soccer barefoot and, if one compares them with Japanese children all absorbed in TV games, it will be difficult to judge who are really more fortunate. In any event, Japanese children can learn many things from them.

The reason why Taisei established sistership relationships with this school is because it aims at "educating persons who are able to contribute to the formation of a more human society". Since this requires a broadening of international vision, there is hope to obtain that in our future links with East Timor. We are not yet thinking of sending our students there, but this new relationship will be of help to Taisei, and we want to establish better relations for the development of St. Joseph School.

Report of a Graduate
A graduate from Taisei who is now studying in the Foreign Languages Department of Sophia University, Mr. Tanaka Taiju, came with us to East Timor and wrote the following report.

"When we visited St. Joseph School I saw on a wall poster of the library this motto: "Vivere est militare" (to live is to fight). A second year high school boy wrote it. But, what are the realities forcing those 16-17 year old students to speak out such a vivid statement? I can never forget this incident that knocked me down during my short stay in East Timor. Reflecting together with you on the background of my doubts might be a good way to show some interest in "East Timor", the name of the eastern half of the island of Timor, a country not very familiar to any of us.

East Timor was invaded by the Indonesian military in 1975, the year I was born. Geographically, Timor is east of the island of Java where Jakarta, the Indonesian capital, is. Timor stands between the famous tourist resort of Bali and Irianjaya (West Papua New Guinea). The island is at the very east end of the Sunder Archipelago, very close to Australia. Its dimension is about 19,000 square km., more or less the size of Shikoku. It is said that 200,000 people, or almost 30% of the whole population of 700,000 lost their lives at the hands of the Indonesian troops, and that many are still in Indonesian military jails. On top of this, poverty together with malaria, tuberculosis and similar diseases produce much suffering to the oppressed population.
From Sister Relationship to Solidarity

The new relationship naturally includes the students and the families of St. Joseph School. The sad reality is, as Jesuit Fr. Ageng the principal of the school mentioned, that " our students can not afford three meals a day and some of them faint during class. We try to supply their nutrition by providing milk at the school every Saturday." By chance, we were there on a week end and could observe many students lining with red cups full of milk in their hands.

There were no instruments in the Physics laboratory and the library had just a few books stranded on the shelves. The children have lost their parents because of the war and disease or maybe they just disappeared, in fact kidnaped or assassinated. All they can do, now, is to survive. Such a situation influences the finances of the school. As a private school it has even to care about the malnutrition of its students, and it needs donations from churches to build its finances. There is practically no official aid available.

On the other hand, East Timor was for a long time, purposely, left aside by big countries like Japan and the United States, and the public media paid little attention to this tiny island. Things have changed after the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to a person from the island. Surely, people from around the world focused their attention on the island, but in spite of it, since information and foreigners trying to go in are very restricted, locals find it very difficult to know what is happening around the world. They feel themselves in complete isolation from other people in the world.
Taisei established a sister relationship with the most brilliant high school of the former capital of East Timor, Dili, which has produced many leaders. We can not find anywhere in the world any other school with such a relationship with East Timor. Through such a special link, we are in a position to assist economically and spiritually, as friends who enjoy the same Catholic values, the youth who will build up the future of East Timor. I think we should be very proud of it. As for the students of St. Joseph School, this link is the only small window open to the outside they have, to look straight towards the world. Principal Ageng told us: "I do not know which course East Timor will take. Independence? Remain an Indonesian region? In any event, the best we can do is to educate excellent personalities". The coincidence of the views of Principal Kajiyama, in agreement with St. Joseph's principal, support this international relationship. The little money we can spare is a big assistance to them. Can it not be said that our biggest contribution to them will be that they feel they are not left alone?

The oppression and violations of human rights in East Timor is a negation of Kant's principle: "Persons are objects, not means". The motto of the students: "to live is to fight" is a natural response to the oppressions, it's a cry coming out from the depth of their hearts that we have forgotten. I want the students of Taisei, even if it is after graduation, to visit the place and contact our counterpart students there, so that they can also sympathize with my reflections.

[This article appeared in the Bulletin of Taisei School, March 1998]